Thanks for the insights, Suwanee and Cee. I am sorry others also have this dilemma and also slightly surprised; for some reason I just got the idea that once people start telling it becomes "on the table" because you're not supposed to be ashamed anymore. But I'm not ashamed talking about sex stuff (consensual or SA) with my wife & therapist - and it feels wrong, dirty, to put the image inside my parents heads.
I mean - once I say I was molested I'd gave to say what it WAS, because they'd assume everything and envision every nightmare for the little boy they remember. So I'd have to spare them something by basically saying "no no, it wasn't anal, it was oral and hands." And that's no better because then your mom and dad see their little mental image boy forced to blow a dirty old man in a bathroom. Their imagination would be horrible but the truth would just tell them how to have the nightmares. And to what end? The SOL expired ages ago and the guy was like 70 in 1986 anyway.
FWIW, I never told because:
-The memories were disassociated and my 8yo self thought maybe I'd just seen it and not had it happen to me.
-I remembered the physical contact (and have remembered more since my recent breakdown and commencing therapy - lucky me) but did NOT remember either how the guy got me or what happened after. That meant in my mind there was no "trap" and no "secret/threat", which made it not match any of the warnings I'd heard. There would be some story - a lost dog, candy, a magic trick whatever - and then after they'd say you can never ever tell or else X. Without those matching my warnings I was confused.
-I wasn't even sure it was real until I was like 11 and learned what pubic hair was and that it could be gray. Then I was like "well you can't make up something you didnt know existed" - but by that time I was out of that school, seemed to be having a normal life, and had enough to worry about as a pre-teen
But by far, most of all, I never told because there was an extremely famous pedophile incident in my hometown. It messed up a lot of kids. One if the peeps was dating a member of my family - so there was triple-barreled heartbreak and horror over the subject. That family member cried and screamed so horribly I thought she had been stabbed to death and I begged my parents to open the door and let me see her if she was dying, but they wouldn't let me in, the kid brother, so I had to wait confused crying worried sick as I seriously thought she must be dying in there and what could possibly be so bad? And both of my parents were crying too. Mom cornered me and in a frankly borderline violent manner she immobilized me and demanded I tell immediately if those perps had ever gotten me. Shaking me to make me "pay attention!" like i was a bad kid who didnt pay attention. When I truthfully said nothing had happened she did not believe me, became even more hysterical and just about lifted me off the ground by my face and ordered me to tell the truth - I swore I was and when she finally believed me she broke down hysterical crying and I had to comfort and rock her! The ongoing shock and shame lingered in my family - the one who had been dating a perp was just in wretched shape for so long, it was something that Could Not Be Discussed. That CSA was so evil that even when it DIDNT happen to you it would make your whole family cry and scream and ashamed and turn normally nice parents unrecognizable scary and off their rockers. Oh, and these perps did get a friend of mine - did horrible things to him and made porn of him, and his parents were friends with my parents so they'd all sigh and moan over his fate together. And it pretty much did ruin his life.
So, uh, there's that too. And if they asked why I never told, and they heard even a gentler version of that....
"Don't think it hasn't been a little slice of heaven just because it hasn't!" --Bugs Bunny