Shame is the big issue with abuse.
It is the shame that keeps it a secret and loads you down with the weight – making you isolated. Ironically, the way out of shame is to talk about it with trustworthy people, the very thing many people find so difficult.
Shame of Abuse in General
Everyone admits that abuse goes on, but no one wants to admit it happens here in this situation or community and especially not in this family. This is simply too terrifying for people to think about. This is why abusers are often demonised in the media and compared to monsters. People feel safer thinking about abusers this way and makes them think they will be able to spot them – giving them power in the situation. Thinking that an abuser could be a normal person – someone they know and even like – makes people feel frightened and powerless.
There is also another reason abuse can cause an extreme reaction in other people when you talk about it. Possibly this is connecting with their own abuse and pain that they are in denial about. So many people have been sexually abused at some level – some conscious of it and others are not. However, hearing about abuse from others can bring up undealt with issues that they may be completely unaware of.
Fear of Exposure
Sexual abuse is so shameful because there is so much to dread in its discovery.
In some ways sexual abuse victims are characterised by the shame it brings upon them. We feel that the abuse will somehow distort others perception of us and our sexuality.
Most crucially sexual abuse is particularly shameful because it is outwardly about sexuality. We fear we will be judged and seen as tarnished and people will consider us less attractive and valuable because we have been abused.
Shame Because it’s Sexual
If you think about other criminal offences that happen to people e.g. being beaten up or mugged that’s still an abuse; but it doesn’t carry the same amount of consequences as rape or sexual assault because it is not related to our bodies or sexuality.
Very few people feel really safe talking about their sexuality or their bodies let alone that a painful abuse has occurred. The “taboo” on sexual abuse is lifting though in our world and communities – but it is still a topic that evokes a lot of strong feelings.
However, through communicating with people you trust and breaking the isolation and silence; the shame of abuse will lessen.
You will be freer to be more open to share your life with others and the pain of the past – if you choose to do so.