Family Denial and rejection

The subject of abuse disclosure within families and denial is well documented. In my own family I was the outcast, the one to betray her parents by ‘telling’ someone other than them first. It is still not spoken about years after the disclosure and fine actors would be proud of the Oscar winning performances when we do all meet. I was told to fix the problem I had created by telling, I was also put into care for a time. This website is my way of refusing to be silent. I would write all my feelings down on paper since I was a teenager. Many are the poems you see today, I always wanted them to be used for good. Over a long period of time I learnt to love my family for who they are and not for who and how I want them to be. That does not mean I have forgiven and forgotten, I still don’t know that I can ever do that. I guess the poems on this page are a wonderful example of how NOT to react to a disclosure of abuse.

‘The Incest victim is usually the healthiest in the family: the one closest to the truth and the first to seek help’ Susan Forward

“When abuse takes place within a family, the child learns that her family is a dangerous place where people hurt each other. She learns that her parents will not protect her, and in fact, may be the source of her pain. Usually, she is isolated from other family members, and her peers as well. Often she is blamed for her family’s troubles.” Allies in Healing by Laura Davis


“The survivor is unlikely to get support from her family in dealing with abuse that took place within the family. She may be the family scapegoat, rejected or blamed for the problems in the family. This may leave her feeling crazy, depressed, or invalidated when she has contact with her family.” Allies in Healing by Laura Davis


Families characterized by shame…
It is worth noting that families whose relationships are characterized by shame often deny or minimize the needs of the individuals in the family in order to protect the image the family projects both to its members and to the outside world.
Anyone who touches on an issue that could bring shame on the family is not tolerated. So, if a family member is aware that there are problems in the home and wants to seek help, they are not allowed. Or if an individual is feeling hurt by another family member, they are not allowed to express this. Rules are then formed around not having feelings or needs. For example of you make a demand on another person that causes stress, you may be told you’ve upset your mother – this is your fault! Its almost as tho the shame is passed around the family so that the person who is least able to protect themselves carries the family shame.

From ‘New Shoes’ By Rebecca Mitchell


“Many abused children cling to the hope that growing up will bring escape and freedom.

But the personality formed in the environment of coercive control is not well adapted to adult life. The survivor is left with fundamental problems in basic trust, autonomy, and initiative. She/he approaches the task of early adulthood――establishing independence and intimacy――burdened by major impairments in s…elf-care, in cognition and in memory, in identity, and in the capacity to form stable relationships.

She/he is still a prisoner of her/his childhood; attempting to create a new life, she/he re-encounters the trauma.”
― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The aftermath of violence–from domestic abuse to political terror


Did you just not see

See what he was doing to me

Or did you choose to shut your eyes

To protect yourself from pain

Was it easier to believe the lies

Or was I such a bad girl

Did you not love me so

That you knew but chose not to know

Why didn’t you rescue me

Wasn’t I worth it to you

Surely you knew?


Today I don’t feel like a grown up

Today it hurts so much inside

Today the space between us feels so wide

Today I need you

Today I want to be small again

Today I want to be a child in her mothers care

Today the only place I want to be is there.



Screaming a silent scream

Come and rescue me mummy

Rape, he raped me mummy

Enter my world, need you so much

Angry mummy, why are you so angry with me

My mind is so confused

I don’t understand any of this

Need you to be the grown up

Give me back some dignity.



I didn’t choose to be abused

to be held down

to be used

to be forced

to be raped

But you chose to blame to

to reject me

to be angry

to not accept the truth

to abandon me

Am I proud of my choices?

I didn’t have any choices

Are you proud of yours?



Why weren’t you there for me the day he came?

Why weren’t you there for me when I wept in shame

How could you be so remote and blind to it year after year

Why didn’t you stop him and rescue me

Why didn’t through all my nightmares and tears you see

I feel so angry with you, you left me to be abused

You were only a few minutes away

You failed me back then and you continue to fail me this day.



When I was just a little girl

I could not see the empty well

But now I am grown

Almost ready for children of my own

I understand no water for me

Now I know, now I see

How foolish to seek from a source bone dry

Foolish to will for or to cry

Far better to fill my own full/overflowing

& Give abundantly to my children

whilst they are growing.


