Kathy O’Connell, Co-Founder
Yes, I was a victim of abuse, in the home and later on in the Church. And now I can call myself a survivor, though my story, tucked so deep in my heart, belongs to me alone. Survivors share many experiences, but, like every survivor’s story, mine is unique and part of my life. And hard to share.
I’ve shared my story with several others, who willingly listened compassionately and understood. I didn’t expect them to fix my experience, just to respect and care about me. I was very grateful and thought, just by sharing, somehow, I’d be free from the secret and the hidden pain. However, it wasn’t that easy. Yet, sharing did help.
Then, I shared my story with my husband, who was far less able to be compassionate than the others who listened to this story of mine. The one person I thought would understand, did not. This causes me anguish and pain. It feels like my story is unimportant to him, and also embarrassing for him. This leaves me feeling more, not less shame.
I feel alone again with my story. Though I have others to help me carry the burden, my husband is a very important part of my life. He doesn’t want me talking about it with anyone. He wants it to remain secret, but he doesn’t understand what keeping that secret has done to me all these years.
So, there is a new wound. I haven’t been able to move forward as freely to heal this open wound. It’s hard to know what to do.
Sometimes, I want to share my story with others. Other survivors encourage me to share with those who understand. I watch their lives. It helps them find a kind of freedom. Sharing, I know, can help me feel free of the secret, but then I feel torn. It tears at my heart that my husband doesn’t support my sharing, and opposes it strongly. It’s a tough situation to be in.
However, with this tough situation, I know I’m not alone, because I have a support group who totally is there for me with love, compassion and support. I thank God everyday for them. And, I ask God to heal my husband’s pain now, as well as my own. I can see he is hurting from knowing. He has shared the pain in his way already. I had my pace and way to move forward, as he does.
It’s important to remember that survivors’ family members join the wounded when the secret of abuse is broken and we move toward healing.