I can’t tell you how frequently, because sadly I’ve lost track of the number of times a fellow survivor of childhood sexual abuse has told me someone in their life said to them, “why can’t you just get over it?”
Someone commented the other day in one of the online support groups that I belong, “sometimes the feel of this group is to be passed the past. I am simply not. My one on one therapy has been shit. I don’t feel I have gotten any better. If I post some bad things or things I feel I don’t know it’s like I fail. It is not you, it’s me :(”
So I replied – “please know you are not alone with the feelings you’re having. Many of us, including myself, wonder when things will “get better”. In group this week we even talked about how we didn’t understand why, after going through so much therapy why we would still have the past come back and bite us in the butt. We even have members of our family or friends say, why don’t you just get over it? The thing is, we never “get over” what we have been through. The best we can hope for is to “work through it” and to heal. And so together, helping one another with what has helped each of us, we try to do just that. Combine our cumulative learning and coping skills to better handle “it” when it rears it’s ugly head. I guess I’m just trying to say, we’re here for you, I’m here for you and you’re not alone.”
What’s really sad to me is when people in our lives, people we care about and love utter those words, “get over it.” It’s as if they think we’ve been in a car wreck or had a bad cold. How they can be so insensitive to spew such verbal poison is beyond the pale.
I know, and thankfully so, they can’t possibly comprehend the hell and torture we’ve been through. But to lack even the slightest amount of decency or courtesy boggles the mind. Even more baffling is when it comes from a “professional” or someone who HAS been sexually abused. In those situations it’s clear they have not faced their own demons and so to make themselves look or feel better, they say words that cut to the bone and do more damage. It’s that type of thought and speech that causes survivors of abuse to either stop talking or further bury emotions and the trauma that they desperately need to work through. And now, because someone has said what they have, the healing process is delayed, derailed or denied altogether.
I remember being told as a youngster, if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all. Well here’s my message to all those who tell us to get over it…
…shut your pie hole! You have no clue what you’re talking about and you’re hurting more than helping so do everyone a favor and keep your mouth shut!
Can you tell I’m a little aggravated about this issue?
And to all of my fellow survivors, please hear me when I say this…pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, and the dingbats who would say such words. They don’t know what we’ve been through. Keep doing what you’re doing by working with your therapist, attending group therapy and relying on the support, guidance and comfort of those who care enough about you to say positive affirmations. We CAN heal and we CAN do it together.
Healing and recovery from childhood sexual abuse is challenging enough as it is. If someone is not a part of your healing, disregard them. And cling tightly to those who show you true love, empathy and support.
I had a fellow survivor give me the perfect example of the struggle we face. They told me of a relative who had a permanent physical disability and how comforting the family was toward them. And yet, when it came to their own pain from sexual abuse, this same family was completely indifferent.
Just because people can’t “see” our injuries doesn’t make them any less real. Simply because someone doesn’t have the capacity to look inside our hearts and souls, doesn’t make the pain we feel any less severe. Instead of assuming we’re ok, how about taking the time to really listen to what we’re saying. In doing so, you might just be the one who helps someone in pain beyond what you could ever imagine or bare. You could be the one that makes all the difference in the world.
As I was writing this I thought of something to say the next time I hear those words…I’ll ask them, would you tell me to “get over it” if I had cancer or heart disease? Of course not because that would be ridiculous. Well, what we are going through is like a cancer of our minds and disease of our hearts. If we don’t address it in a healthy way it tears us apart from the inside out.
So please, be careful what you say to those in pain, to those who have been utterly devastated as children to the point it affects us adversely as adults. We need to be loved and supported, not dismissed with hateful words. And be thankful it didn’t happen to you and pray it doesn’t happen to your children. I bet you wouldn’t tell them to…get over it…
Copyright © 2014 Together We Heal, Inc.
April 23, 2014 at 7:18 am
Excellent and timely post David. Family members do have a lot to say about matters that didn’t affect them. Unfortunately even those that were affected by family childhood abuse, even say to this day..”Mom just get over it and move on..like I did..I’m not stuck where you are. ”
I can’t tell you how many countless times I have been hurt, and betrayed by family …yet I attempt to continue trying to lay a better foundation, and bu=ilding blocks for improved relationships with those mentioned.
Just recently I have been told by one DAUGHTER, SON-IN-LAW..THAT I am “not safe” all of a sudden to have 3 of our grandkids spend time with us.
