There are different reasons for silence and these may not be the same for everyone but it always starts with the abuse.
Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) learn to be silent in childhood.
Their abuser may have told them to be silent.
They may have threatened them into silence.
They may have said they wouldn’t be believed.
They may have said nothing at all but the abused child’s instinct is to be loyal, to protect their family, even when they don’t understand what they’re protecting it from.
They may have dissociated during the abuse and have no memory of it.
“For many people, dissociation is a natural response to trauma that they can’t control. It could be a response to a one-off traumatic event or ongoing trauma and abuse.”mind.org.uk
For the child that does speak out – they may be met with disbelief.
They may sense your discomfort and shut down.
They may not have the ability to articulate it.
They may not have the language.
They may feel that there’s no point.
They may feel ashamed.
They may feel frightened.
They may have a strong bond with their abuser.
They might not realise that they’re being abused.
They may have normalised the abuse.
It might not occur to them to speak out.
Some adult survivors are unable to find their voice. How do you ask for help to speak when you’re silent about the thing you need to speak about?
Many will never disclose their abuse.
Many continue to live in this silent world.
When survivors find their voice, they are sometimes told they must be silent, to protect the family and it’s reputation. They may be told to forgive and forget. They may be accused of making up lies.
They may be accused of being mentally ill.
They may told that to make a choice; to stay silent or lose the family.
When the survivor decides they can’t remain silent, they see that it’s the perpetrator who is protected because there is often no evidence that he did anything at all because child sexual abuse is often only witnessed by the victim and the perpetrator. It comes down to one person’s word against another’s.
There are so many reasons for the silence.