In a recent thread I raised the point that there are so many things that a young boy doesn't know - things that, if he had known them, might have enabled him to keep safe. My point was that if a boy doesn't know his options or rights, in what meaningful sense can we say he really has them? If he doesn't understand what's going on at the most basic level, how can he bear any responsibility for those actions?
I illustrated this by comparing our situation to that of someone who gets burned in a fire and then in the hospital someone asks, "Oh, why didn't you walk clear of the fire through the secret door?" If the victim didn't even know such a door existed, did he have the choice of using that door?
That comment provoked some positive comments, and that made me think, hey, let's talk about this. What "secret doors" did we have that might have saved us from abuse, but were never really available to us because we just didn't know they existed?
I think this could be important because we too often blame ourselves and feel ashamed for the abuse, asking such questions as "Why didn't I say no?", "Why didn't I tell?", "Why did I just let him do it?", and so on. When we think like this, however, we are talking about "secret doors" - things we can easily see now as mature adults or older teens, but which were unknown to us back when we were little.
Here are some of my secret doors: things I didn't have any clue about and could never have been responsible for knowing at the time I was abused. Add yours! Start out by saying "I didn't know" and then put whatever you want to finish the sentence. As the list grows we will see so clearly the huge difference between what we knew then and what we know now. We will learn how mistaken we are when we accept even the slightest responsibility for the abuse we suffered.
Our Secret Doors
1. I didn't know it was sex.
2. I didn't know someone I trusted would hurt me.
3. I didn't know I would be believed if I told.
4. I didn't know abusers are expert liars and know how to confuse kids.
5. I didn't know my body is private and belongs to me and me alone.
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me. (Woody Guthrie)