Abuse victim explains why it can take years to come forward

Former Alabama Chief Justice and U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore speaks at a revival, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017, in Jackson, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Brynn Anderson/Associated Press
US Senate candidate Roy Moore speaking in Jackson, Ala.

To cast doubt upon the allegations of sexual misconduct that have been made against him, Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore asks why the women waited so long to report the abuse. As an adult who suffered childhood sexual abuse and then, when I was 40, took my abuser to court, I can shed light on the answer to that question.

While the abuse is happening, you only wish that it will stop. You try to disappear, go somewhere else in your mind, and wait for the abuse to end. You rationalize that somehow this was your fault. How else could something this horrible happen to you?

If you do eventually tell someone, they may or may not believe you. As time passes, you try to forget the abuse, but the trauma changes you forever. These changes pop up throughout your adulthood. The change that happened to me was that I always felt the need to control everything in my environment. I rationalized that, as a child, if I had maintained some sort of control over my abuser’s access to me, the abuse wouldn’t have happened.


After many exhausting years being hypervigilant, I entered into therapy. Through a long journey I learned that the abuse was not my fault. Then I got angry. Why didn’t anyone listen to me? Why didn’t anyone protect me? Why was I made to feel ashamed, but my abuser went on with life?

This anger led me finally to stand up for that little girl whom no one ever stood up for. It took me 25 years before I felt worthy to hold my abuser accountable. Maybe my story will shed some light on what an abuse victim goes through before they have the strength to stand up to their abuser.

Annette Anderson


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