I am breaking my silence.
I am breaking my silence for any person who is a stepparent, and they are living in a dangerous situation at the hands of their stepchildren.
I am breaking my silence because I know what it is like to scourer the internet trying to find someone or some resource to signal that I was not alone.
So begins a post from Dr Sam Kline. You can read the rest of the post here, and there is the promise of a follow up on her site in a week or so. You will recognise many of her comments:
- The assumption that ‘step-parent abuse’ was abuse BY step-parents
- The societal messages to girls and women not to make a fuss, to keep the peace, to look after the needs of the men
- The shame and lack of expectation of help that stops people coming forward
She raises important messages to families in responding to abuse:
- The importance of parents ‘being on the same page’
- The importance of going through with plans, however hard to do
- The importance of support from friends and of being believed
And she also talks about the way that parents keep loving, even when that means loving from a distance.
We have no certainty of how many families – of every hue – experience violence and abuse from their children, and we can probably never know exactly. While parents find it difficult to come forward for help, and for all of us to talk about this, there will continue to be people who believe that they are totally alone in their experience. Thankfully, the last couple of years have seen more people speaking out, more sympathetic coverage, and a more widespread response, but we still have a long way to go. In the meantime, I draw comfort from every post such as that from Kline, not that they have had to go through the abuse, but that they have found the courage to speak out, and by doing so will have helped someone else recognise that they are not alone.
I know what it is like to come across a story on the internet and feel comfort in knowing I was not alone.
We cannot change issues if everyone remains silent.