You don't like the Sound of the Truth Coming from my Mouth

Monday, August 28, 2006

"Truth Hurts People"

This was a comment sent in by an anonymous reader of TWC.

I felt like I'd been slapped when it came into my inbox.

My breathing shortened. My face got red. I felt like a little girl who had just been caught doing something that she had been warned against doing. The same feeling when you told a secret about your family...and realize that it was never meant to be shared or even acknowledged as happening.

Next came my anger at feeling shamed. Who was this person to tell me that I was hurting people? That "Truth" hurts people? Who the fuck were they to pass this judgment?

AS I sat here, feeling enraged, feeling shamed, feeling guilty for something I had done, I had created, it occurred to me.

These are the feelings of a survivor of sexual abuse. One who talks.

I am one of those women. My perp? My biological father. I was ten. He was not the first, as I was quite the favorite of many of my older male cousins ... until I learned that yelling for my mother at the top of my lungs seemed to keep them away. He was not the only abusive man in the family, for my uncles perpetrated against my other female cousins, I later learned.

He was, however, the least expected. My father. The man I adored. The one that I wanted to please beyond all reason. He was the one to sexually assault me. In my house. After my parents had separated.

My mother, thinking she had left this man, and that the damage he could do to my brother and I was minimized never dreamed that he would come for a Christmas visit and bring this sort of catastrophe.

And like almost all young children who experience this, I kept quiet. I had nightmares. I wouldn't be in the same room alone with him during summer visitations. My signals got crossed. The man who was supposed to love and protect me was my abuser.

This became a distinctive pattern as I aged and began to date. I loved the emotionally distant ones. The more they resisted me, ignored me, emotionally abused me? Like candy. When one got me pregnant and emotionally and physically abandoned me? He became the penultimate love of my life. I would have abandoned my education for this man. I would have had this baby at age 20. To please him. To have him choose me. To give me anything, anything at all. My sacrifice was proof of my love, my worthiness of his love, but still he never chose me.

The first time I talked of my abuse was in my therapy sessions. Trying to figure out where my irrational anger and impulsively as coming from as I whirled in crazier and crazier circles, my therapist finally asked me point blank.

And I told her the truth.

And she cried.

To sit in front of your therapist and detail in a flat demeanor the horrors of your childhood, ,and to have her cry as she told me that none of this was my fault? It was honestly the first time that it may have occurred to me the enormity of the impact that this had on my life path. I was not crying. She was. How could I not cry when it had happened to me, and she was weeping simply hearing my dialogue?

Next I told my mother, and she cried and raged and vowed to kill this man. But I did not cry. I had lived with it for nearly nine years. I had hidden and distorted my truth for so long, it no longer resembled anything but a story for me. An experience, much like falling from your bike and scraping your knee. Or being brought into a drug house so your father can use you as a shield in front of his buyer? Or the time your father shot your dogs one winter because they were barking? Or that time he shot the glass out in the car as your mother drove away from the house when you were five? Or the time that he threatened to kill Santa, and took his gun out to the back yard to prove to you that he was serious? Or the time that you were nine and he taught you how to smoke a bong? Or that time when you were ten and he sexually assaulted you on New Years Eve?

You mean everyone doesn't have these stories?

So, "Truth hurts people" commenter, I respectfully disagree. Truth doesn't hurt people, secrets hurt people. The secrets we keep from our loved ones to spare them pain. The secrets we keep from ourselves. The secrets we keep for fear that we won't be liked, or loved, or admired. Maybe the truths expressed at TWC are the first time someone is saying their truth out loud. You don't have to like it. Hell, you don't have to read it, and you don't even have to agree that there should be a place like this to express yourself.

But keep the shaming to yourself. This is what keeps abused people silent. And I, for one, won't shut up to please you.

48 Baleful Regards:

Anonymous said...

Dawn. I don't know what to say. Except this: you are amazing, and I love you.

halloweenlover said...

Fucking A.

