The Invisible Survivor and What You Can Do

While the poor, homeless and starving are important too, I am very saddened by the lack of acknowledgment incest survivors get.

So many of us ‘save the world’ types spend most of our time and energy into saving everyone but those who are the most ignored in our culture: incest survivors. The incest survivor is invisible. Tucked neatly away under the collective rug of the world. Our culture has more of a tendency to sympathize with poor people all the while saying “get over it” to those who have been sexually violated since they were a toddler or a baby. We cannot even tell our parents (the ones who were supposed to protect us) and if we do tell them, we are shamed, punished, and not believed. Incest victims have it the worst because of that. Does a homeless person need to convince you that they are homeless? At least with poor people, we see them and know right away — whether we help them or not, at least they are SEEN. Yes, the poor are ignored, spat on, told to get a job, and ignored by by majority of us too. We are too precious to get our hands dirty to help them. Yes, we as a collective hate the poor too. And we’re more likely to be slacktivists than ACTUAL activists. I understand this very well.

The incest victim children live under a different bridge. They are society’s UNseen. They live in fear and shame their whole lives without anyone noticing. How do we justify having created a world for them to feel too scared and ashamed to tell ANYONE… that we created a world where the most suffering have ***NO VOICE AT ALL*** And worse than that? Ignored by all the missionaries, saviors and philanthropists and social justice warriors. At least the philanthropists get to the needy. But the incested?

Completely ignored.

Incest survivors may be dressed well, have a smile on their face, have a nice home and nice car in a nice clean city with a nice job and a fancy diploma, but deep down they are DYING. Underneath their smiles, they are screaming. They are forced by our culture to wear a facade because people like you and I tell them to “move on already” or “someone else has it worse”. Survivors know they can’t tell anyone due to the amount of insensitive replies they know they will receive. People don’t like being lectured. They just want to be supported, validated, known, seen and heard.

The “just be happy” brigade are partly responsible for our suicide culture and for our addiction culture since we aren’t allowed an outlet. The majority of people who kill themselves and succumb to addictive behavior, feel alone in their pain. And even more alone when told to “just be positive” or to “move on”. Pedophiles, on the other hand, get much more respect. Our culture, believe it or not, wants us to understand them more and see them as humans who “just have a different way of loving children”.

Marilyn Van Derbur has been the first courageous and real savior to ever step foot on this terrain and the whole latter part of her life has been devoted to insest victims who NEVER HAD A VOICE before her arrival. Marilyn is 80 years old right now and she’s still helping victims! She has set up the Survivor United Network (S.U.N) to get help for victims, she has given lectures all over the states more than anybody else has and spends 4-5 hours a day answering emails from victims and some email her several times a day. She is helping them, validating them, listening to them, supporting them, and giving the love to them they could never get from “a friend”. If you read her book “Miss America By Day” you will learn the great sacrifice she made and how she had lost several friends trying to help incest victims. It is not cool to help incest survivors. People will judge you and/or distance themselves from you. Even I scared a friend away over my own activism due to a page I had made to help survivors feel less alone.

If you donate and take care of the starving and homeless, people will love you and you’re held to the highest esteem. If you humanize sexual criminals, you will be honored and celebrated for being “Jesus-like”. If you, however, do your part to help incest survivors feel validated, you are looked down on, questioned, ignored, or shamed. There is no glory in that form of help.

Do you see what I mean by the imbalance here? It’s like choosing to only help the physically disabled as you can see them in their wheelchair, but ignoring, belittling and shaming those who have invisible diseases such as Cushings, Lupus, or Addisons.

Roughly, ninety-six percent of sexual misconduct takes place in the home with family and friends. If the truth were known, we’d begin to understand the depth of the struggles and suffering.
These kids who have been sexually violated all their lives dissociate from the event and in some cases, the trauma gets repressed or partially repressed. As they get more settled in their lives in their 30’s, 40’s or 50’s, a lot of the times, the memories begin to surface and their life falls on its head and these people might go insane or resort to addictions or self-harm as all those repressed feelings come alive that were buried from childhood. In a safe, supportive and loving environment, the survivor will begin their recovery (since the child couldn’t) and it can take a few months to a few years to get through the flashbacks (physical, visual, emotional), the involuntary relivings, the memories, the feelings, everything. The soul craves to heal from trauma and when we are ready, we’ll be forced to face it all head-on if we have a solid support system. What disturbs me is that we are more respected for putting a blanket on a cold person living in a box than being there for a friend while they process these horrific memories.

The philanthropist will over and over again tell people to smile, to be happy, to live their life, to be positive and feel only pretty and nice feelings and they’ll get an applause.

What we REALLY need to be told is ….

“It’s OK to cry”
“It’s OK, let it all out.”
“I’m right here.”
“Shout as loud as you like”
“I will go through this will you”
“Call me anytime”
“I won’t leave your side”
“It’s OK to feel hatred”
“It’s OK to feel that way”
“It’s OK to fantasize about revenge”

As a collective, we need to evolve past this “get on with your life” cowboy logic. We are not saving the world by telling people to feign happiness, love and light. That’s what’s holding the world back— especially for survivors because this forces them to shut down and repress their feelings even harder. .. The belittled will either externalize their pain and hurt others as they have been hurt or internalize it and harm themselves with addictions, disease, mental illness and suicide.

IF we are TRULY positive, IF we are really here to help, our help will be INDISCRIMINATE. We will not belittle. Hugging one victim and telling another kind of victim that their pain isn’t important is not philanthropy. Suffering is not about how much money a victim has or doesn’t have. Suffering is suffering and it’s part of the human condition.

Bottom line: We are all suffering and we all need each other.

“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty.” –Mother Teresa

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