April 23, 2014 at 7:30 am
I hear you marie. That’s why i felt the call to write this article. I felt like fellow survivors needed to know they weren’t alone in this. And you’re not alone. I’m with you
April 23, 2014 at 9:41 am
Yes– hearing these comments from our family and friends is so hurtful. I have given up trying to make /help them understand. I am tired of trying to justify my feelings,thoughts and actions– actually it makes me feel worse at times. I try instead to continue to focus on self care and nurturing…finally learning what I NEED, ,listening to my body, and finding support with other survivors.However it is a lifelong struggle..I have accepted that. I can change how I think about my past..I can change how I allow my past to affect my present..I can “forgive” myself and possibly my abusers to an extent…but…I cannot get back what I feel I am missing. ..that hole inside me right next to my heart. Now heres the thing–no one can see that. No one sees that raw gaping wound that I believe once held my soul..
I have a cousin who lost his arm up to the shoulder in a horrific car accident 20 yrs ago…he has learned how to adapt..in fact has done incredible things without it and inspired others…but he has his issues and his struggles..no one tells him to get over it…because they can “see his pain”.In fact because they can see his wound that are in awe of his strength and courage.
We as survivors are definitely quite alone in our journey which is why finding support with other survivors is crucial. I have been in a support group of some kind for CSA for over 20 years and a great deal of my healing has come from my peers..I am in awe of your strength and courage and I am right there with you.
April 23, 2014 at 1:39 pm
Hey Suzanne, you gave the perfect analogy. Folks don’t seem to have any problems with an injury but since they can’t “see” our injury they dismiss it. Please know here you will never be dismissed or out off. Here you are welcomed and supported. Always.
April 23, 2014 at 1:39 pm
May I use the example you shared in the future to help others?
April 23, 2014 at 3:25 pm
April 23, 2014 at 3:47 pm
Thank you! 🙂
April 23, 2014 at 10:09 am
Reblogged this on Little Girl In The Rain and commented:
Great post by an amazing organization – must read for anyone who’s struggled with “just getting over it”!
April 23, 2014 at 11:09 am
Let’s not forget its close relatives: “You need to let it go and move on” and “You need to forgive and move on.” All of them are, in my experiences, just socially acceptable ways of saying, “Shut up. What you’re saying makes me uncomfortable, and I don’t want to hear about it.” It’s saying, “My needs matter more than yours,” which is also the implicit message our abusers gave us.
Sadly, though, people even tell me to get over my serious physical illness. It’s an invisible autoimmune disease, meaning I don’t look sick–so people think I’m making it up or exaggerating it. Even physical illness isn’t immune to the “shut up and get over it” attitude.
April 23, 2014 at 1:36 pm
I hear you and can truly say, “I get it, I understand”, and I know you know I’m telling you the truth. Please know you’re not alone in the feelings you’re having and both myself and everyone associated with TWH is here for you and with you. Know also that you can reach out to us anytime. My direct email is firstname.lastname@example.org – please use it whenever you need. We have to be there for each other because as you said, others feel uncomfortable, whereas we know how the other feels.
April 29, 2014 at 7:34 am
I could not agree more. I am saddened that you, and others like us have to endure this, but at the same time glad that there ARE others who feel as I do about those insensitive comments. One who knows not what we endured, should not deign to comment nor offer unsolicited advice to ” Get over it”. If it were that simple I would have done so.
April 23, 2014 at 1:31 pm
Very important to share and expose these deeply felt thoughts because we cannot assume that all the well-intended people we meet will have the knowledge and skills to interact with us in appropriate ways. Some times it could also be a signal for us to learn how to stand our ground and give value to whatever it is that we r feeling, also allowing others to that same right and not be reduced or diminished by divergence Best, Hyacinth 347 283 4469 Visit us at: Veryloudyouth.org & on Facebook VeryLoudYouth Sent from my iPhone
April 23, 2014 at 4:40 pm
How horrible to simply say”get over it!!!”The Eagles had a song awhile back with exactly that title! People who say these things don’t fully realize the damage they cause.This type of abuse leaves a hole in the soul that just can’t be imagined!! Love and compassion is what is needed along with a listening ear.Anyone who has experienced abuse of any sort feels unworthy,I personally know many.The hurt and anger that is within them can never be explained,I don’t think it can ever be completely healed!!! Love and compassion is the only answer.
