Recently, there has been an overwhelming out-pour of women publicly exposing their sexual abusers. This abuse has been in the form of harassment, abuse of power and rape.
These allegations themselves are not astonishing news to the American people.
Over the years, women and even men have been taking brave and risky steps to be a voice of power for themselves while exposing their assailants. But it has been on rare occasions that these alleged or proven abusers have been prominent and in most cases highly esteemed individuals.
Due to these victims speaking out, we have seen the immediate results of their accusers’ demise before any legal action has been initiated.
Because victims of abuse are realizing how much power they have over their abusers, influencers are utilizing their platforms to advocate for justice and those in corporate authority are realizing what the bottom line means for them.
When you have famous people in the entertainment industry willing to risk ‘tarnishing’ their brand or financial livelihood, it empowers their followers. Those who admire and respect them. As a result, women have been speaking out loud through social media releasing their own personal stories.
But what allows adult women or men to remain silent about such traumatizing experiences for so long?
After posing that question, it didn’t take me long to ponder because I, along with many others, have experienced the answer.
“Millions of children have been abused either verbally, physically or sexually. Some of these cases have been reported and others have not” (Hastings, 2017 p. 11).
In my mental health book of memoirs, I transparently describe being sexually abused as a child and the affects it had on my life that transitioned into my adulthood.
When I hear people criticize adults for waiting so long to break their silence about their attacks, I realize they have no clue what it is like to be abused in any form. And that they do not realize in many cases there is a common enabling denominator among those abused.
Silent abused children often become silent abused adults.
The recently reported allegations have included abuse starting during teenage years. Other isolated incidents have been reported as first occurring during childhood.
As someone who was sexually abused as a child, I know there are many factors that keep children silent about those abusing them. One main factor that I frequently discuss with others is the unspoken code of protection:
“There is an unspoken code of protection in many families; silence. I have learned that the logic behind it is protection; protection from ridicule, protection from a scandal. This code is in place to protect the family, but does not help the victims; those that continue to suffer due to the sacrifice they make on behalf of their loved ones. Because children are easily influenced by adults, they too quickly learn this unspoken code. As a result, child abuse situations continue and children never receive the help and healing that is required.”
-Excerpt from Keeping My Faith While Saving My Mind.
When I was an adolescent entering the workforce, I experienced the unpleasant memories from my childhood that I tried to repress. I quickly learned that instead of this treatment being an exception to the rule, it was the norm.
When I would share in general conversations with older women, their response was one of survival. Not by exposer, rather how to keep your job. These same women had experienced a life time of men taking advantage of them and felt powerless.
I want to take the time to thank every woman, known and unknown, who has decided to replace their victim status to victor by speaking out and activating your power. You have been helping other women and more so, you are helping small voices break the silence code!