Family Secret - Divulging Abuse From InsideAmong the hardest pieces of news a family can hear is from within. To discover that a member of your family, a close relative you've understood all your life, has mistreated another, is crushing. I know because I 've been on either side of that coin, both recieving the news and announcing it to my own relatives. For the PTSD sufferer it's one of the most courageous but most difficult steps towards recovery. By unveiling the secret, breaking the quiet and placing your soul and your experiences out in the open for those you love most to question and hopefully understand, you're curing. The choice to tell family members that you have PTSD - and perhaps more significantly, what the injury which caused it was - is one that many sufferers agonize around.
Imagine if they don’t believe me? I will create a rift in the family. I am upsetting the apple cart. So there’s no point causing all this heartbreak it’s in yesteryear -- these are only the beginnings of various trains of thought a sufferer is likely to go through when debating whether to ‘ tell not or ’. It's hard when the why does child abuse happen perpetrator isn't an associate of the family, a buddy, maybe, in the instance of of sexual abuse. But when the victim and the abuser share the same family, it becomes a whole lot more messy. Everyone knows what you as a survivor of abuse have been through, and once the naming and shaming of the abuser is out there, there’s no going back.
So, what if you’re the family member who’s just been sat in a front room, having made a pot of tea, only to have the get-together blasted into smithereens by your daughter, granddaughter, son, neice or nephew? They’ve not slept for weeks (PTSD plus the do-I, don’t-I argument), and now they’re silently sitting with the teacup still shaking on its saucer, anxiously anticipating your reply.
Engage your brain before you speak. Your emotions are high, you don’t know what to believe, and the image of the man who abused them and the individual before you has been shattered like glass on concrete. Blurting out “I don’t believe you cause them to doubt themselves and their recollections, maybe activate an emotional flashback, will ostricize the sufferer and make you the target of rage, frustration and damage. Perhaps you can’t reconcile the picture of the accused with the accusation, but that doesn't mean it didn’t happen. So, think before you do and speak n’t undermine the courage it took for the sufferer to tell you.
Second, please, don't go and begin a fight with the accused. It helps nobody, least of all the sufferer. Going over there and having it outside will result in everything being denied by the abuser, retaliating, perhaps attacking the original victim or yourself. If there is evidence that could be used in legal proceedings should they follow, the casualty has just lost it.
Remember that ‘outing’ an abuser is a very brave choice for the sufferer, and they'll be exhausted. A match of 20 questions isn't proper right now! To have been trusted enough to hear that they developed PTSD because of it and have suffered from abuse places you in a privileged position. Recall that, and try to refrain from asking about each detail of the maltreatment, the duration, if anyone else was involved, or the dreaded "why didn’t you tell us sooner?” Some of the responses won’t be clear to the sufferer (suggest: especially the last one), and some of them hurt too much to talk about. The time will come where you learn the facts of the injury and the impact on the sufferer’s life since. Now is n’t it.
Enough of the don't’s. What should you do? Listening is significant; being there and taking time to hear the sufferer is the best gift you can give them. Maybe the relief of having someone in the family understand will lead to an outpouring of emotion and despair. Be there for them, and allow them to know that you're available to speak with, if and when they need. Offer support and give them the safe space they'ven’t had to vent how they feel. On the flipside, the man with PTSD might completely freak out and not need to say another word. Listening is still significant, even in the quiet. Make the person you love feel safe and supported and free to speak, or not speak, not, or ask for help.
Do normal things with this individual. Having PTSD will not define them nor should it define your future relationship with them. Take them outside, invite them to meet-ups (without the abuser present) and appreciate them for who they are. As with tons of mental illnesses, sometimes socializing appears not easy, but if you get blown off or rejected, continue while also letting them know it is ok for them not to join encouraging them. Compassion and patience is the name of the game.
Additionally, look after yourself. Odds are the news has come as a jolt, and you're now fighting with conflicting emotions regarding the abuser, particularly if you are close to them and knew them. It truly is clear to be bewildered and upset, so take a bit of time to process the info. Frequently it is helpful to speak with someone you know, such as counsellor or a friend, about your feelings. Getting an outside perspective from someone who doesn’t understand the abuser or the PTSD sufferer can not be useless. It is easy to feel like anything you do or say will be wrong, but honestly, you understand the folks involved and how exactly to speak to them. Trust instinct and that knowledge.
I am only able to speak from personal experience, but hopefully there’s a nugget or two of advice in this piece to help you hear about the abuse than can occur within.