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Why is it so hard for one to open up about an abusive past?

How to you summon the courage to share? What are the reasons that one may keep such terrible things locked inside? How does one overcome this fear of sharing?


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    May 23 2013: Haley Goranson touched on what I think is the core of why it is hard for people to open up about abuse, though I would add that the individual shame is matched by social judgement, as Don Anderson pointed out. All of us humans tend to be full of prejudices and rationalized judgements.

    Opening up to others requires vulnerability that can be taken advantage of. We come to realize this early on through the petty cruelties we inflict on each other in childhood, when teasing and bullying are common coping mechanisms. Unfortunately, as adults, many of us adopt a stance of exploiting the perceived weaknesses of those around us, whether friend, foe or indifferent. Such people can make the vulnerability required to share pain into a source of additional abuse. Avoiding such abuse is natural.

    Summoning the courage to share a hurtful experience can be a process of small steps, beginning with acknowledging the abuse personally, to one's self. The next, and possibly last, step might be to reveal the abuse and the emotions it stirs up to the most trusted, loving and compassionate person the abused knows. Although it may feel safer to make such a revelation to an unknown who has no personal investment, such an exchange tends to rob the abused of the potential for further acceptance, grace and empowerment by someone who is personally invested in the abused's well being. That's not to say it can't be helpful; but, rather that it might be less effective. [All of this blather is my personal opinion based on my own baggage, not any professional or intellectual grounds, of course.]

    It seems to me that if one can take a moment to say that the can heal then one can repeat that moment until it becomes a part of them. Just as we can become inured to pain and abuse, we can condition ourselves to feel worthy of more and better in our lives. Once we afford ourselves such compassion we can then extend it freely to others that they might benefit from it.
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      May 24 2013: I agree Johnathon, that opening up to others, requires vulnerability, so trust is a factor when discussing abuse. Most of the time, trust is compromised with abuse, so I believe that sometimes, before people are ready to speak about it, there has to be a certain amount of healing and restored trust in people. As you say, allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, can sometimes open ourselves to more abuse. That is why I think that trust has to be rebuilt to some extent before some folks are ready to talk about it.

      I also agree that taking small steps is important....test ourselves.....test those we might talk with....see how it feels. It is possible to begin revealing snippets of information, and if it does not feel good, we can stop the process, or change directions. (Your "blather", as you call it, is very insightful my friend).

      I agree that when we start with small steps with people that we trust, we can build on that until it becomes a "new" part of us.

      You've made a lot of good points, and one of the most important, in my perception, is compassion for ourselves. When people are abused, their/our emotions are often controled by the abuser....an external force. When we are healing, we often look for compassion externally as well, and just as we may have become dependant on the abuser for our emotions, we then may become dependant on someone else for compassion.....to help us heal.

      We may find people we can trust, who have compassion, and one of the healthiest things we can do, in my perception, is be compassionate with ourselves. It is important to strengthen ourselves so if we talk about our story, and some people are NOT compassionate, it doesn't matter. Make any sense?

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