Secrets of Abuse Victims: A Mental Health Perspective

Joel Eisenberg

Speaking out is frequently considered by mental health professionals as among the most effective and healing of all therapies, but sufferers understand how difficult this can be.

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Hidden TraumaOlivier Piquer, Unsplash

Author’s Note

Though I am a former mental health professional with training in Psychology, I am not a doctor and I offer no medical advice or diagnosis herein. Please contact a currently practicing medical or mental health professional for any potential issue related to this article that requires attention.

Outside sources for this article include: EW.com, and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Introduction

An April 14, 2022 article from EW.com, written by Jessica Wang and entitled “Wil Wheaton Moved by Jerry O'Connell's Apology For Being Unaware of Childhood Abuse: 'You Were 11,’” discusses both actors’ recent appearance on “The Talk,” where the subject of Wheaton’s alleged abuse by his parents during the filming of 1986’s “Stand By Me” was brought up in conversation.

A video clip from “The Talk” is included in the article.

Wang’s article offers further perspective on the matter: Back in May, ahead of the film's 35th anniversary, Wheaton spoke openly about the abuse he endured — mostly in silence — from his parents during his childhood. In an interview with Yahoo Entertainment, he said he suffered "a combination of an incredible emotional abuse from my father and a lot of manipulation, using me, from my mother." A few days after Wheaton's revelations, O'Connell voiced support and sympathy for his former costar on The Talk. "I had no idea he was feeling this when we were doing this film," O'Connell said, adding, "I wish I was older back then so I could have said, 'Hey Wil, hey man, is anything wrong?'"

EW.com hyperlinks from related aspects of the story are included above.

Indeed, as Wheaton had expressed in the video clip, it is common for those who have suffered trauma to convincingly cover up that reality.

Let us explore further.

On the Value of Speaking Out

I have written extensively about mental health issues on NewsBreak, frequently focusing on issues related to depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. At times, all of those issues can be exacerbated if abuse on the part of another is also a factor.

In December of 2017, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence published a blog entry by an abuse survivor. Simply titled “The Value of Speaking Up,” the blog can be found here, which states in part: Dealing with the aftermath of domestic violence and abuse can be just as grueling as the actual relationship. For me, what I remember more than anything was that unrelenting fear of telling the truth. My abuser was in my graduate program. Like most abusers, he was well liked, charismatic, and charming. And this made it so incredibly easy to fall for him in the beginning, and so incredibly difficult to speak up when it all came crashing down. No one saw who he became behind closed doors. The fear that no one would believe me felt insurmountable, the risk of speaking up felt simply not worth it. So for quite awhile, I stayed silent.

Abuse can take on many forms, from psychological to physical. The more we encourage others to speak up, the more difficult it may be for them to do so.

Keep in mind, though, that if you know an individual who has been abused, please do not push them to talk. Let them know you will support them in any way possible, which includes speaking if they so choose, and helping them find therapy if they believe it is necessary but do not know where to turn.

Conclusion

For one who does not suffer, or for one who has never experienced the pain of abuse or other mental trauma, it may be difficult to understand the ongoing plights of those who do.

We may say to those sufferers that it is no crime to speak out; however, the reality is considerably more complex. It is frequently immensely difficult for sufferers to confront those issues without feeling shame, or misplaced self-blame.

It becomes that much more difficult, then, to acknowledge those realities to someone else.

Therapy, for anyone who has so suffered, is strongly recommended.

Thank you for reading.

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I am an award-winning author, screenwriter for film and television, and producer. My mission on News Break is to share socially important perspectives on both culture and pop-culture. Member of PEN America, and the WGA.

Northridge, CA
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