Sexual Abuse in the News

Listening to everyone talk about the notorious Penn State abuse opens old wounds, especially the idea that there's no one to tell.  I lived for a time with a crazy, violently abusive babysitter (and also weird snapshot and body memories of my first step-father that make me nauseous and scared), and, as the people on radio are talking about, I had no one to tell.  This whole issue of talking outside of school - whether it's family, a caretaker, a coach,'s so debilitating, the silencing of children - it's almost worse than the violence or violation itself.

And when you grow up, you think: I can't say anything about anything or even worse: it must have been my fault because I didn't say anything and a horrendous distrust of your own reality.

Listening to the woman now on NYC who was abused by a caregiver when her parents were not available for various reasons rings so true for me and it makes me ill.  She's talking about her father said you don't talk about things outside of this house, we have to protect your mom.  And I remember that and it's been a life's work moving outside of the silence.

The issue of controlling the child is so key.  Because I have so little time to write tonight, I'm writing while listening to this report and it's kind of making me ill.

All I can say is: it's not fair to expect a child to talk about abuse if they don't have the language or anyone safe to talk to about it.

 There is a lot of other stuff I'd like to talk about tonight, good things happening in my present, but it's hard to segue here, so I will leave it at this.

 And please, anyone out there who is protecting an abuser: please stop.  And if a child talks to you, please listen.  And if you find out a child has been abused, DO NOT ask them: why didn't you tell me?  You will be scarring them for life, making them believe it's their fault.  Please just listen, be there and tell that child she or he can trust him or herself and apologize for not being or seeming trustworthy enough for whatever reason.

Trust me, I know.

Be safe, be well and do your best to protect and love those more vulnerable than you.


Julia Lee Barclay, PhD


(this is re-posted from my blog

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