Why So Long?
Why does it take some victims years to come forward, sometimes twenty, thirty years or more? The answer is very simple especially for those of us who have been victims of sex crime. Two main reasons is fear and shame. Fear of rejection, I will be rejected and what I say as truth will be rejected. Fear that no one will believe me. Fear that I will be ridiculed, made an object of entertainment. Fear of repercussions, etc. And then there is shame . Shame that I allowed this to happen to me. It’s my fault. Shame of being tricked, exposed and used. Fear, shame, blame, guilt and more plagues them. So the silence continues. A survivor justifies silence by convincing herself or himself that it is easier and better for everyone if they just don’t say anything. The survivor says, I can handle this (alone).
But how true is that? Just ask the women who after decades of silence finally came forward in the allegations against Bill Cosby or the men who came forward in the Penn State, Jerry Sandusky case or the many sexual abuse scandals in the religious community (Bishops Accountability , Protestant Abuse COGIC ). What did they have to profit from coming forward? The public would say money, five minutes of fame. But the public is so wrong. Many survivors who come forward don’t ask for monetary settlements. Or ask me. I kept silent for years until the last rape. What did I have to profit from coming forward? The man had nothing, nothing except AIDS! Many survivors just want the truth heard and accepted, the predator exposed and stopped from hurting another child or adult. What do they gain from coming forward? Freedom, justice in some cases and rest from the torment in their soul! Empowerment!
One morning three friends and I went to breakfast. During our meal one gentleman posed a question about the allegations against Bill Cosby. Why did he do that? As the conversation began among the three of them my hand became numb and my eyes began to water.