Circle of Trust Violations
What is a “Circle of Trust”? Simply put, it is the people children rely on for a healthy and happy upbringing.
From the day that they are born, children depend on others. In a perfect world, family and community work together. They provide basic necessities and nurturing. Children have no choice other than depending on these people. While children grow from that care, so does the love and trust with those closest to them. This creates a Circle of Trust. This bond allows children to feel safe and free to be their true and authentic selves.
This bond is, dare I say…sacred. So many of us respond to the call of raising, rearing, and loving children even if they are not our own. From parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, coaches, religious leaders, teachers, and social workers we see proof of this “Circle of Trust” every day. We see what is possible when a child is not just loved but knows they are loved.
What happens when someone we love takes advantage of that trust, though? What are the consequences when a violation as severe as sexual abuse is inflicted by someone we trust? What happens when a parent is the abuser? We asked Deanna Hynes, survivor of incest, about her experience with sexual abuse.
“My father was my abuser yet I have many happy memories of him. Those memories, remembering what I believed to be goodness in my father, is part of what kept me silent for so long.”
When she first attempted to get help at 13, Deanna’s mother threatened to abandon if she further spoke of the abuse. Deanna listened and once again she was silent. The day after she turned 18 Deanna fled her childhood home, with nothing but her soccer bag and the world’s heaviest secret.
After over two years of separation from her biological parents, Deanna disclosed to her boyfriend in June of 2012. Fighting through an ingrained sense of betrayal of her family, she was able to begin living her life honestly and authentically. The process of healing would have overcome Deanna if not for her family of choice, her system of support, and her true Circle of Trust.
“Even after a year of my father being imprisoned and 10 years removed from his abuse, I still feel conflicted for talking about my father being a sexual abuser. When I was a child, I was taught that it was my responsibility to keep the family secret and protect my dad. I now know that I was taught to feel indebted to abusers. They groomed me to believe that providing of basic needs meant they could do whatever they wanted to their children; we owed them our silence since they were…well, our parents. What a backwards concept, children believing they are indebted to their abusive parents!”
When a child is sexually abused by someone within their “Circle of Trust” the ramifications and lifetime impact are comparable to none. Like Deanna, some children are able to create a “Family of Choice” and heal in their adult life. Finding love from those she has chosen and those who have chosen her in return. And though she and many others still feel the scars and confusion from their childhood, they have support in their ultimate journey.
For all of the other children who are struggling in their families; The children who have been violated and suffocated into silence; The children who not only deserve love but have a right to it; we are here for you. We will keep speaking out, speaking up, and speaking as often as possible. We will open our hearts, our lives, and most importantly, our circles for you.
FULL TRANSCRIPT (The following is the full transcript of this episode of The Be Seen and Heard Journey. Please note that this episode, like all BSH Journey episodes, features Victor speaking extemporaneously–he is unscripted and unedited.)
Hey, it’s Victor. Welcome to another Be Seen and Heard© Journey. Thank you for taking the ride with me. Whether you’re listening or you are watching this video, I’m super excited to talk about somethin that’s very important to me and that’s–circle of trust. There are different terms for it. There’s the safety circle or something that I have coined the phrase — trusted heroes and trusted adults. aI want to share something important today. When I finally had the courage to share about my abuse, I was 19 in college and I was still humiliated. I was still embarrassed. I didn’t know how to put a sentence together to use the terms abuse because as a 19 year old man physically, I was emotionally still eight because I never talked about it. But I finally had the courage to call home and honestly I didn’t really care who was going to answer the phone.
My whole family is my circle of trust and it was my beautiful sister Reneé, who answered the phone and get this…She believed me immediately even though I couldn’t formulate the words, abuse. She guessed it out of me. She believed me and my healing started at that moment.
Well, this week’s post talks about how some kids are not believed and even at a higher level or a deeper level– they are violated by the people that they trust. Deanna’s story goes further this week where her father was her abuser. So this someone that she should trust. This is one of her, you know, safety circle people. This is one of her trusted heroes, but he violated that trust by abusing her. And I won’t get into her story, but it’s really, really sad. I can’t imagine being in her situation. What’s even almost as worse is that when she told another trusted hero, someone in her circle of trust, her mother, she refused to listen to her. Her mother said, “Don’t talk about this anymore.”
Her mother wanted to sweep it under the carpet. And of course her mother was probably very aware of what was happening. But either she didn’t want to believe it or she didn’t want to cause any problems in the family.
So we must teach children to have those trusted adults and those trusted heroes. It’s so important because for me, it worked the first time. For others, it may take four or five times before someone actually listens to you or believes you. In Deanna’s situation, it took her about seven years before someone actually believed her. So my point is this…On one hand we have to have circles of trust. We have to have that group of people that we can go to.
If one’s not around, we go to somebody else. We have to create a team of trusted people. This is what I’ve been doing for a long time and it is my goal to help kids to be able to privately raise that hand and to share what is hurting them. But they have to have people in their life that are going to believe them. You know, teachers and social workers and parents and grandparents and coaches. And we also need to teach kids to be aware. And as the kids get older, I get them to understand, yes, these are the people out in the world that abuse children ultimately because they trick the person into trusting them. But that’s why we have to keep raising children’s awareness to be understanding of this, that when they are around everybody, that they have to have that good feeling around them.
And if they ever have that inner siren, that yucky feeling that goes off inside of them, that they know that’s a flag and it’s a siren telling them to stop, look within, and take action. So check out this week’s post. Hear more about Deanna’s story. This is an important topic for me because again, my sister was there for me and I know my whole family would have been there for me as well, but it’s about teaching children to have those circles of trust, but also to be aware of the people that are in those circles. So thank you so much. It’s been an honor and a privilege that you’re here with me today. Please share this with your family and friends and let’s continue raising awareness and helping kids all over the world to just be aware of their surroundings and know that no one touches them inappropriately or hurts them inappropriately with their words or with their actions. Thank you so much. Have an amazing day and don’t forget you and everyone else has the right to be seen and heard. Have a great day.