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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Abuse & Assault » Christmas/Disclosing to parents

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Author Topic: Christmas/Disclosing to parents
loststone
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I was wondering if anyone could give any input on disclosing to parents, particularly during the holiday period?

My parents don't know anything about my abusive ex, and I'm starting to feel quite a bit of pressure to tell them. Particularly since I'll be at home with them over the holidays, whereas I've been living near my university for the last few months.

There are lots of very good reasons why I should tell them: I'm sure they would be supportive, even if they don't really know how to deal with it; when I'm home for Christmas my ex will be pretty close by and they'd be able to make sure I was safe; and if I do decide to disclose to friends at home I wouldn't have to worry about them finding out from someone else. I've also been finding my academic work pretty difficult recently, and am in the process of telling my department some of what's going on; whereas before I'd really only been seeking out emotional support; and I feel like if I'm telling "proper adults" then my parents should be included. Plus of course, they can help me make sure I am on top of work too. A few people, a friend and some people in the support group I attend, have also flagged the reason that my parents probably know something's wrong and that I haven't told them, and thinking that I couldn't talk to them is a horrible thing for a parent. Whilst I understand the sentiment of this, I feel a bit guilted into telling them which puts me on the defensive about it straight away.

A big reason why I haven't told them is protecting them: I know they'll feel awful and guilty. I realise that as their child it isn't my job to protect them, but I love them and care about them and can't stand to make them feel that way. Another reason is, quite frankly, pride. I don't like admitting that I need help at the best of times, and I can imagine my parents being pretty overprotective about this (completely understandably!). I guess I like to think that I can deal with this by myself, which is silly, but I don't like the idea of getting my parents involved, and therefore their feelings hurt, if I can deal with it myself. In terms of telling them over Christmas, it feels like pretty bad timing. It's the holidays, so people will be stressed out, plus my parents are taking on a lot in trying to keep the rest of my family happy. It's our first Christmas since my gran passed away and I know it's going to be hard on everyone, and my parents are really trying to look after everyone already. I also, really need the holiday; just some space to relax. I don't want to "ruin" the holiday, not just for everyone else, but also for me.

I'm feeling torn on what do to, I think I've rambled enough so, any thoughts?

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Heather
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In general, it tends to be advvised that people avoid big disclosures or conversations about knowingly or potentially volatile things over the holidays. Why? Well, while it's supposed to be big-happy-together-yay time, a lot of people tend to come to family holiday gatherings pretty stressed out. So, that timing can result in less sensitivity and calm than you might get at another time. I'm less concerned about someone "ruining" a holiday than not getting the reception with a tough disclosure they need.

That said, it's important that if you want to disclose to anyone, you get the ability to do that, and I agree, having their support would, I think, be a very good thing for you.

So, what I'd suggest, if possible, is seeing if there is any way you could talk to them before the holidays, or at least get the conversation started before. Is that an option for you?

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loststone
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That's another very good point, hadn't even thought about that possibility.

My term finishes this week, so I am theoretically free pretty soon. I was planning on staying at uni for another week to work (I need the library, software etc) then going home the weekend after this one. Potentially I could go home before then, or visit home and come back. I'm not sure at what point it is too close to Christmas...

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Heather
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Well, what do YOU think?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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loststone
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I don't know, assuming I stay for the extra week, that's only one week before Christmas; I can imagine that being pretty stressful. If I went home before then, that would be before my brothers broke up from school, so that sort of feels like the holidays haven't started yet.

I guess I don't really have much idea what kind of reaction my parents will have. I mean, I'm sure they'll be supportive, but I can't work out what sort of effect it will have.

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Heather
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It sounds like you really want to tell them.

If so, you take the best you can get with timing. In your case, I'd just say that the week before probably way beats the day before or the day of if that's a holiday you all celebrate.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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loststone
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Sorry I didn't reply before, I've been having technology issues...

Thing is, I'm not really sure I do want to tell them. I kind of feel like, I don't know what good it would do, you know? I'm finding it hard to see what the benefits would be I guess.

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Heather
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No worries.

So, how about this: how about you see how you feel once you're there? You can also directly see how stressful -- or not -- this holiday is in terms of the timing of telling them that way.

I do want to check in about something you mentioned in your first post, feeling like if you're telling other adults, you should also tell your parents.

I don't think anyone owes anyone disclosures like this, no matter who they are. When you want to tell them -- and if you do -- or anyone else, I think that's the big deciding factor on telling. Know what I mean?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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loststone
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Yeah, I think that's probably the best plan [Smile]

I know what you mean. I guess I do kind of feel like I owe them a bit; like I owe them knowing what's going on in my life. I know that isn't sound, I'm an adult and I get to decide what I tell them (and I would even if I wasn't an adult, but in terms of uni, I can deal with special consideration etc without my parents input). I guess part of it as well is feeling like telling them should be part of my healing process. I know it doesn't work like that and there isn't any right way to do it; but I still feel like not telling them at all is the wrong way, if that makes sense?

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Heather
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Well, I think it might help to figure that not telling them this month doesn't have to mean not telling them at all. It could also just mean telling them later, at a time you felt better about it.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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loststone
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I know I could tell them later; I guess I feel like if telling them is part of my healing process then I want to heal as fast as I can. I know that doesn't reflect reality, and it's silly to force myself to heal "faster". I wouldn't really expect that of myself, it doesn't work like that. I guess I just wish it did, and there's a less logical part of me that sees it that way.

But I'm feeling better about the prospect of not telling them now [Smile]

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Heather
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So, maybe the question to think about then, is if you feel like discolsing to them at a given time would or would not move you forward in your healing process.

I'd say to just go by your guts. If you go home, and there's a moment where you feel like it will, then roll with it. If not, that's okay, too.

There's no right way to heal. nor any right pace for all the steps of healing (which also aren't the same for all of us: some people heal without ever disclosing to family or have the chance to). [Smile]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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loststone
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I think you're right, I'll see how things go when I'm at home. Obviously there are a lot of factors which could change things; so maybe trying to predict them isn't worth it.

In terms of whether telling them would help me heal (in general), I really don't know. I guess I don't really know what a lot of the healing process will look like. It's strange, when I first started I wanted to get to a point where I was able to tell all our mutual friends and confront her; then I wasn't really interested in those things any more but didn't replace those "goals" with anything else. I guess I'm quite a goal oriented person so having healing be something without a clearly defined goal is proving difficult in terms of how I go about it.

Anyway, that's just a bit of a ramble.

Thank you for your support, I'd had a few people telling me about how awful my parents would feel if they knew I was hurting and didn't know why which was making me feel like I should tell them; so it's nice to be backed up that whether it helps me is the most important thing to be worrying about.

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