House of sickness, secrets and lies

You and your people I despise

If the walls could talk what a tale to tell

All you are now is a piece of hell

House of sorrow, sadness and misery

How cruel you are in my memory

You have helped to keep me ill

You do not care how I feel

House of anger, rage and bitterness

Why was I born into this

The walls are tarnished with discontent

Love and understanding long ago spent

House of my childhood

You seem to have never understood

What is really needed to make a home

I don’t want or need you anymore

Leave me alone.



Take me back into your arms and let me be a child again

Soothe me in your magical love and dissolve the pain

Look at me and smile, tell me it will be okay

Let me be a child again, if only for one day

Let me live a day without any cares at all

Let me live a day where you will mend me if I fall.


Mother embrace your child in pain

Won’t you soothe her shame

Hush your angry heart

Abuse has torn her apart

I know you are hurting but she needs you

To hold her whilst she is sad and blue

Seeing your pain increases her own

She feels so alone

She is still your little girl if you will let her be

Won’t you help her to be free?


Mummy can you hold my hand?

Can you try to understand

Can you tell me I am a good girl

For then my heart would whirl

Can you brush my long brown hair

Then I will feel like you care

Can you be close when I’m tucked up in bed

Happy safe thoughts can fill my head

Can you hold me tight and never let me go

Why do we have to grow?


Please don’t hurt me anymore

Your rejection is a slamming door

I am so tired of feeling the way I do

I’m sick and tired of being hurt by you

If you don’t want to try to understand me

Just leave me be.




Don’t turn away from me

I need you do you not see?

I am crying and I feel so bare

I hate myself but you don’t care

My body is aching, marked and bruised

Like the inside of my only that I did not choose

I need you but you are not around

I need your love but there is none to be found

Don’t lie to me, only speak the truth

I am more than a statistic of today’s abused youth

If there is no truth in what you say

Don’t mislead me with false hope, just stay away

Please I beg of you not to hurt me anymore

I am knocking on deaths door

But I do not want to join the number

who have gone too soon before.



How wonderful to be as oblivious as you

Oblivious to everything he did to me, all I went through

What a luxury for you to decide I am okay now

To never have known the true extent of it all anyhow

How lovely for you to be able to say ‘it is history’

Yet it lives on year after year inside the core of me

Oh to be blissfully unaware as you are of the nightmare

Turn your head to face it and it is still right there

But you have decided to leave it all behind

I cannot leave my little girl in your oblivious mind.


What have I done to be in disgrace?

What have I done to leave this place?

He abused me time after time

Yet I am being punished for his crime

I am guilty of making them feel uncomfortable

I am guilty of breaking the no talk rule

Worst of all guilty of being too young to take control

Will there ever give me parole?



I needed you when he laid his hands on my skin

I needed you when I agonised about a life within

I needed you when the police and social workers came

I needed you when I cast my eyes to the floor in shame

I needed you for meetings and decisions, things I didn’t understand

I needed you in the dark of night to hold my hand

I needed you, oh mamma how I needed you.



I long to restore all the pieces in place

Yet I know there are some I can never replace

For the child I was has grown and gone

Apart from the memories living on

& Of all that it has made me feel inside

Of how they turned away from my cries

I can never fully erase the memory of him

For you cannot purchase new skin

He invaded what you have to keep

Where you think and feel and sleep

The effort of having to smile at you

When my heart is so blue

Of having to be strong

So you can all pretend nothing was ever wrong

It has made my soul sicker than I’d ever dare tell…

Because you have never wanted tor each me in abusive hell.


So many things you don’t understand, you will never know what it did to me

You were never with me in the dark night of my soul and I never wanted you to be

When I wept alone in the dark and silence of the night

When I sat for hours watching the dark become daylight

When I lay in bed and wondered how I was going to face another day

When my heart felt like everything it lived for was snatched away

When I cried and cried and felt I’d never stop it all

When I walked on the edge of life and thought I was going to fall

When I couldn’t look in your face because of the shame

When family passed by in the street like they didn’t know my name

When tablets in my hand and razors by the bed comforted me enough

To hang on a little longer knowing I had them if it was all too tough

So many things you don’t understand, you will NEVER know what it did to me.


