The backlash was intense and all consuming. My decision to speak out about the multi-generational cycle of abuse in my family was not without consequence. But I knew that I had to protect my own children from becoming the next victim, and/or perpetrator, of sexual abuse – so I started writing, and I started talking. In the end, it was just my children and I but they are healthy and happy. For years the pain and confusion stemming from my family’s rejection of me sent me spinning. I couldn’t understand why they stood by and protected my older brother and abuser, and did everything that they could to silence and undermine me. Time and experience taught me the truths that I needed to understand their behavior.
The truth is that the only person I can control, is me. We can beg and plead for our families to open their hearts to our pain but in the end, there is no guarantee that they will. Yes, I do know survivors with families that opened their hearts, arms and homes to comfort and support them as a survivor of sexual abuse – but in all of my years of speaking with survivors, I have never found one who’s family did this if the cycle of abuse was multi-generational, as in, running through the generations of their family. When someone threatens family traditions, even if they are toxic, the family’s tendency is to lash out and fight to protect their comfort zone. So what are we to do?
The first thing to do is to look at your present and to your future. How do you typically feel at family gatherings, or even when you’re alone? Do you feel safe, loved and valued? Where do you want to be in 3 years? Happy? Productive? And what about your children, nieces or nephews? If you don’t feel happy and safe now and if you don’t feel confident that your children will also be happy and safe, then it’s time to take the next step and evaluate your willingness to enact change. You have to gear up for what’s ahead and when you’re ready?
Plan on them hating you for taking a stand and be okay with it. This one thing will give you the strength to do what it takes to break a cycle of abuse, heal and go on to live a happy and productive life. They are not going to thank you with tears in their eyes for showing them the error of their ways. They know the error of their ways and they don’t care! You have to make the decision to allow God to pick you up and plant your very own new set of roots into ground that is healthy and fertile because if you do, He will.
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