When I was eleven years old I was a young eleven. Certainly by today’s standards, I was a very young eleven. I was a compliant eleven — just the kind of girl who wanted to please everyone. I was just the kind of girl who wanted everything to work out well — to be happy — to be a family. Just the kind of girl one could trust to keep a secret.
Initially (and I believe this is most often the case with sexuallyabused girls) I didn’t grasp or understand what was really happening, nor that it was completely and absolutely inappropriate behaviour.
So, when I was praised for being Daddy’s good little girl and then was told that these things would be our little secret. I obeyed. Because that’s what I did — that’s the kind of girl I was: obedient. Daddy’s good little girl. [This Daddy was not my dear birth-father, nor the man who is my dear step father today. Just to be clear.]
It would be another year or so until I began to feel afraid, awkward and guilty about those “little secrets.” And I think this was part of the death of innocence , death of trust, death of freely loving others — and the beginning of fear, doubt, shame and deception in my life. Still earnestly desiring to please, to be a good girl and to be loved, I continued carrying “our little secret.” But in time I would avoid situations that would isolate me with him and I would feign sleep when he would come into my bedroom at night — then stirring just enough to frighten him off. Daddy’s good little girl was beginning to grasp that this behaviour or these activities were wrong in this context.
I recall the day I stumbled into the sickening reality that this “little secret” really was wrong — not normal — not okay. During homemaking class at school one day, there was a group of girls huddled together over a paperback book. And as they were reading excerpts from the book, they attempted to muffle their gasps and laughter. A large area of that homemaking classroom was divided into several “kitchens” for cooking assignments. I could hear them in the adjacent “kitchen” and I remember being assaulted by the reality of sexualbehaviour and having mixed emotions — youthful curiosity mixed with the desire to be in their group.
What was my revelation? I was suddenly deeply sobered by guilt and gripped with shame over knowing what they were talking about. As I listened to their talk, it dawned on me that they didn’t have their “facts” straight. I wanted to say: “no, it doesn’t happen like that.” And then I knew. I knew at that moment that I knew what I shouldn’t know. It sank in. And another part of me died.
I wish I could say here that I immediately rushed home and told my mother. But I can’t, because I didn’t. I didn’t tell her then for some of the very same reasons girls grow up to become women who still carry the deep secret… and that reason is: fear.
[correction in this paragraph] I’m sure people wonder why girls and women don’t tell. It’s no different from any other “forbidden” or “naughty” thing. No one wants others to know they have had “bad” things going on… whether that bad thing is/was pornaddiction, drugs, theft, bulimia, anger, abortion — and the list goes on. I don’t know why we all fall into that bondage, but I’m going to guess it’s the oldest reason in the Book. Fear. They’re afraid. So it is for little girls who are being abused. They’re too afraid of the consequences of telling. I was afraid. I knew I needed to tell my mother. But I was afraid of what would happen to her if I told. I was afraid of what would happen to me if I told. Because, part of the “our little secret” was: “we don’t want to hurt mother.” A child doesn’t grasp the subtle nuance of what “hurt mother” means. They, like all of us, only know what they know — and to a child, hurt means: hitting, burning, falling, cutting, killing… stuff that causes hurt.
More months would pass… I knew I needed to TELL. I was beginning to be afraid of what would happen to me if I didn’t. Soon I would muster up the courage to tell “our little secret.”
3 thoughts on “It’s not our little secret.”
Thank you, Nicole, for writing, for bravely and succinctly describing CSA and it’s many facets and the necessity (but the great difficulty as well) of bringing it to the light — and to the Light.
I, too, for many years didn’t speak about it too openly bcz of the lives (my mother, my birth-father and my now-stepfather who is/was NOT the perp the perp was my mother’s second husband, now dead) my story encompasses. I thought to protect them from criticism—–but that, too, is a tool of the enemy. Silence, hide it, shame-on-you for telling your story (that includes other’s stories that aren’t yours to tell). I had a woman tell me one time that I ought not be sharing bcz my story includes living people… blah, blah, blah. My mother is quite well aware of the situation and in a way, I know that *my* healing is *her* healing, too. Bcz she lived with, tried to be sane with that abusive, sex addict. So, she knows I love her and do not hold her responsible at all. And, I make sure I tell people that, too. Bcz my pain *is* her pain, too. I pray the Lord continues to heal it completely.
As for your life, your story, your ministry… and that you lovely life will be an influence for God, for good, for His glory and the healing of others’ lives. It’s painful and sometimes shameful or embarrassing—but it’s worth sharing so that others can be set free—being able to share their own hidden, painful, shameful stories. It’s not our little secret. That is a lie.
God bless you with strength and grace… and may He use you to be the open door to that sufficient grace for healing and redemption.
with love… pamela
I have shared my testimony and personal journey one-on-one for a long time. I have wanted to speak publicly about the sexual abuse that I endured as a child, and encourage others to speak up and begin to heal from those deep wounds we carry for much of our lives. I decided to post on facebook because lives continue to be devastated while we remain silent. Some too chained and burdened to speak out, while others are buried under the weight of guilt and shame. While others, in an effort to protect their families, ignore their painful past to their own detriment. I want to increase awareness and help people begin to face sexual abuse and heal. I also want abusers and potential abusers to understand how lives are affected by lustful self-gratification using children. I thank you for being willing to share your testimony. Hopefully there will be an avenue for me to continue to speak openly and God will give me strength and grace to share hope and healing with the wounded and broken.