Why We Don’t Talk About Abuse (Part 1)


When I asked my friend about her new boyfriend, she absolutely lit up. This was a good man, I could tell.

“It’s nice not wondering if he loves me.”

Hearing her say this made me light up too.  She’s right.  That is a very nice thing.  And I know it’s a first for her.

We spent some time commiserating over past abusive relationships and as we spoke, I found the timing a bit odd. Here we were, many years later, disclosing the nitty gritty details of our past experiences with abuse. At the time, however, there was no way I was going to tell anyone about the mistreatment I experienced.  I felt embarrassed and alone.  And I didn’t want to feel judged for staying with my ex for so long.

Another close friend of mine also disclosed past abuse to me, years after the fact.  Again, I found the timing odd, mostly because we both dated our abusers at the same time.  Yet while we were actually in those relationships, we never once talked about our abuse.  Sometimes I wonder what support we could have offered each other had one of us broached the subject.  I know in the back of my mind I always wondered if her relationship was okay — if she felt safe.  Something seemed off to me about her boyfriend, but I was too scared to ask her because I did not want to make her uncomfortable or mad.  So I never asked and she suffered in silence.

So many times I wanted to tell her how unhappy I was in my relationship.  The words would be right on my tongue, but they could never leave my mouth. Not until many years later after I healed and moved on was I able to “come clean” to her about my abuse. I suffered in silence too.

In part 2 of this series, I will explore some of the reasons why women in unhealthy relationships remain silent.  But for now, I would love to hear your thoughts: what has been your experience talking about abuse? 

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  1. says

    Have you seen Jenifer Hixson’s story from ‘The Moth’ on Youtube? I think it maybe hints at even if you knew someone else was being abused at the same time, there’s still some sort of distance imposed by judgment. Maybe this distance-caused-by-judgment is expandable to other problems, not just abuse? I’m not sure. ‘Just a thought.

    Here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vw4zv91DdE

  2. Regina Erickson says

    Thank you. I have experienced emotional abuse and because of my faith and the church I belong to sometimes feel like it seems “made up” or unreal. Due to the hurts, it’s difficult for me to trust and I sometimes – well, often – come across as unapproachable and angry. I am looking forward to Part 2.

    Regina @ http://www.freetobegigi.weebly.com

    • says

      Hi Regina! Thanks so much for sharing your experience. Coping with abuse is really hard. I’m sorry that you feel your faith community isn’t as supportive as you’d like. Please know you will always find support here and if you ever need to chat, I’m just an email away. You can find part 2 here: http://akirahrobinson.com/2013/06/26/why-we-dont-talk-about-abuse-part-2/. Also, please feel free to sign up for my mailing list to get support and inspiration sent straight to your inbox (the sign-up box is at the end of each post). Hang in there, friend.




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