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Jun 142013
 

What happens to the victims of abuse, sexual or otherwise, when we turn our backs on it, or worse, cover up the abuse, invalidate the victim’s pain because we “don’t want to cause a scene?”

In my own family, our family abuser when I was young was my mother’s brother, that I will call “uncle Monster.” Monster was age 7 when my mother was born a premature tiny baby delivered at home who probably weighed less than three pounds in 1922. They didn’t fully bathe her for a month because they were afraid to chill her, and she slept in a shoe box placed in a dresser drawer.

Monster was jealous of this tiny newborn taking all the attention away from him, and not too long after she was born, Monster smothered her, but fortunately their mother caught him before she died. My grandmother had grown up in a family of enablers and so she protected Monster, and didn’t tell his father. She tried her best to keep my mother close to her and “safe” without telling on Monster. Her reason was “Well, his daddy would have spanked him and he might have run away from home.”

The smothering continued until my mother was seven, and he would choke her unconscious repeatedly, until one day when Mom was  7 and Monster 14, my grandfather caught him and indeed, did “wale the tar out of Monster” and at that point the smotherings stopped.

I can’t even imagine what my mother suffered as a small child from the offenses and abuse of her brother because their mother didn’t “tell” and stop the abuse.

Covering up for offenders goes on every day. Not just the Catholic church covering up for pedophile priests, but wives calling their husband’s boss and telling him “Joe is sick and won’t be in today, ” when in  reality Joe got drunk last night and beat her up and he is so hung over he can’t get out of bed.

The following article is a first person account of the suffering of the victim, not just from his abuser but from the family and community when he came forward and “told” about what his cousin had done to him. What pain is it when those near and dear to us refuse to validate our suffering?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chaim-levin/justice_b_3437638.html

Chaim Levin tells in detail the suffering he endured, not only at the hands of his abuser, but from the people who should have protected and validated him.

I “covered up” my son’s crimes by not telling people that he was in prison, by denying that he was what he is, a thief and a killer. I did it out of a kind of shame and told myself, like my grandmother told herself, “it will protect him and I can stop the abuse by keeping my daughter close to me.” But of course my grandmother couldn’t protect her daughter and keep her eye on the baby 24/7, she had fields to work, a garden to grow and food to preserve, a house to keep and a family to feed, so Monster found opportunities to abuse his sister.

Monster grew up to be an alcoholic who beat his wife, tortured his children and girlfriends when the wife finally left. He had no remorse for what he did. He hated women and felt entitled to do what he did for his own entertainment. I was over 30 when I found out about his abuses. Because the family kept the secrets, even from me.

My mother grew up to be a hard core enabler, protecting the family bad boy, even after Monster’s death, she then started protecting my son Patrick and punishing me for trying to make him take the consequences. Even after she saw evidence that he had tried to have me killed, she chose to support him at the loss of the rest of her family, me and my two other sons.

Mom did her best to invalidate my fears and that hurt, then turned to anger, but eventually I learned that I can validate myself. I don’t need anyone else to validate what I know is truth. When Columbus thought the world was round and the rest of the population thought it was flat, it did not change the shape of the earth. Right is right. Truth is truth. But when we cover up for an offender, we injure their victims.

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  45 Responses to “What happens when we protect the abusers? Invalidation of the victims

  1. Zen, those words are also comforting for me, and repeating them on a daily basis helps to restore the truth of those matters because even now at times I will react to stress in a very upsetting way, but the GOOD news is that I can recover from that stress much quicker and more easily.

    When that woman went “off” on me, while it was surprising to say the least, I was able as she ranted on to pretty well “tune her out” and to not let her words get deeper than my ear drums, they didn’t penetrate my heart. ONLY because she is married to a dear friend and the mother of a dear friend did I pay her any attention at all. I was able to NOT shout back at her…her rant did NOT make me feel as if I had done something wrong. Also the validation of my actions as “right” by my son, a friend of his who saw the entire thing, and her husband who saw the entire thing also helped. We should be able to SELF validate, but validation from others is still very comforting.

    It was also interesting to note that the man who is married to that woman has a mother who is high in psychopathic traits, though she hides it in public, but behind closed doors she is a harpie! One of her sons is very high in P traits, but the one she despises (the husband) is aware of what she is and though he remains in “contact” with her on a very LIMITED BASIS, it makes me wonder from the screaming rant of his wife if he has not “married his mother” with this wife.

    He has talked to me about his mother (I’ve only met her a few times) and his brother, who I also know and recognize his High P traits, so I have a pretty good idea about the family dynamics, but hadn’t seen that kind of behavior out of his wife on the few times I’ve seen her, and the husband did not confide any problems with her so this was kind of an “eye opener” for me with this family. I do know he loves her very much, but I think he must recognize that SHE has some “problems” I don’t doubt that HE was embarrassed by how she behaved in a public venue.

    All of the situations like this one are learning tools if we look at them as such, rather than INTERNALIZING that it is “our fault” that someone is upset or unhappy. After a life time of being told and shown that everyone else’s happiness means that WE are at FAULT if someone else is unhappy, and OUR happiness doesn’t matter as we should sacrifice our own needs for someone else’s wants. So the whole situation though upsetting to me (mostly I think because of the URGENCY OF IT, and the impending problems) I also look at the entire thing as a learning experience, and I don’t find fault with what I did or said even though that woman was upset.

    • Joyce, the ongoing work to rewire my thinking processes will be “ongoing” until the day that I die, I believe. That’s not a terrible thing, when I consider it. Prior to getting serious about all of this, I didn’t do ANY self-work. Physical, emotional, medical, or spiritual, anything that focused on ME was out. There were codependent reasons for this, but there were also “martyrdom” issues, as well: if people (male, female, whatever) were AWARE of how much I sacrificed of myself, then they would be LESS prone to abandoning me, hurting me, abusing me, or dismissing me. ROTFLMAO!!!! The result of that line of thinking? Uh…………………no.

      It’s comforting to “know” that other people are working on it, and that it’s OKAY that “working on it” is an ongoing challenge! Before, I kept waiting for the one-and-done wave of the therapist’s magic wand to be over with all of it, and finally “cured.” LOLOLOL!!! At least, I can laugh about all of this, now. LOL!!!

      So………..it’s all “good” in the aspect that you responded appropriately, you didn’t leap down the rabbit hole of defense or aggression, and you were able to work through that event.

  2. Every day I think we have LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES but we only learn from them IF we first observe what they are, and secondly apply those opportunities to our thinking about how WE thought, behaved, responded, reacted, etc. Sometimes we can see that we did right, sometimes we acted or thought inappropriately.

    Actually, I’m proud of myself that I didn’t FREEZE under stress and allow the dog fight or the dead chicken to be the result of my freezing.

    Prey animals FREEZE when they are captured or see no way out, and in the past in car wrecks, and other scary things I would FREEZE for about 10 seconds, which makes me realize that at that time I was a PREY animal, and that prey animals freeze and accept their fate. They actually ZONE OUT so to speak and aren’t really aware of what is going on.dissociate completely. In the past I would also dissociate in times of extreme stress. I think that is what left me so vulnerable to PTSD, actually I think I’ve had ASPECTS of PTSD for the majority of my life.

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