You don't have to remain a victim

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Healing from abuse is a long journey. It happens on many levels over years as you move from victim to survivor. Part of your healing may involve confronting the person who abused you. And that can be scary as hell.

Looking back on my journey I am surprised that not one therapist recommended that I confront the pedophile in my family who had abused me. They all focused on how I was dealing with my own healing but I was never encouraged to confront him. I even contacted a therapist who was familiar with my family and told him I wanted to bring the abuse out into the open in my family. He strongly advised me against it. He told me my family would implode. He told me that if I was looking for healing I wouldn't find it through confrontation. And he told me that my family would probably deny it happened, call me a liar and I would be victimized all over again. So I stayed quiet.

About five years later the story came out in my family. But not through me. The same man had abused my cousin's daughter. Her therapist had reported it to the police. And the police had advised my cousin to contact every woman in the family to see if there were others. There were. 

I often wondered if I had said something if I could have prevented what happened to that young girl. And I have learned that confrontation, trial, conviction, and even criminal charges are still not enough proof for people who want to protect the system - whether it is a family or a church.

When a woman comes forward to confront an abuser, she probably isn't doing it for her own healing. She is doing it to protect other women. She is doing it to expose a threat to others.  But that isn't the narrative that we hear about victims who come forward. They are often painted as hurting, vindictive, petty, damaged bitches. Women who want to bring a man down. 

I can't imagine anyone putting themselves through that type of trauma to bring someone else down. I can imagine that they share their story out of solidarity for the other women who are being dismissed as 'not credible.'  It seems to take several women's stories before we are willing to believe that maybe there is some truth in the accusations.  

Ultimately, that therapist was right - you don't find healing in confronting an abuser. He was also wrong - that doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. You do it to stop the cycle. You do it to protect other people from being victimized. You do it even though you might be ostracized. You do it because although you were once a victim, you aren't always a victim.