These days, I’ve been acutely aware of how frightening it is for those of us who were sexually abused as children to tell our stories. In less than a month, I’ll be launching my book Confessions of a Trauma Therapist: A Memoir of Healing and Transformation. I’ll be telling the whole world (or anyone who reads the book) about my family secrets. I’m an expert in helping those suffering from childhood trauma to heal from their past.
And yet, these nights my own nightmares fill me with the terror of my mother’s rage for telling what went on in our “nice” family even though my mother died a long time ago. The plot varies in my nightmares. The emotion is always the same. I’m in danger and I’m terrified.
Every cell of the body seems to warn most survivors against disclosing. Many of us carried secrets that were so terrible that we ourselves forgot them and lived a dissociated existence. We survived by fogging over when anything touching on memory surfaced.
But even when it’s no longer dangerous, the body still seems to hold the dread of telling. Something terrible will happen to us if we clear our heads and tell our stories. It’s just one more of the ways in which the original betrayal impacts on and limits our lives.