Yesterday while listening to a story on the radio (more on that in a minute) I felt rage at my abuser (older cousin) for the first time. I wanted to do him serious physical harm and felt rage surging for several minutes. I also learned why this feeling is blocked. I am still protecting my mother from knowing about the abuse by her brother's kids.
I was listening to a story on this week's "This American Life," which runs on public radio. There was a twenty-three minute survivor story, the longest segment on a show called "Slow to React." It was called Act 1: "When I grow up." It played yesterday and will reply today on many public radio stations. After Sunday night you can download an MP3 or get it as a podcast. The show has a website (thisamericanlife.org).
Anyway the guy on the radio was thinking seriously about confronting his perp (an older teenage friend of the family who raped him when he was seven)and doing him harm. He was held back because he didn't want his family to learn about his abuse. Then in the radio story his parents learned and he didn't need to keep the secret anymore.
As soon as the story reached that point I felt serious rage at my cousin sweeping over me, as if I didn't need to protect my family anymore.
I often wondered why I didn't feel anger at my cousins. Intellectually, I could have told you I was protecting my mother and didn't want to get involved with all this family stuff. I have distanced myself for years, without cutting off ties. This was different. It went deeper.
My father was the one who came to get me after I was raped and the only one who knew about it. He told me two things at that point.1) Never tell anyone: it will ruin your life. 2) You can't tell your mother: it will destroy her.
I tossed out command number one some time ago. I am still obeying command number two. (Background: my mother was/is bipolar. She was in the hospital when I was raped.) I guess I still believe that my mother can't handle this and it won't do any good to tell an eighty-six year old this now.
I now know my cousins will hear from me when I don't have to protect my mother anymore. I have no interest in protecting them.
I also recommend you check out this week's "This American Life." This is a big deal for male survivors. OK not Oprah, but still big.