February 27, 2018

How to Handle the Responses of Family & Friends After You Break the Silence

This week, we conclude our series with Patrick Bennett. He shares with us some of his experiences telling friends and family about the abuse and navigating their responses and behaviors that followed.

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OK so you have come forward about what was inflicted on you be that to the authorities or just your family and friends, you have gone through the worst of your therapies and are confident in your abilities to recognize and make use of the awesome power you have discovered within.

Life is good for you right now and you are moving on with your life, the life you have dreamed about for so long with all the freedom and aspirations of being just a normal human being. With this piece and all that in mind I don’t want to rain on your parade but I just want to share my experiences with you.

Let’s start with those closest to you, your family and loved ones. I began to notice that there was a huge difference in their behavior around me and it took me a while to figure out exactly what was going on with them. I would walk into a room and their conversation would change immediately and they would talk around subjects instead of open and honestly. They changed their attitude towards everything church and religiously oriented and they were blind to the fact that they were doing more harm than good.

Don’t get me wrong. I totally understand that every person is free to live their life as they wish, but they neglected to give thought to the fact that they were causing me huge feelings of guilt and shame. You see to me I was the only reason they did what they did and just like I said in an earlier piece "It was not the place that abused me, it was a person", and after many months of waiting for them to change while burying my increasing shame and guilt, I finally decided that I could not take anymore guilt and so I sat them down and finally addressed the elephant in the room.

It wasn’t easy by any means but by listening to their worries and fears and openly sharing my inner most thoughts and feelings we eventually got to a place where we both understood and respected the points we were at in accepting, respecting and moving on from what I had brought to light, and when I think about it now I have only one regret and that is that I didn’t address the issue earlier for everyone’s sake.

As for workmates and more importantly alleged friends, a lot of what I have already said applies to them too but with a huge warning to be ready for the sometimes crass remark or statement. Let’s face it, people are all different and what they deem innocent statements may be extremely hurtful to you and yes there may be times when you suffer a huge setback in your recovery process due to the careless comments of those you thought would know better.

Then of course there may be the person in your life that will say things to you or pass comments that are deliberately and deeply hurtful. How you deal with these people is totally up to you! Personally I suffered a couple of these encounters over the years and I will admit that at first I was very angry and hurt by the things I was forced to listen to and filled with this anger. I reacted very physically and vocally to these taunts, but overtime I began to realize that in fact the only person I was hurting was myself, that these people and their way of thinking were more to be pitied than anything else, and I felt sorry for them and their ignorance.

I really hope you will not have to worry about any of these examples as you move on with your life, but no matter what I urge you to always remain aware of the awesome power and strength you have not only in you but that you have shown to the world by coming forward and seeking justice for what you have had to endure. That you are an amazing person with your whole life in front of you and you can be or do anything and everything you put your mind to, provided of course that you yourself have to the best of your ability left your past exactly where it belongs, in the past, and that you accept that we cannot change either what has happened or what other people think or do if you yourself are not the very best you can be. You are a Survivor!!!

Stay safe and well,

Patrick 



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"The ruthless honesty of Mr. Bennett means that this is not a story with a sentimental and unambiguously happy ending. He is still on a journey that is sometimes difficult and painful, but he has shown remarkable courage, integrity and honesty and done the community a service by writing this extraordinary and valuable book."

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