Ask Ava

Ask Ava, Episode 83: "Why is it hard for some survivors of abuse to tell their stories?"

October 28, 2021 Ask Ava Season 1 Episode 83
Ask Ava
Ask Ava, Episode 83: "Why is it hard for some survivors of abuse to tell their stories?"
Show Notes Transcript

Episode 83: "Why is it hard for some survivors of abuse to tell their stories?"

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On today’s episode, we’re answering a question from local teens about why some survivors of abuse or assault choose not to share their stories with the world.

This is Jessica Skultety, Community Outreach Associate at Safe+Sound Somerset. We are Somerset County, New Jersey's lead domestic and sexual violence response organization, providing services to survivors at no charge for over 40 years.  

Today's question from local teens is: “Dear Ava, Why is it hard for some survivors of abuse to tell their stories?”

Every survivor of domestic, dating, and sexual abuse is different. So, their reasons for not telling their stories change. In the era of #metoo, where more people (especially women) are coming forward to say that they have been harassed, assaulted, or abused, there are others who have decided to stay silent.

Here are 8 reasons why survivors may not share their stories:

1.     It’s not safe. They might still be in a situation where someone is threatening themselves, their children, their family, their friends, or their exes. Plus, if this person has left an abusive relationship, exes can be abusive too, so they still might still feel unsafe.

2.     They might love the person who has harmed them. They don’t want to harm this person by telling the story.

3.     Survivors might feel that people still won’t believe them. Lots of people react to reports of abuse with victim-blaming statements like, “What were you wearing?” or “You should have known better and just left earlier,” or “It couldn’t have been that bad.” 

4.     They might feel hopelessness. Survivors of abuse may not think that telling their story will do anything.

5.     Survivors might feel shame, regret, sadness or anger, and don’t know how to or want to express that into words.

6.     Survivors might be traumatized, or they have healed from their trauma. Telling a story of abuse can re-traumatize people.

7.     Another important thing to remember is that new spreads fast in person and online, and once information is out there, people don’t have control over it. This could be another reason to stay silent.

8.     Finally, survivors are not responsible for telling their stories. They just might not want to. A lot of times, people, including family and friends, want proof that the abuse happened. Even if it’s a friend or family member, we don’t want to pressure anyone to share their story. Today’s society might have us believe that we have to be “fact finders” and know the details of what happened in order to believe someone, but that’s not our job. The time may come when fact finding is necessary, like if this person is looking for services to heal their trauma, get a restraining order, or going to court. But generally people don’t need to share their stories with the general public unless they want to.

If you are a survivor of abuse, remember that you don’t have to tell your story to the world. There is safety, help, and hope available, plus free services, if you are looking for help on your healing path. And we believe you. 

To speak with an expert about dating violence, call or text the Safe+Sound Somerset 24/7 confidential hotline at 866-685-1122 for supportive listening, information, and safety planning. 

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