Breaking the Silence

After today’s therapy session I felt exhausted. Two hours of dealing with the aftermath of a suicide attempt earlier in the week. Thankfully for my family not successful but I had to to come to terms with the fact that it had not been  blunt and awful as that is to admit. I have been plagued by flashbacks and they are unrelenting leaving me very suicidal. We went through the ‘attempt’ and the flashbacks and reached the conclusion we always reach that not being able to confront my abusers leaves most of the damage totally unresolved and almost impossible to resolve. We are finding other ways to resolve issues though through EMDR and are having successful with dealing with Dissociative Identity Disorder through Psychotherapy. It’s just a slow process and often the flashbacks run over the top of me and take over and run the show.

For survivors who can face their perpetrators that have rendered them vulnerable to exploitation in the past, they may also identify sources of continued social pressure the keep them confined in a victim role in the present. It is not easy to come forward. Just as they must overcome their own fears and inner conflicts, they just also overcome these external social pressures; otherwise, they will continually be subjected to symbolic repetitions of the trauma in everyday life.Whereas in the first stage of recover survivors deal with social adversity mainly by retreating to a protected environment, in the third stage survivors are ready to reveal their secrets, to challenge the indifference or censure or bystanders, and to accuse those who have abused.

Survivors who grew up in abusive families have often cooperated for years with the family rule of silence. In preserving the family secret, they carry the weight of a burden the does not belong to them.   At this point in their recovery, the survivor may choose to declare to their families txt the rule so silence has been irrevocably broken,  In so doing, they renounce the burden of shame, guilt, and responsibility, and place this burden not eh perpetrator, where it reply belongs.

Family confrontations or disclosures ca be highly empowering when they are properly tied and well planned.  they should not be undertaken until the  power of disclosure rests in the act of telling the truth;  how the family responds is immaterial. While validation from the family can be gratifying when it occurs, a disclosure session may be successful even if the family respond with unyielding denial or fury.  In this circumstance the survivor has the opportunity to observe the family’s behaviour and to enlarge her understanding of the pressures she faced as a child.

In practice, family disclosures or confrontations require careful preparations and attention to detail.  Because many family interactions are habitual and taken for granted, the dynamics of dominance and submission are frequently re-lived even to in apparently trivial encounters. The survivor should be encouraged to take care of the planning of the session and to establish explicit ground rules.  For some survivors, it is a completely novel experience to be the maker of rules rather than the one who automatically obeys them.

The survivor should also be clear about her strategy for disclosure, planning in advance what information she wishes to reveal and to who she wishes to reveal it. While some survivors wish to confront their perpetrators, many more wish to disclose the secret to non-offending family members. the survivor should be encouraged to consider first proceeding to confront those who might be implacably hostile. Just like a seres of graded exercises, in which the survivor masters one level of fear before choosing to proceed to higher levels of exposure.

Finally, the survivor should anticipate and plan for the various possible outcomes of her disclosure. While she may be clear about the desired outcome must be prepared to accept whatever the outcome may be. A successful disclosure is always followed by both  exhilaration and disappointment. On the one hand, the survivor feels surprised at her own courage and daring. She no longer feels surprised at her own courage and daring. She no longer feels intimidated by her family or compelled to participate in destructive family relationships.  She is no longer confined by secrecy, she has nothing more to hide.  on the other hand, she gains a clearer sense of her family’s limitations and often the subsequent disappointment.

The decision to come forward to a family is an enormous decision and takes extraordinary bravery as relationships and can be irrevocably broken. It is highly risky but for many the only way forward to true healing. A good therapist will guide you through the process and debrief you adequately.

I wish I could reveal to my family and face my perpetrators. I wish to be heard and wish my story to be heard by those I love and hold dear but the time is not right. Timing is crucial. 

I would love to hear from you so please leave a comment. All feedback is much appreciated. Thank you. Erin

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