Men in My Town

Why Didn’t They Disclose?

Posted in Men in My Town by Keith Smith on November 13, 2017

With the media reporting stories of sexual abuse victims coming forward with claims of previous abuse committed as long as 40 years ago, the question is being raised by some, “Why didn’t they disclose when it happened and why are they disclosing now?”

Let me share with you what I’ve learned over the years in speaking publicly about my own experience as a survivor of a stranger abduction rape.

Sexually abused children and adult survivors of sexual abuse often remain silent out of misplaced guilt, fear, shame, embarrassment and under threat of violence from their perpetrators, threats of violence directed at the child, their friends, their family and even their pets.

In time, some victims of childhood sexual abuse get the strength to come forward, the strength to speak out, the strength to face the demons that haunt them and the perpetrator of their abuse, while many remain silent, living with the debilitating, destructive side effects forever, never disclosing their abuse to anyone.

The personal and societal side effects of childhood sexual abuse are daunting. Children who are victims of sexual abuse often resort to inappropriate behaviors to cope as they suffer through physical, emotional, behavioral and social problems directly related to their abuse. Some turn to drugs and alcohol, drop out of school, run away from home, suffer from eating disorders, sleeping disorders, personality disorders, stress, anxiety, depression, disassociation, post-traumatic stress syndrome and life threatening sexually transmitted disease.

Some children have difficulty forming trusting relationships, resort to physical violence, sexual promiscuity and inappropriate and sometimes criminal sexually reactive behavior. Some resort to cutting, self-mutilation and in the most extreme cases they’ve murdered their abuser while others contemplate, attempt or commit suicide.

Directly attributable to their sexual abuse, victims often suffer these enduring problems throughout their adolescence and into adulthood, many suffering through decades of silence, never disclosing their abuse.

Disclosing a sexual assault at any time, 20, 30, even 40 years after the fact, doesn’t make the abuse any less real, any less traumatic, any less violating, any less horrific, any less criminal.

We need to credit victims for having the strength and courage to come forward and disclose the abuse they suffered no matter how recent or long ago in the past.

As more victims come forward with their public disclosure of past abuse we need to understand why many victims choose to suffer in silence.

I hope in some small way my explanation helps all of us recognize the strength and courage it takes for victims to finally go public and begin their transition from sexual abuse victim to survivor.

RAINN Survivor Series Video – Keith Smith, Stranger Abduction Rape Survivor

Posted in Men in My Town by Keith Smith on March 29, 2016