There is one angle on abuse that is always grossly overlooked. I’ve touched on this topic before in my previous writings, but it demands its own spotlight. It is Domestic Violence Awareness month after all.
Of all the trauma I endured and survived, there was a unique trauma in being told by those who I trusted most that I lied. Having my cries of help ignored, and when I was heard, I was not believed.
Oh the hell, the loneliness of not being heard. There’s salt to a wound, and kicking a dog when it’s down. And then there is that. Having your mother look you right in the face and calling you “slut” when you find the courage, the strength to say, “Hey, Mom. The boyfriend who you love so much… yeah, he rapes me every night.”
Or being called a liar and pulled out of therapy by your mother because you told your therapist that you were beaten at home.
I have no words to describe the loneliness, the abuse, the nightmare it is of having no one believe you all because they don’t want to deal with it. “Deal with it?” you want to scream. “While you pretend the world is fine, while you pretend your life is merry, I’m pinned down and raped, beaten, and tortured. But none of that matters, so long as you can pretend how happy you think I am.”
They call you “Liar” all so they can hide behind their claim. All because they’re too lazy to deal with the clean up, or too scared to admit the problem. Meanwhile, the voiceless abused are fed to the wolves all so “they” don’t have to deal with it.
There is the trauma of traumatic events. And then there is the trauma of invalidation. Of betrayal. When invalidation happens, it is almost always done by a parent. It is those we trust the most who are first to invalidate out nightmares. Take it from one who knows, the only thing worse than being raped/tortured/abused, is being raped/tortured/abused and being called a liar.
Invalidation isn’t just abuse. It is the worst kind of abuse.
The beatings were the easiest for me to handle. With the rapes, “coping” was only an imaginative world away. Yes, I dissociated. How else could I escape? I can’t handle animals being hurt. Such innocent, wonderful creatures, no animals should ever feel the inhumanity of Man. That was hell, watching the innocent senselessly suffer. All I could do was save them, and lay myself down in place of them. I would fight for them. After the comfort they gave me—the only comfort I had—it was the least I could for for them.
9/11 was its own hell for me. I won’t get into it here.
But being called a liar… now that. That was a trauma that hurt the deepest of all. I imagine a lot of things. I trained my mind to forget, but I remember the taste of cold saliva dripping into my mouth while the pedophile kissed me. My lips bled when he kissed me because he crushed his teeth into my mouth. I remember the screams in my head every time I was raped. I remember things, feelings… I remember the pain. I’m not insane. I’m not insane. These words scream often inside my head as if my own ID is trying to convince me that I didn’t imagine what others—outsiders—insist I imagined.
It happened. Why doesn’t anyone believe me?
The worse thing you could do if someone comes to you and says, “I’m being raped/tortured/abused,” is call them a liar. They may be making it up “for attention.” But only a trained therapist is in a position to make that decision. That isn’t your call to make. And chances are, they’re not.
Save someone today. Listen.
Finalist for the 2015 Wishing Shelf Awards. Goodreads Reviews "Broken is graphic, shocking, raw, disturbing, intense, appalling, shameful, and so very, very sad." "This story has the complexity of The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy, but written with the flow of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson." "Your ...More info →