“Don’t ask, don’t tell…” It’s been in the news a lot lately concerning the controversy of gays in the military. While I do not intend to minimalize that issue, I do want to bring a separate issue to the forefront.

I am a survivor of child molestation. I am a survivor of domestic violence. Since coming through both traumas of life, moving into the position of advocate, I have not only learned a great deal of valuable information that needs to be shared with other victims, but hindsight has, as it usually does, become 20/20. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to look back and find many “duh” moments in my life. The past is for learning from, not living in, and there is a treasure trove of helpful information back there I often bring to the now.

As a little girl I endured molestation between the ages of 7 – 15. One of the first things imbedded into my heart, soul and mind was “Don’t tell. Don’t you dare tell!” After all, if I told, it would be “all my fault,” and I’d be further victimized by the repercussions of speaking out. Looking around through the eyes of a child, it pretty soon became apparent nobody was going to ask, either. What they didn’t know or care to recognize meant it either did not exist, or it had no reason to be addressed. I finally did decide to speak out at the age of 15. I came to feel I’d die if I didn’t reveal it and make it stop. What was I told when I finally got the courage up? “Okay, well, we can’t tell anybody. We’ll just have to keep it to ourselves.” It doesn’t leave a lot to the imagination as to how a foundation of accepting abuse was set in my life.

At the age of 17, I entered the domestic violence era of life. Engaged to an alcoholic, the verbal abuse began almost instantly. After I married at age 18, the emotional abuse came, and over the years it escalated to physical and sexual abuse. BUT… I could not tell. What would others think of me? I had been perceived as a happy-go-lucky good girl who followed closely her Christian values, stayed out of trouble and who my mother described as, “The easiest child to raise. She never got into anything.” So, to save the family embarrassment or shame (or disappointment in their good little girl), I once again was in a position of “Don’t tell.” There were a handful of times someone would ask, but riveted in fear of further and more intense abuse, affecting my children in ways they did not deserve, and being a stay-at-home mom, wondering how I’d possibly support them if we did get out of that environment, as desperately as I wanted to speak out, I chose “Don’t tell.”

During the years since the divorce (yes, I finally broke free), I have learned a lot about myself, and as importantly, about domestic violence and abuse. One of, if not the foremost, enemies of abuse, molestation or domestic violence is silence! So, when it comes to stopping the unacceptable levels of children being molested and/or abused, or victims being physically violated, or killed, DO ASK! And victims? Be sure you are safe, but DO TELL. There are agencies and organizations there to help you escape this unspeakable travesty. You deserve to be free, happy and empowered.

Find valuable information on the Victim Support page of my website: http://www.orangeblossomwishes.com.


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