No one wants to hear stories of abuse, but that failure to listen has turned into a disbelief of victims.
“We didn’t know,” the civilians said when asked about the gas chambers after World War II.
“We didn’t know,” neighbors say when they learn that the man across the street had molested a boy.
“We didn’t know,” parents say when their adult children talk about their past sexual abuse.
When I began to deal with my abuse, I told my three older sisters. They said the same thing.
I don’t think they were lying. I think they couldn’t accept the enormity of the revelation. If they had known, perhaps they wouldn’t have been able to face the personal guilt for doing nothing.
What about abused kids’ point of view when they hear those responses. One of the witnesses against Jerry Sandusky said he never told anyone. Asked why, he repeated an answer that rang true to me and to many others, “Who would believe a kid?”
When the perpetrator is a prominent person in the community, leads a scout troop, teaches Sunday school, or runs a charitable organization for kids, who wants to hear such stories?
The answer: No one wants to hear such stories.
Perhaps the question should be, Who needs to hear such stories?
When asked that way, the answer is obvious. Parents, religious and civic leaders need to hear. But too often they don’t.
Sandusky’s wife said she never heard the boy screaming in the basement. Apparently, she also didn’t know when their adopted son said Sandusky molested him repeatedly for several years.
When will they believe us?
When will the cries of bruised and raped boys be heard?
Until they are, the survivor on the witness stand has spoken for all of us who were abused in the past. He speaks for those who are or will be molested.
“Who would believe a kid?”
Cecil Murphey is the author or co-author of more than 100 books, including 90 Minutes in Heaven, which was on the New York Times’ best-seller list for five years. He is also the author of When a Man You Love Was Abused. His new book about sexual abuse, Not Quite Healed, will be released in February 2013.
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Photo credit: Flickr / OakleyOriginals