You really are amazing.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the truth hurts people. It washes away the veneer of "everything is OK" and exposes the hard facts that you both are not happy with the way things are.

The truth hurts both sides.

It hurts the person who is telling the truth. They risk even geater emotional pain - as the hearer of the truth usually is unable to fully comprehend how bad things really are.

The truth also hurts the hearer. All of a sudden, their entire viewpoint of the world changes when they hear what is being said. Life is no longer the same, and they may not believe the speaker. Often times, the hearer chooses to brush off what is said - blaming hormones or other circumstances... *anything* to lessen the blow of the truth just heard.

But the truth MUST be told.

Time does not heal *all* wounds. Time also causes the roots of bitterness and distrust to grow deeper. Staying silent to "keep the peace" is rarely an option if the long-term health of the relationship is at stake. No one would want a doctor who would not tell of a patient of their life-threatening illness because it might upset them.

It takes courage to tell the truth. Courage to stand in the face of what you know will be a blistering attack on your credibility, intentions, motivations, and ultimately your LOVE for that person.

...but it must be told...

Anonymous said...

I am so proud of you. Not just for your honesty but also for being able to do what you have in your life in spite of everything rather than using it as an excuse.

You inspire me Dawn.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say I am so sorry for what happened to you as a child. No one deserves to have their childhood ripped away like that. You sound like you have grown into a strong woman despite the horrible abuse you suffered at the hands of someone who was supposed to love you.

God bless you.

Gina in Texas

Anonymous said...

I doubt that this will be coherent, as this issue strikes SO very close to home. However, I just wanted the "truth hurts" person to imagine how much more it hurts as a five-year old to do all the stupid work required to keep the secret. I can not be any more eloquent on this as I choke up/dry up when I try to write more, but anyway, there's that. Just because we were minors when it happened to us does not mean we need to help keep the facade up for society's sake. blah. (behold my eloquent ending. :) )


Erin said...

Of course telling the truth hurts sometimes, but can it possibly hurt more than the actual event that caused all of the damage in the first place? While painful, it is also extremely liberating to finally feel free to discuss all of the hurtful, horrible things that have happened. And the good things. Dialogue leads to healing. As a fellow survivor of abuse, I am glad you have brought the issue out into the open. Thank you, and may your life from here out be blessed.

Anonymous said...

I wept when I read this. Sexual abuse didn't happen to me, though it happened to TWO families of three girls (by the father) that I knew growing up. Happened to my family members, happened to friends, happened to my former customers, happens to my students. When I list the numbers of people I know who have been sexually abused as children, sexually assaulted as adults, when I go back to my own near-abduction by a sexual predator when I was five... people are aghast. And I think, why? You mean you don't hear these stories from people you know and care about? What's with you, that people can't TELL you these things? Believe it, I say. It happens all the time. And I've never yet NOT cried when I've heard one of these stories.

Goddamn, you are one strong woman. Keep on doing what you're doing. You must have an idea of how much it means to your community of readers, those who love to read what you write, and understand and experience it -- and support you. And fuck those people who criticize TWC. You don't have to look at their comments. Don't let it hurt you... there's a lot of love coming your way, Dawn. Thank you.

SuzanH said...

You are amazing, truly.

I'm so glad I happened upon your sites. Your words have helped me in my own journey. It IS important to be who you are. And not to keep quiet about it.

Don't stop.

Bobita said...

I read my story in your words. Almost word for word. Even the part about the therapist who cried at my emotionless re-telling of my experience. And mine was the dad who left me in the car whilst visiting prostitutes.

Dawn, what I have to say to you...what I have to say while standing in solidarity WITH you is...FUCK, YEAH!

I echo your words...
"Truth doesn't hurt people, secrets hurt people. The secrets we keep from our loved ones to spare them pain. The secrets we keep from ourselves. The secrets we keep for fear that we won't be liked, or loved, or admired."

And again, I say...FUCK, YEAH!!

Anonymous said...

