- How could she let him do that to her children?
- How did she not know what was happening under her own roof?
- I would have seen the signs.
- I would never have left my kids alone with someone like that.
- I have a good relationship with my kids, they tell me everything
- I wouldn’t let anyone treat me that way
- They’re just words, they can’t hurt you.
- Aren’t you over it yet?
- Why didn’t you say something sooner?
- He’s too nice to do something like that.
- Just let it go
- Did you abuse him too?
- Did you do something to deserve it?
- Are you sure you didn’t just dream it?
- You must be over-reacting
- Why didn’t you call the police?
For far too many men, women and children, when they reveal abuse they are not believed. They are labelled liars, exaggerators, abusers, accessories to the abuse, overly sensitive, stupid, mentally ill, psychotic and more.
How should we reply when someone reveals abuse to us? Be gracious. Believe them. Ask how you can help. Be a listening ear.
If it is a child, believe them! Take action to protect your child from the abuser, from further abuse. Report the abuse to the proper authorities, document what’s happening, what’s been revealed to you (record it if you can), and talk to a counselor, call the police. Do not confront the abuser. Be careful who you confide in until matters are under official investigation. Do not break their trust by telling people who do not need to know. Ask for permission to speak to others.
Comfort the victim of abuse. It is not their fault. They have done nothing wrong. They have exhibited great courage in revealing the abuse. It is not easy to speak up about abuse. Some victims reveal the abuse after one incident, others reveal after months or even years. No matter how long it takes, it is the ultimate expression of bravery.
All too often, if abuse is revealed after the first incident and the victim is not believed,
they may not reveal again, or not for a long time.
The abuser will tell the victim that no one will believe them; they will threaten to harm them, a loved one, or a pet if they tell anyone. If the abuser is a close family member or friend, there is also the realization that “everybody loves them” so how can I destroy their image for my family? A child does not have the ability to logically think through the damaging emotions of abuse. Any victim of abuse does not have the ability to logically through the damaging emotions of abuse.
There is an immense amount of manipulation and control excerpted by an abuser. An abuser will do, say and use anything and anyone to maintain control of their victim. What would not work for one person will work for another person, and the abuser knows this. An abuser is an excellent reader of human behavior. They find weakness and use it to break down their victim. They will use your affection, your trust, your guilt, your regret, your joys, your revelations. As you share your thoughts, feelings, past actions, they will remember, mark where your weaknesses are and used against you whenever they feel the need. This keeps the victim firmly within the grasp of the abuser. This makes it doubly hard to step free, to speak up.
Any victim who speaks up should be given support, encouragement, respect and belief.
Chose to stand against the abuser. Chose to believe the victim. You cannot support both.