Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown has revealed in his new book titled Against All Odds, that he was sexually abused at the age of seven and again at age ten. His abuser when he was ten was a camp counselor who threatened to kill him if he told anyone. He did not tell anyone then, including his mother, or later not even his wife. His wife found out when she read his book. Many people may find it unusual that he would not have reported such a thing. Unfortunately, the fact is that silence on the part of victims of sexual abuse is the norm.
There are various reasons why victims keep silent. Sometimes it is because of threats of physical harm, as in Brown’s case. Other times it is fear of public humiliation or that as the victim no one will believe you. I know of a case where a person did report and was then humiliated by family members and told to keep quiet about it. I only wish that person would have still sought someone else to tell until there was a receptive ear.
I can relate to this story by Scott Brown because a similar incident happened to me at age twelve. It was not an adult who abused me, but rather two older teens. They threatened to harm someone in my family if I told. They also threatened to “ruin me” by telling stories about me at school. They told me that I was “worthless” and continued that throughout the school year. It was obvious to me that they were telling “dirty stories” about me at school by the way they and their friends treated me and the vulgar notes I found in my locker. Through all of that I remained silent. I truly did feel worthless.
Sen. Brown indicated that a school teacher and coach took him under his wing and mentored him and that was what helped him to be strong enough to get through school. Amazingly, I too had the experience of a coach and teacher who took great interest in me and encouraged me. His support and guidance helped me to overcome at least temporarily, the burden I was carrying. I still never told my “dirty little secret.” I carried that secret until I was in my mid-fifties, until through a series of circumstances which I describe in detail in my book The Snare Is Broken [pictured on the left] I was forced to reveal it.
I concur with Sen. Brown that if you or someone you know has been sexually abused, you need to tell someone and perhaps seek counseling to finally put the situation to rest as much as possible. Also, we need to be sure that we instruct our children more vigorously about the issues of appropriate and inappropriate touch and the need to report anything that makes them feel uncomfortable as the result of physical touch by other children or adults.