Fear scorches. It reminds us of the scorched marks of abuse from previous days. It does not burn us to a crisp because few abusers want to relinquish the control, and pleasure, through total extinguishing obliteration. But scorched we are, regularly – and, in order to tell our truths, we often have to hide…
Four times now, I have written posts under a pseudonym and hidden them on other people’s sites.
Why? Because they told the truth about things I am too frightened to open up to on here. Because there are people who see my posts who, frankly, cannot be trusted. I can do nothing about the latter. These individuals followed me on Google at a time when I thought their reading of my writing was harmless and supportive.
I have, at least, stopped deleting posts on here. But it is a tragic indictment of my own fear and inner hurt that I still feel the need to hide the truth from the nay-sayers, the doubters and the tale-tellers.
I have a deep and wide understanding of abuse in most of its forms: Physical from having been beaten up regularly by other children when I was young; sexual, mental, emotional and spiritual from incidents, both experienced personally and learned about as a teacher, which have occurred during my adult life.
Reading back over the posts I have written about abuse (and recalling the hundreds now gone), something hits me: There is complete consistency in my story. Whether written as fiction or disguised fact, truth shines through. I am neither lying nor deluded.
The reality of my abuse and bullying pieces are too clear for any of them to be hysterical invention, fantasy or dementia-inspired false memories.
I know, for I have dipped into them, that many abused people, men and women, start anonymous blogs (blacking out their photographic images, disappearing for long periods of time, having the courage to shriek their excruciating testimonies to the world) – and I salute them for this bravery; for telling abuse absolutely the way it is without romantic overtones or abuser-justification or turning a harrowing reality into a neat fairy tale.
Many writers in abusive situations start with enormous terror and self-doubt. They wonder if they are imagining the abuse. They fear that they will be disbelieved. They are in constant panic lest their abuser gets to know about the posts, reads them…
But reading other people’s stories of abuse can be immensely reassuring: We are able to see that the symptoms we have tried to give another name to for so long are replicated in other victims’ lives; that we are by no means alone in our fear, anxiety and pain; that the trigger points we have noticed are common to many other abusers.
We should not have to feel ashamed and petrified, constantly looking over our shoulders lest the abusive other catches us opening up. The abuser is the one who should feel ashamed and fearful: Ashamed of his or her own behaviour and fearful of being found out, named and shamed, seen through and stopped.
No writer should have to hide truth upon another writer’s site because of fear. No writer should have to take the anonymity option in order to protect an abuser. But we do, don’t we? We cover our own deepest wounds and truths in order to stop other close kin or friends finding out. We do it to protect children or elderly parents or siblings. We do it because we are powerless and scared of being disbelieved, of making things even worse by saying, ‘This is what happened.’
We do it because all abuse targets the mind and makes us doubt our own mental health, reality and status in the wider world.
But – every time we hide a post in another’s safe site, we are letting an abuser win yet again; we are allowing abuse to continue; we are letting ambiguity enter the equation and giving those who do not believe our stories a ‘Liar’ sticker to pin to our backs.
We are not obliged to believe our abuser’s view that we deserve, provoke or invent the abuse. We should never apologise to our abusers once they have hurt us. We should avoid making excuses for their behaviour to our friends and families.
We should tell the truth: To ourselves first and foremost; to those we trust and love; to those who doubt our every word and say so; to our abusers; to any outside agencies which get involved. We should not exaggerate or make things up to impress. In most cases, the litany of abuse is quite enough starkly seen by itself.
And we should hold our heads high and refuse to hide our truths. Because we did not ask to be abused, we did not provoke or deserve it and we do not need to feel shame as a result of another’s dysfunctional attitude and abusive behaviour.
We are scorched and scarred. Our souls, and sometimes bodies, are marked with previous abuse’s taunting cigarette lighter. We stand by the metaphorical window, black silhouettes, truth trembling on scorched lips…
I do not yet have the courage to share links to these other sites – but, one day I will.
One day, my posts will no longer be hidden – and nor will I. One day…