I feel like I have a comment but I just can't put it into words right now. The more I read your blogs, the more amazed I am. You are one hell of a woman.

Anonymous said...

Jesus, Dawn.

Another one of my father's mantras was that it's much easier to learn from others' experience, if at all possible. God knows I've never been through the sort of hell that you have, but knowing it exists will help me to help my girls avoid it.

Thank you, yet again, for your courage. Keep on telling the truth. Get it out there. Shine the light on everything that people don't want known.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry, Dawn. How your father could even consider himself to BE a father is beyond me. Knowing that you have been through all of that, and are accomplishing so much, is a testament to the strength of your character.

You keep right on telling your own truth, and posting everyone else's at TWC. You are helping people in so many ways. I love you, I really do.

Anonymous said...

Dawn, I don't know many people who have been able to rise above such painful experiences to live as full and emotionally healthy a life as you have. Sure you've had your ups and downs, but JESUS, how could you not?

You are amazing and strong and kind. And you are the last person I would ever consider a victim. You've always seemed like a fighter to me and now I know why.


motherbumper said...

I'm sorry this all happened to you and to share it all takes amazing strength.
thank you for TWC.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you have a voice. And that you aren't afraid to stand up and use it. Bravo, Dawn. I commend your bravery, your courage, conviction and spirit.

SUEB0B said...

I love you for who you are: amazing. Kick ass, woman.

And I am a bit worried about your letter writer. Truth hurts people? As in TWC truth? Because it is all anonymous. No one names names or gives details, so how can anyone be hurt unless they recognize elements of their own story in the anonymous stories that are being told.

Toltec master Don Miguel Ruiz (the Four Agreements) says we have emotional bodies to go along with our physical bodies. And when we have hidden emotional pain, it is like an infected wound that is only healed on the surface. So when someone bumps our emotional wound with their words or actions, we react all out of proportion to what is happening in the present because it hurts so damn bad.

I think your letter-writer should be able to relate to that.

Lisa said...

Oh My God Dawn. I read your letter. And Oh my god.

I am so very sorry this was your childhood. I thought mine was rough but it was a cakewalk compared to yours.

Thank you for having the strength to talk about this. Thank you for not feeling ashamed. It WASN'T your fault. You are a surviver. And I'm very proud of you.

SUEB0B said...

I have you some linky love over at Linkateria

oshee said...

I think Suebob hit it on the head. I think your commenter on TWC has some truth that needs spilling..or at least accepting. Truth can be ugly, but lies aren't any prettier.

You've had some wonderful, supportive comments here and I say ditto to all of it.

My first thought after reading all of this was honestly, "That's why acupunture works so well for you!". Our bodies store up the ugly energy surrounding them. Your body has such a physical need for release it is just begging for the acupunture. I bet even when you are unable to emote what you are feeling, your body responds dramatically to intense situations. Just like your quilting. A physcial manifestation of love. I bet you've already had this light bulb moment about yourself. I just loved the kinetic connection you have with your world.

JayMonster said...

I don't have any words that can express what I think properly.

&$^%*$&%*#($* Sick Bastards.

Woman with Kids said...

Truth hurts people? In the same way that sexual education and condoms encourage kids to have sex?

I would not respectfully disagree with this anonomous coward, I'd be rather disrespectful to him/her. But you said it well.

Anonymous said...

I cried reading your story. I cried for you, even though the story is mine, too. Well said, Dawn, well said.

(de-lurking reader of twc)

Anonymous said...

Dawn, an emotional outpouring regardless of how it came to be is always cathartic for those who tell it and those who listen.

