Until about two months ago, sexual abuse was something that had happened to other people. I knew what it was, even had s couple of friends who had been abused as children, but I had never been impacted by it personally.
That has all changed.
Down through the years…
When you think about it, my situation, and those other NPEs have experienced goes to show how abuse can have such a huge impact on future generations. Now I now you may be asking how we could be hurting due to events we never experienced, but we are.
Many of us feel a range of emotions. Sometimes, we feel okay and we accept the situation. Other times, we feel a mix of shame, guilt, sadness and we mourn. We mourn the fantasy family and happy reunion we will probably never get to have. We mourn the loss of who we thought we were and we mourn the loss of who were really are at a fundamental level. It’s hard not to fele ‘tainted”.
Why the guilt?
That’s a really easy one. Sexual abuse of children has likely been going on since people first walked on two legs, but it was often hidden and kept in the dark. In recent years, people have begun to talk about it, and we have learned just how devastating it can be to a boy or girl, even on to their adult years.
How can we not feel guilty? While it’s certainly true we never asked to be conceived or born, we also know the pain our existence may well have put our mothers through. Many of the NPE people I have talked to expressed a sense of guilt. I can’t imagine how painful it may have been for my biological mother. She had been abused, gotten pregnant, and from what I can tell ( but I could be wrong) she was shuffled off to a maternity home, where she had her child in secret. How can I not feel some guilt over that? Maternity homes back then were not known for being the kindest of institutions, and I imagine she may well have been made to feel guilty, like some sort of fallen woman, even though she was completely innocent. It was her abuser who was at fault.
In an odd way, some of us even begin to develop protective feelings towards our biological mothers. We want to take their pain and shame away, even though we have never met them and they are strangers to us. It’s strange, but the parent/child roles can sort of get turned on their heads.
Shining a light in the shadow
One of the feelings that I have about all of this that I really don’t understand myself, is the sense of shame. I have done nothing wrong, but let’s be frank. I am the product of incestuous child abuse. It makes my skin crawl to type that, but it is what it is. I can accept that. I can’t change it, even though I wish I could.
It’s the shame and embarrassment that really sticks in my craw. We’ve all heard the “inbreeding” jokes at one time or another. They really are not funny. There is so much stigma attached to discussing familial sexual abuse, and I think that’s wrong. I also think it’s wrong that we don’t talk more openly about some of the potential fallout, beyond how it impacts the abused. While that is one of the most important pieces of the discussion, it is not the only one.
I’m a hypocrite ( I admit it)
I know how hypocritical it is of me to talk about how the stigma around discussing sexual abuse in families while I hide behind an anonymous user name and blog. How can I do that?
The answer is both simple and complex. I’m not exactly a “socializer” and a lot of people don’t know who I am. If it was just me, I might be more willing to use my actual name, but I don’t want to put my kids in that position. That would be so unfair to them! So instead, I hide behind my username and try to get the word out as best I can. Perhaps one day I will have the courage to be more open.
Ending the stigma may help break the cycle
While I wasn’t sexually abused myself, I’d like to think I can help to break the cycle, at least for someone out there. As a society, this is a topic that we really need to address openly, honestly and without fear or shame. It’s the shame and fear that allow it to keep on, often generation after generation. Isn’t it high time we said “STOP!” and started talking about it more openly?
As many abusers were abused themselves as a child, making sure that child ( and adult) victims have timely access to mental health care, counseling and support is also so important. While there can be no guarantees, making sure these measures are in place may just help break the cycle from continuing on, and on and on and on ad nasuem.
In closing I would like to issuer the following challenge ( don’t worry, it’s an easy one). I ask everyone who reads this to talk to just one or two people about sexual abuse in families, NPE and how more and more people are finding out that, like me, they are the end result of this crime. To borrow a phrase from Amnesty International, it’s “better to light a candle than rage at the darkness”. We can all make a difference.