a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. People who know nothing about abuse, I would hope, would let me talk about it at my own pace. But the people I actually know, they are all arm-chair psychologists: People who think they know more than they actually do because of an occasional TV talk show or some pop culture anecdote. There's no talking with those people, because they are already sizing you up to see if you match what they think they know.
I want to be able to talk about my past and have the abuse be a given rather than something I have to defend against, even if I can't yet explain it. I want it to just be accepted as having happened, rather than people who accuse me of being delusional or dishonest. That is a lot easier to do with strangers than family members, who may feel they have a stake in proving their version of history. But it is also an issue with strangers because it is so easy to get the wrong idea. Just as the word "bully" is over-used and mis-used, the term "child abuse" can bring up very different images to very different people. And a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Those who have read some of the more popular accounts of extreme abuse (I'm thinking in particular of "A Child Called It") can minimize the experiences of people whose story doesn't live up to that level of dramatics.
I very much wish I could have more open conversations with people, not so much about my own experiences but how those experiences affect how I see the world and how the world affects me. But I don't know how to do that. How to put out that I am a survivor without people demanding details or (almost worse) assuming things about me they can't possibly know. Maybe there is no way to avoid that. Like I said, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
"As long as the child within is not allowed to become aware of what happened to him or her, a part of his or her emotional life will remain frozen . . . all appeals to love, solidarity, and compassion will be useless."
-- Alice Miller