A Few Words on the Institution of Family
Just a loving reminder to all the survivours out there as we head into the Thanksgiving holidays...
If you are a survivor of sexual abuse or any other form of abuse at the hands of a family member, your journey in life whilst bound to your family will be far more intense than it will be for survivors of non-familial abuse. I say this because the burdens of a dysfunctional family, which you have inherited through birth, along with unrealistic responsibilities, will undoubtedly fall into your hands. When there is conflict stemming directly from the abuse or from your abuser, it will become your responsibility to resolve the situation. When there is division in the family because you have attempted to create boundaries for yourself, it will become your responsibility to keep the family from falling apart. And if that isn’t enough, since you will be known as the agitator for speaking your mind, the responsibility of having unity in your family and changing things to “how it used to be” will also fall on your shoulders even though “how it used to be” was, is and most likely will still be…abusive.
Some will argue that because it’s your family, you have a moral obligation to stick together "no matter what" and tireless efforts should be made so circumstances can change for the better. But ask yourself the following questions:
Should the same vigorous effort be expected of you to maintain a relationship with the person who has assaulted or raped you in an alley? Moreover, is it expected of you to return back to that alleyway, which is your crime scene, to maintain a relationship with your attacker and establish future memories? And if that was to be your reality, what possible effects can that have on your psyche?
Family should be made up of individuals who offer you fierce loyalty and treat you compassionately, with affection and respect.
No one can possibly understand what the experience of abuse and betrayal from your family has been like for you, but you. Loved ones with the best of intentions may feel they have valid opinions on what you should do, but ultimately, that’s all they have…opinions. They will never have the experience you do…especially YOUR experience in THIS situation. And in times like this, when experience matters…no one has a right to question yours!
It's not selfish. Put yourself and your well being first.