Your quote "You mean everyone doesn't have these stories?" struck a chord with me. I suffered, but I wasn't the one abused, but it's still something that shames me for I wasn't able to protect my son. I did all the correct things one is supposed to do when one finds herself in the situation I found myself in (self-reporting abuse to family doctor, self-reporting to SRS) only to have the "system" use me in an attempt to trap the Pedophile, which backfired on everyone ... Perp was prosecuted, but IF I try to find out how long he had to go to jail for, the authorities will see that as me trying to get back in contact with the MONSTER (as if); I was put on the State's list of domestic abusers, I was brought up on criminal charges of domestic abuse, and I had lost custody of my son. All because the System wanted to entrap the pedophile so he couldn't slip away all because the SYSTEM thought this evilness in a man's body really loved me (for I had fallen for him, HOW I have no idea now). I am able to say that once the "man's" true nature was objectivly shown to me, not through some over-worked, over-weight, harried SRS worker's "how-not-to-interview-a-5-yr-old"'s report, not on my own biased view of this "monster", but on an unbiased private investigor's report (hired by my father w/o my knowledge). I SAW the monster for what he was and got the hell out of dodge. That pivotal action on my part allowed the Court to see I WAS being manipulated by the MONSTER (finally) and wheels started spinning in the correct direction. It was slow going at first, supervised visitation (for they thought it was I who bruised my son's face), then slowly oh so slowly did I finally regain JOINT custody through our divorce (my son's father and I). I ended up going through Court Diversion - my first "Offence" and all and a 2 year probabion period.

Then I moved back home (from Vermont back to Maine) to heal. That was back in 1996/97 and I remember it so vividly and I was not the one who was harmed. Yet I don't think I'll ever be able to forgive myself for not seeing the MONSTER for what he was and allowing him to TOUCH my son. It's so painful still, yet it is in the past and I just think ... "You mean you don't have a similar story?" It's odd how much a sole can endure when it needs to.

Dawn, TWC is a Godsend to many. I love my new husband dearly, yet he has his issues and I've actually sent you a post to TWC, it HELPED. I could "yell" at him about all his flaws, get it off my chest, out of me so it would stop festering inside and I could move on. For those who naysay TWC, they just haven't lived a REAL life and have no idea that the plastic world they idealize is nonexistant, though their bliss distorts their reality.

that girl said...

right on. right fucking on.

(linkateria sent me... glad i came)

Anonymous said...

Dawn, I have stared at the screen for a long time now. So many things I wish I could say to you, all woefully inadequate. I hope that you feel the energy behind the words I offer, You are a phenomenal woman.

Peace be with you.

Anonymous said...

We live in a society where something like child abuse happens and then we're supposed to shut up about it because the truth might hurt the feelings of the person who perpetrated it. might hurt his family to know what sorry sack of shit he is. It's a very Victorian notion, you know. Just like all those stupid situations in Miss Manners where a letter writer's relatives show up unannounced and stay for a month in your home, eat your food, drink your wine and leave without saying thank you, but you--the host--would be terribly rude to point out their rudeness.

Is that what this fool commenter was talking about? She/he's saying that we shouldn't hurt people by telling them something they don't want to hear?

Tough shit. Throwing up isn't pleasant, but keeping all of that shit inside of one's body doesn't solve anything either.

If people don't own responsibility for the ways they hurt other people, it's a moral imperative to force them to own it by TELLING THE TRUTH.

You did the right thing, Dawn. I'm proud of you.

Diana said...

Oh, Dawn. I hate that this all happened to you, I don't even have words.
TWC is one of the greatest sites I've seen, it's theraputic for some, and while the submission I sent was not drastic, it still helped to get it out. I want to thank you for making that site, where so many people can go and share their secrets.
some people just feel better keeping their secrets inside I guess. Not me, and not all the women who send in submissions.

Jenny said...

Hey Dawn! Brava Lady!

Andrea said...

I don't know what to say. I am awed by your strength, your ability to rise above the shit you've lived through, and mostly by your advocating for people who can't stand up for themselves.

That is the best part. You're speaking out and breaking silences for other people, through your support of them and through creating sites like TWC. You know, you've been there, and you're not fucking taking it anymore.

Yeah, truth hurts. But it also heals. Secrets are the real hurt. The world needs more Dawns.

Mitzi Green said...

amen, sister. and how.

you rock my world.

Mommygoth said...

