The greatest fear that survivors of sexual trauma have is not revictimization.
It is denial.
“No way. That story is just too graphic to be believed.”
“Gang rape? Childhood sexual abuse? Those things don’t happen in our community.”
“This is not that common.”
The second greatest fear of abuse survivors is denial’s first cousin: minimization.
“She must have done something to invite the assault.”
“He’s a grown man now, and should long have gotten past this.”
“Just forgive and move on.”
Judging by the myths about sexual abuse that are cherished, believed, and repeated by those who have not experienced it, these fears of survivors are completely rational and well-founded.
No wonder many fear to come forward. They will not be fully believed. Their stories will be discounted and explained away or, at the worst, completely ignored.
They will be revictimized twice over. Once when they painfully recount the trauma. Another time when they are doubted.
And so the lips of many survivors are tightly shut. They hold the aching truth within their hearts, and this only leads to more denial and minimization from those around them.
“The problem is not that bad.”
“This has never happened to anyone I know.”
Silence is golden to the denier and minimizer. They create the climate in which abuse flourishes and keep it going by such passive-aggressive victim-shaming.
I will forever thank God that I was believed. I will eternally praise Him for the ones I trusted enough to tell my story. They didn’t offer me minimizing platitudes or rush to help me “get over it”. They listened. They comforted.
And it is because of them that I am where I am today.