July 13, 2016

Believe Them & Love Them. Love Them & Believe Them.

I recently did a Q&A format talk in front of a group of business people to share about Speak Your Silence. There was no pitch. It was simply me sitting down, having a conversation about the story behind SYS, what we do, and where we’re headed.

I was being interviewed by a friend, but she didn’t tell me beforehand what we were going to talk about because we didn’t want the talk to feel scripted.

I did, however, get fair warning on one question that I obviously couldn’t answer on my own. The question: What advice would your parents give to this group, if any of them are to ever learn that one of their kids has gone through something similar to what you went through (being sexual abused)?

So, prior to that evening, I gave my mom a call and said, “Is dad around? No? Okay, then I have a question for you…”

I told her the premise of the question and these were the first two things she said: 1) You love and listen to your child. 2) You believe what your child tells you.

I thought those were pretty solid pieces of advice.

So, then I called my dad. Without hesitation, his two pieces of advice: 1) You believe your child. 2) You love your child.

I thought it was pretty profound that my parents hadn’t consulted with each other, I presented them with a question I’ve never asked them… and they both gave me the same answers, just in reverse order.

Love your child and believe your child. Believe your child and love your child.

I’m not surprised by this. My parents are pretty great and this is exactly what they did when I finally shared my story with them – they believed me and they loved me.

It’s amazing to me how often I hear the opposite, though.

We receive a lot of applications for our counseling program, and so many applicants tell us that at some point in their lives, they shared their stories with someone they trusted– their mom, their dad, grandma, family friend. But, rather than being believed and loved, these kids were told things like, “No, she would never do such a thing,” and “He keeps food on the table and a roof over our heads, and if you tell anyone, we could lose everything,” and “Get over it.”

There are so, so many stories, and each one is unique. But, this is a sampling of the things I read and hear that are always so frustrating and sad.

Among the many messages delivered to a young heart by statements like these, I imagine the most damaging message is: “You’re not worth defending.”

Last night I heard from a loving mom who’s kids were sexually abused by their dad, this woman’s husband. She took the unbelievably tough – but right – step of reporting her own husband to police and protecting her kids from further abuse.

That’s an awful circumstance to be in. All I can do is imagine. But, I can’t help but believe that those kids are going to grow up knowing that they’re loved, they’re believed, and they’re worth defending.

Believe them and love them. Love them and believe them.

-Matt

If you were sexually abused as a kid, we’d be honored to help you get in to see a counselor.  It’s so worth it.  You can apply here.

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