Holy shit, Dawn. Everything everybody else said. And then some. I am so proud of you. For surviving. For speaking. For being stronger than your story.

Fraulein N said...

I want to second ... and third ... and fourth what the other commenters are saying here. I'm sorry you had to live through that abuse and the aftermath. I'm awed by your bravery in talking about it publicly. Dawn, you didn't just survive, you THRIVED.

Meghan said...

Holy Shit Dawn.

I hope you already know this to the bottom of your soul. You deserved so much better than that. NO ONE had the right to do those things to you. You are pure of heart and soul. Good God I wish I could keep that from happening to anyone. Ever.
And you are one hundred percent right. We need to tell the truth. It's the secrets that make us sick. That comment came from a sick person.

You are a beautiful and brave human being.

Anonymous said...

Ya know I'm going to post this anon for good reason, but you all keep slamming the person who wrote, "truth hurts people" when she didn't mean it the way it was written. She explains that and apologized profusely to Dawn and even got an english lesson to boot. Maybe some of you haven't read every single thing, I don't know. I might have interpreted it all in a different way and if I have upset anyone I will apologize right now. (So, please don't get angry with me too.) I will say, "The truth hurts, it is also gratifying, liberating and scary." The truth is reality. Which you must face to move forward, to grow. Dawn, you are an amazing brave woman who writes eloquently about yourself. It is witty, interesting, and helpful. I love to read you. (I'm sorry, I kinda feel sorry for that anon commentor.)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your story. As the daughter and grandaugher of abuse survivors I know how deep and wide the effects are. Much love and admiration for you.

Feral Mom said...

Dammit. Dammit dammit dammit. Fuck. I wish swearing and anger helped. I wish being sorry helped. I want to go back in time and hug little Dawn and kick your dad's ass...but you don't need time machines. You have your voice. You kicked ass already when you broke the silence, and kept breaking the silence, and then created a way for more women to break THEIR silences. And somehow, you manage to triumph through the shitstorms AND be funny and brave and true, and for that, you are the fucking Woman of the Year. Forget the Blogosphere.

E. said...

Dawn, thank you for telling the truth. And thank you for providing an outlet for other women to tell their truths. Your story makes me feel deep anger and sorrow, but your strength and bravery and humor and most of all your tenacious commitment to yourself and to the real fucking deal make me so happy.

Jenny said...

Much love to you, Dawn. You are amazing.

Her Bad Mother said...

You are brave, you are powerful, you are amazing. And I love you, and am proud to know you. Real proud.

Jen R. said...

I posted this on your other site, but I'll say it here, too:

We're only as sick as the secrets we keep....I say it over and over again in my recovery from alcoholism. You are so right....

You are courageous.

Mom101 said...

Jesus Dawn, just Jesus.

You are strong and amazing. Wow.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Dawn - I'm chiming in late here, but I just have to tell you what an amazing person you are. Thank you for being brave enough to share your story. I'm so sorry this happened to you.

carolinagirl79 said...

Aw honey. (hug)

Anonymous said...

Thank you, from one sexual abuse survivor to another.

Slackermommy said...

This is my first time to your blog and even though it has been said many times already I must say it again. You rock! My daughter was molested by her cousin and with much resistance from my hubby's family I exposed secrets to help the girls involved. I'm sickened that so many people feel it's better to keep quiet. I'm like you, I will never shut up.

Anonymous said...

The truth may hurt someone, but not as much as secrets will. I hate that we live in a world where a woman feels shame when someone does or did something awful to her. I'm glad you were able to realize it's not your fault. I'm also glad you were able to tell your mom and that she is supportive of you. And look at everyone here...

You've done an amazing thing just by sharing your story. You are strong and beautiful and courageous, Dawn. {{hugs}}

Cristina said...

I can't imagine the trauma you've been through. You are so courageous, Dawn. You are undoubtedly helping many, many people by sharing your story and by helping others voice their story via your TWC site. Be proud, and keep on encouraging truth.'ve got e-mail.

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