Come and collect your little girl from this place

She lingers in the shadows with invisible tears on her face

Take her hand, she only wants you

You brought her into this world with a blood red heart and

allowed others to turn it blue

You gave birth to an innocent child, she was perfect

You failure as parents became her defect

You brought her into this world and then left her alone

You banished her from your heart and home

You fed her to the wolves, you hung her out to dry

You were told she was abused, you called it a lie

& You looked at her with eyes ice cold

& Within that look so much was silently told

You had something so precious, so much potential

Then you found her on the edge and watched her fall

I was not born with this despair in my heart

I was born complete, now I feel blown apart

I was born precious, untouched, untarnished

Why, why did you create me for this?


Did you see her face when she knew what you had done?

Did you feel any emotion, mine were numb

What could you say, what did you say?

Did she cry after she sent me away?

She kept you close in her care

I went to hell and back, have you been there?

I went and banged on suicides door

& I have done several times more

You lied and played the injured one

You remained her precious son

I was a child and you treated me like a rag doll

Will I ever be able to feel whole?

But did you…did you see her face when she knew?

My heart was breaking in two

I could not look anyone in the eye

Yet it was your damage, your wrong, your lie.


Go child, go whilst you can

If not you will wish you had walked away

A few months more and you will wish you had ran

What is the sum of this debt you feel you must pay

For you still pay the cost

In the form of innocence forever lost

Go child, go whilst you can

Go from the place where you were raped

Go from the place of condemnation

Go from where you dare not be yourself

Go from the source of pain and fear

Go to a new place where you can flourish

Go child, go whilst you can…

If not you will wish you had ran.


My name is tarnished, is guilty, is shame

Because he placed his hands on me, I will never be the same

His hands that grabbed and touched and held me tight

Did things no one can ever make right

& Mummy said I was a bad girl…bad

Told me she could not hug me, I knew I had made her sad

Couldn’t hug me because I am no good

Though I tried to stop it, I never could.


One final sentence, one final thing…

“She killed herself last night”

One final act to put everything right

One act to say all I cannot say, my reply

One final answer to all the pain you make me feel

All the tears you cause me to cry

One less person to be a pawn in your game

One less, I don’t have to remain

One last time to think of me

One last time and then all are free

One last attempt for you to hear how much I wanted you

One less hoop to jump through

One final thing, one final sentence

“She killed herself last night”

One final thing to make everything right.



“I realized that I live in a fairy tale where the abuser is gone from my life, but no one else discusses it…It is not even an issue because it is over in their eyes. I strive to live up to everyone’s expectations and am highly controlled by my family, trying to be all they want me to be – a good girl that turned out okay despite what happened to me” …Wendi Nolan Brincken

“My extended family has a LONG history of sexual abuse, and after my daughter was born two years ago, I realized that the safest thing I could do for her was to divorce my family, so to speak. I have completely cut off my parents, all siblings except for one, and I have absolutely no contact with my extended family. To some people this may sound extreme, but my belief is that I may not be able to protect her from the evils of the world, but I will be damned if I don’t protect my daughter from my own family” …Jess Reece

“Invalidation is in some ways more cruel than the abuse, in the sense that it completely shatters the victim’s need to believe they are loved and cared for. Not only are they dealing with the abuse itself creating a sense of worthlessness and shame, but they have that feeling cemented when parents, family members, friends, and partners invalidate their pain. The message is that “it does not matter that you are/were in pain; it does not matter that you need my love, you will not get it; it does not matter that you need help, you will not receive it”. What a cruel and false message to give any person. People that invalidate your pain are being incredibly selfish–it helps to protect THEM from feeling that they have failed you, that something is wrong with them for not noticing, and for being incapable of changing the situation”…Jess Reece

“They didn’t want ME, they wanted the me that they created and i pretended to be for them” …Wendi Nolan Brincken

Copyright © Kate Swift 2013. All Rights Reserved.