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.
THE COST OF PRETENCE
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