When victims of abuse first tell their story, people often ask why they didn’t tell someone when it was happening. They figure it couldn’t have been so bad if they didn’t even tell anyone.
This thinking is incredibly faulty! Nothing could be further from the truth!
Abusers of all types have some things in common. One of those things is they love secrecy. They don’t want people to know what they are doing to their victim, so they threaten & scare their victims into silence.
Some abusers tell their victims things like, “If you tell anyone, I’ll kill your child/parents/sibling.” Others beat their victims upon finding out the victim told someone what the abuser has done. Narcissistic abusers usually aren’t so obvious with their intimidation, but they value secrecy nonetheless. When I was growing up, my mother used to scream at me when she thought I was “airing our dirty laundry” as she called talking about her abuse. She would shame me for needing to talk about things, like there was something incredibly wrong with me- everything she did was completely normal, I had no right to think otherwise or talk about her behind her back. I stopped talking. It wasn’t worth the screaming & berating.
Then sometimes if we tell, people either don’t believe us anyway or they think we’re exaggerating. When I was a teen & told some people about my mother, no one believed me. One school guidance counselor said “it didn’t sound so bad.” When my mother threw me into a wall, I went to my friend’s parents’ home to see if I could stay with them. Her father laughed at me. 26+ years later & I still don’t get the joke.
Reasons like this are why victims don’t tell someone when the abuse is happening. We’re terrified the abuser will follow through on their threats or hurt us in some way, or afraid no one will believe us. As painful as staying quiet about what’s happening is, it’s easier than facing the wrath of the abuser or apathy of someone we turn to for help.