Living with the emotional effects of sexual abuse is painful enough. Unfortunately, many survivors open up about their abuse only to find that their family members’ reactions toward them are just as painful — if not more so — than the original trauma. It may shock some people to learn that family members often choose to side with sexual abuse perpetrators and against their victims, especially if the abuse was committed within the family.
Becoming estranged from a relative is a sad and difficult decision, one that is usually made with grave consideration and based on the belief that the emotional cost of continuing contact is simply too great to bear. Most people wish there was another choice they could make, especially when the family members are their own parents.
Yet, there are probably far more people in this situation than most of us realize. We tend not to talk about estrangements much. Naturally, we hope to avoid the general awkwardness and potential judgment of others. Perhaps there is a dark side to families that we would prefer to keep private.