When victims decide to go public with their story of abuse, people can be quick to question their motivations, especially if the accused is a powerful person.
However, the number of motivations for never telling that victims have to overcome are often unknown. Here are 12:
1. Victims might remain silent if they believe the credibility of their story will be called into question. If the story threatens the identity, power, or position of a well-known and loved individual, then many might discredit victims to protect the more powerful individual.
2. Victims might feel they have a responsibility to remain loyal. Revealing information about an abusive person might cause others to blame victims for betraying that loyalty. Victims are then manipulated into feeling their actions brought unnecessary harm to another.
3. Victims are often close to their abuser. The abuser might be a family member, boss, or friend. Therefore, victims might care for the well-being of the abuser and might feel a need to protect. They also know many will suggest they lack compassion, mercy, forgiveness, or love.
4. In contexts where the accused is considered important to a religious belief system or cause, victim’s might be condemned for bringing public shame upon the community by giving a reason for outsiders to look upon the people and their beliefs with disdain and suspicion.
5. Fear of being blamed can easily outweigh any motivation to tell. Many victims have tragically been made to believe their abuse was self-inflicted, either through their attire, attractiveness, assertive personality, or simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
6. Telling a story of abuse requires tremendous courage and vulnerability because it is impossible to know how others will respond. Some distance themselves because they lack emotional maturity. Others make victims feel ashamed for their involvement with the abuser.
7. If the abuse took place years ago, victims might believe they will be condemned for not coming forward sooner. When people ask, “Why did it take so long for this to be told?” they are suggesting the victim is somehow at fault for not reporting the abuse or has a hidden agenda.
8. Victims almost always suffer relational loss after their story is made known. Friends and family may abandon them over what they perceive as a betrayal. In some cases, victims have had to relocate to another school, church, or community to escape harassment.
9. Victims are sometimes threatened with lawsuits after they go public with their story. Some have been told that they will be “destroyed” if they blow the whistle. For good reasons then, victims fear losing their jobs, facing legal expenses, and ruining future job opportunities.
10. Victims risk losing their reputation if they go public, especially if the accused is a powerful person. The abuser can easily use that power to spread a narrative in which victims are made to appear vindictive, selfish, confused, mentally ill, bitter, or in need of attention.
11. Victims are sometimes intimidated with threats against their safety. The fear of further abuse is a strong (and sometimes necessary) deterrent to exposing the abuser. Victims who want to tell their story might know that great effort will have to go into protecting themselves.
12. Some victims face condemnation for not following procedures designed to keep matters internal. People condemn the exposure, expecting victims to continue appealing to the wolves from inside the den of the wolves if it means keeping the world from any knowledge of the wolves.
Usually there are multiple motivations that exist for never telling, causing stress and despair. Victims begin believing that telling others will never accomplish anything due to these barriers. Some victims retract their story after meeting these powerful silencing influences.
False accusations are rare. Choosing to expose an abuser, especially one with power, carries tremendous risk.
Nevertheless, we tend to be quick to question the motivations of victims and we are not so quick to consider the many strong motivations that exist for never telling.
The content in this thread can also be viewed in this Medium post: https://medium.com/@wademullen/12-motivations-victims-of-abuse-might-have-for-not-telling-their-story-cfcc097eef83 …