Bringing Abuse out of the Closet
It is still in there because of the word honor. I was listening to some friends talk about the concept of honor the other night and it got me thinking. Most of us still come from families where our parents and grandparents expect us to contribute to the task of guarding the family’s honor. We aren’t supposed to do anything to hurt the family name, or to disgrace our elders. When I thought about it for a minute I figured out how truly sick that concept is, and yet most of us accept it without question, because that is how it has been since the day that we were born.
We sacrifice ourselves to this so-called myth of family honor. Behind this guise, we hide ugly divorces, alcoholism and drug abuse, bastard children, our relatives who happen to love within the same gender, and yes; abuse...lots and lots of abuse. For the sake of this utopic idea of a perfect family with the perfect reputation, we often pretend to be individuals that we are not, hide our own sexuality, take on careers that we do not like, and sometimes even marry people that we do not love. Even worse, for the sake of the family name, we hide abuse, and hiding abuse it the number one thing that keeps abuse going; generation, after generation, after generation. I say the hell with the family name. I don’t give a crap about any stupid reputation, when defaming that reputation could mean a healthier life for myself and for my children.
“I have abuse in my family.” I think that most of us all have it somewhere; families are pretty large after all. I think that we would make leaps and bounds in ending the cycle of abuse in our culture if we could all just say the words out loud. It is not easy, it isn’t easy to write them either. Take a deep breath and try it. “I have abuse in my family.” We are so trained that it is absolutely taboo to say the words, it becomes physically difficult to get them out, or so I find. Hiding things does not ever do anyone any good. I believe this strongly. We make up justifiable reasons to keep horrible secrets quiet, like keeping peace between relatives, or not giving grandma a heart attack, but there is honestly no true justification for not getting it out in the open. I actually listened to a radio personality about a year ago, advising a caller not to tell her cousin that her daughter has been raped by her cousin’s son. The boy was around fifteen, and the girl around thirteen. I was livid that someone would give such terrible advice. If young sex offenders do not get serious treatment very early, they become adult sex offenders. Adult sex offenders are nearly, if not impossible to reform.
Abuse comes in many shapes and sizes. Sometimes it is visible and sometimes it is not. If you are observant however, you can always see the results of it throughout the generations. That is where I see it in my family, and if I look closely it is very clear and very sad. It is everywhere and no family is exempt. Little boys are abused just as often as little girls, and if the abuse is sexual the psychological damage can be much worse because help and empathy are so hard to find. I have a friend who was sexually abused by her father throughout her childhood. He was a pastor. Abuse can be found anywhere. Even the effects of emotional abuse are often underestimated in their severity. I know adults who have suffered such extreme emotional abuse at the hands of their parents, they would probably tell you that they would have rather been hit as children than struggle through the venom that their parents rained down on them day after day.
I believe that as a society we are getting better and better all of the time. We are finally living in a generation where people are starting to talk about abuse. We need to keep the ball rolling. Abuse is a dark ugly beast that exists best in closeted darkness. All that we truly need to do to eradicate it completely is to drag it out into the sunlight and watch it die.