How to Tell

My mom was careful to hurt me in ways that did not show.  During those years we attended church three times a week.  We sat on our pew with clean clothes, neatly combed hair, and Sunday morning smiles.  Mom was an enthusiastic Sunday school teacher.  She was eccentric, but accepted.I was surprised when one day she made a mistake.  She hurt me in a way that was as plain as the nose on my face.  One day, in a fit of rage, she pinned me down and rubbed all the skin off my nose and cheeks.  The wound was large and the wound was obvious.  They could Tell.The long looks I took in the mirror removed any lingering doubt.  Someone would notice.  Someone would ask.  That knowledge filled me with an indescribably twisted mixture of hope and terror.We went to church as usual and of course we pretended my wound wasn’t there.  And like the emperor’s new clothes, when we pretended, everyone else did too.  Everyone pretended except for my youth minister.  I’ll call him John.John pestered me about my nose.  He ignored all my brush-offs and dodged all my lies.  He told me it didn’t look like I fell.  He told me bumping into a door couldn’t possibly do that.  He told me he wanted to know.  He wanted the truth.  He begged me to tell him.So for the first time in my life, I Told.  I Told everything.  John inhaled with a short, swift breath.  Then he was quiet for a long time.  A look of curiosity flashed across his face, then confusion, and finally he smiled.”Good”, he said.  “You probably deserved it!” When John walked away that day I made one of the biggest mistakes of my life.  I Believed him.  More than two decades passed before I ever Told again.

5 thoughts on “How to Tell

  1. Dear one,
    You did not deserve what your mother did. It was not your fault. It is my prayer that you are able to go back to that little
    girl and tell her the truth.

    I am so sorry that one you trusted lied to you. I know that must have hurt you. You must have struggled to believe that
    you could trust anyone. He did not treat you well. Maybe there
    was something that spoke to him in a place and he couldn’t handle what hit him so he blamed you. Regardless it is not your fault.

    No one deserves to be treated like that. I am sorry that you were not treated as you should have been. I am sorry that your mother hurt you.

    We remember these painful places to find the truth that we did not get. I pray that God’s truth will pour into your mind
    in that wounded place.

    Your heart is precious!
    Blessings & Love,


  2. Thank you Julie for taking the time to read and post here. Sympathy can be such a hard thing to handle. It’s like I can see it and think it would be a useful thing to have but don’t know what to do with it. It’s like getting a cool thing for your computer but not having the right kind of outlet to plug it in to. The unhealed part of me is like that but the healing part wants and needs it. To believe that God feels with me and to give myself permission to really feel bad so that I can really feel better. That for me is healing.


  3. you know, i found this blog randomly, and it resonated with me so deeply. i had a similar experience in my early teens. i had begun going to church obsessively – not by any pressure from my non-religious family, just out of sheer need to escape. my own youth minister became something of a surrogate parent and a crush to me. i ended up confiding in him one day about my own sexual abuse – he was the only person i had ever Told-capital-T. he seemed flabbergasted and not really sure what to make of my confession. a few days later, he cornered me in his office and asked me why i had lied, told me God didn’t approve of girls who lied just to get attention. it turned out my father – my abuser – had spoken to him and told him i was mentally unstable and making up stories. and he believed him. it took me ten years after that to Tell-capital-T again. for a long time i resented mark (the minister) for that. i stopped going to church because of the incredible shame i felt. it’s only now that i can look back and realize, he just didn’t know what to do with a confession of that magnitude. abuse simply did not happen in the world of the church. people turned blind eyes to it because they didn’t know how else to cope. it’s sad, but it’s true. it’s only now that i can put the blame squarely where it belongs.


  4. Thank you for sharing your heart here with us…sadly what you went through is all too common amongst abuse victims-different scenario similar story. I am so sorry that this young minister did not believe you, and chose rather to believe your father…what that does to our tender hearts leaves a very deep wound…to not be believed or validated leaves us with more shame.

    I know what it is to not be believed either and the blame placed solely back on the victim…I am glad that you are able now to put the blame back on whom it belongs…..

    And yes, sadly in the church abuse happens more than is admitted….the very place where we should be safe to not only share our wounds, but also the place where this kind of stuff should never happen, does…it is both a travesty and tragedy.


  5. What happened to you is just infuriating! I wonder if people get intimidated by adults, making it easier to believe an adult than a vulnerable child. Or if maybe people as you said don’t know what to do with the messiness of abuse. The man you Told found it easier to believe you were just trying to get attention. It’s just so wrong and so sad.

    I’m really glad you ended up here. Any further insights you have are welcome and appreciated!



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