April 23, 2014 at 5:27 pm
Hi Myrna, I totally agree with you…love & compassion is the only way…
April 23, 2014 at 7:16 pm
Evidence would send a discovered murderer to jail 20 or 30 years after the fact. Why should those who murder the innocence of children with despicable acts fare any differently. Read Judge Mary Bullock’s book “Judging Me” and one will know why perpetrators like hers should be exposed and criminally charged; the same as renowned community leader Jerry Sandusky, Penn State. The loss of his status with his family and community is a small price to pay for murder of childhood innocence & trust.
April 23, 2014 at 7:17 pm
I couldn’t agree more! That’s why we have to work at getting the SOL laws reformed to prevent sexual predators from getting away with their crimes.
April 29, 2014 at 7:31 am
Absolutely! Well said! I have been treated to those exact words by my mother, and it incenses me every time she says it. I am 50 years old, and as a result of the sexual abuse at the hands of my step-father that I endured on a daily basis for 17 years, I suffer from PTSD, Major Depression, and Major Mood Disorder.
Knowing others also feel the way I do about being told to ” Get Over it” or “let it go” really makes me feel better.
I too have experienced the same feedback from other like sufferers in chat rooms and on line support groups, so I discontinued my affiliation.
I work with a therapist and attend trauma group as well as DBT skills group.
Life, while precious, is a daily struggle to not get pulled under.
Thank you, for stating what you did.
May 2, 2014 at 11:10 am
I so hear you!! I just posted a blog post over the weekend and then get a message from my brother that I need to stop living in the past. Funny thing is…I don’t live in the past! I am “over it” meaning healing has come…but it doesn’t mean we remain silent. Countless victims are still being abused, they still do not have a voice, those of us who have walked through it and have healed must speak for them and help with the healing process. Which is a long road…a very long road and if you are healed there are still moments that the trauma of it all comes rushing over you.
I think what is even harder though is when those who have been abused tell another survivor to get over it! I sat with a woman in the early days of my healing process and she said “I was abused and got over it, you need to just get over it!” Seriously?? Since then I have found that there is a huge difference in the healing process of one who was fondled once or twice to one who has been chronically abused and raped.
So even those of us who have been abused need to understand that not every experience is the same and each person will have their own journey of healing. For some it may take a few counseling sessions others it could take years.
Sorry for going on so…thank you for this post!
May 4, 2014 at 6:11 am
You weren’t going on. Your comments are always welcome 🙂 thank you for opening up and sharing with your fellow survivors
June 20, 2014 at 2:28 pm
I was never sexually abused, but the abuse I went through as a child is unfathomable. Does anybody have any idea what it’s like to be called “stupid” year after year, by your own parents? Or being literally beaten up for minor issues? Or being forced to respect your own parents, while they continue to disrespect you— A) While I take a shower, my dad would ACTUALLY open the shower curtains, JUST to talk to me; B) My mom would tell anybody, from her friends to school workers, how I’m such a bad daughter and other lies filled with malice…..
Upon discovering this blog, I’m happy to know that there are people who do ACTUALLY care about innocent ones who have been taken advantage of at such a vulnerable age. I’m also really happy that there are people who object to other people saying deplorable things like, “You shouldn’t feel that way” or “Your parents are still your parents” or “God will not bless you if you don’t learn to forgive”.
MY POINT: The nerve of people saying such things! My advice for people who were victims of child abuse, rape, etc. would be: Avoid people who lack empathy. It’s NOT your fault that such people just can’t have the brains to comfort you. Obviously, such people don’t care about your pain.
Thank you and have a great, safe day.
June 20, 2014 at 4:00 pm
Thank you so much for the kind words. And please know we are here for you also. Trauma, whether it be sexual, physical or emotional, is still trauma. And we all have similar struggles. So please know we are here for you too 🙂
June 24, 2014 at 2:17 pm
Absolutely! One of the bad things about reality is that it brings people who never LISTEN. Instead, they say things according to what satisfies THEM. Personally, reality sucks, but I don’t give up.
August 25, 2014 at 4:47 pm
Thanks for this post…thats what Im feeling…why havent I gottne over it? I was doing good had a nice break…and now real ugly flashbacks with ugly painful feelings…dont want to face at all.
August 26, 2014 at 10:12 pm
Please know we are here to help Nessa. If you have any questions or anything we can help with don’t hesitate to call or email us – email@example.com – 754-234-7975 – david pittman