On May 28th, 2019, I saw Ellen on the NBC Nightly News speaking about suffering child sexual abuse as a 15-year-old teen by her stepfather. It was the second story I had listened to this week about someone sharing their experiences, but I will talk about that brave soul in another piece.
I was unable to listen to the entire show, but this morning on my tablet I was able to go back and listen to what she shared. Each story a survivor share is filled with details that can inform others who pay attention, and it is in those details that we learn how abusers operate and manipulate.
Maybe it is just something that I do, but when I read cases or hear stories about victims it is the what was done that draws my attention. Not the details of the abuse, all such things tend to fall into specific categories, but the processes and procedures that a predator uses to abuse.
First, I want to thank Ellen for her bravery and passion as a survivor and advocate, because she has a platform that enables her to inspire and educate millions. The more that we, survivors of child sexual abuse, share our stories and experiences, the more that is revealed about how it was done and its impact. I applaud Ellen for repeatedly sharing her story, subjecting herself to reliving that nightmare and trauma, and being an example to all survivors.
If you are able to watch Ellen’s interview with David Letterman, then I encourage you to watch and listen closely to her message. All I had to go on was the audio podcast of the news, but the following is what resonated with me.
Ellen was abused at age 15 by her stepfather, and the abuse happened when her mother was in a battle with breast cancer. He suggested that he should check Ellen’s breasts as if such was a sign of a loving father figure, but he isn’t the only predator we have learned used a medical procedure to mask molestation. How many doctors in recent years have used such to prey on women and children? Not only did Ellen’s stepfather use an emotionally vulnerable time for her, considering her mother’s condition, but he sought to use her sexually to meet his sexual needs since her mother was sick.
I am happy that Ellen was able to flee the situation, even if he did repeatedly approach her in the same fashion, but it breaks my heart to hear of yet another victim that was not believed when they shared. Ellen’s mother didn’t believe her, stayed with her abuser for another 18 years until the changing stories he offered finally lead her to see the truth. Ellen had been telling the truth all along, but by the time she realized it, Ellen had been alienated by the one person she needed most to hear her. Her mom.
Ellen has expressed her anger regarding the way victims are accused of making this kind of thing up, and studies of abuse survivors show how rare it is for the abuse to be untrue. In those cases, the children are often manipulated by a parent or other offender into saying what they do to others. Who would ever want to make such a thing up, after all, and endure what we have in an effort to end the abuse and break free of that prison?
Thank you, Ellen, for giving all child sex abuse survivors a voice, and helping the world better understand what victims face simply to be heard. Please join me in praising her for doing what she didn’t have to do because even as a grown woman the retelling of such things is never easy.