Senator Scott BrownSenator Scott Brown (R-Mass.) revealed on 60 Minutes the other night that he was sexually abused several times as a child by a camp counselor. With the upcoming release of his new memoir, Scott Brown is not only telling this long-kept secret to a nation of readers for the first time, but he is also telling his wife and his mother for the very first time as well. "That's what happens when you're a victim. You're embarrassed. You're hurt ... " Scott said of his inability to reveal the sexual abuse.
Scott has been carrying this secret since he was 10 years old, where it has been festering inside him for all the 40+ years that came after. This is the double-edged horror of sexual abuse: the abuse itself and then the festering secret.
Scott also was physically abused by his mother's many husbands. And being dealt this unjust hand of child abuse, he learned what no child should ever have to learn -- how this abuser was able to make him his victim for life:
When people (predators) find people like me at that young, vulnerable age who are basically lost, the thing that they have over is they make you believe that no one will believe you.
As predators do ... He said, 'If you tell anybody ... I'll kill you. I will make sure that nobody believes you.'
I heard many sexual abuse stories like Scott's when I was growing up -- from girlfriends and girls at school -- but it's a whole other perspective hearing them as a parent. Atop the horror of the worry that sexual abuse might happen to your child, you begin to wonder if your child would be able to tell you if this did happen. Or if, like so many victims of abuse, your child might keep the festering secret forever and ever, too.
Even though we know that fear and shame is something even the most secure child can drown beneath, we wonder -- how we can let them know that we can be hurt, but we are not breakable? That their abuse story itself may crush us but not the telling of their story? And in fact, it is in the telling that we can help them to begin healing. It is in the telling that the monsters become less powerful, the secrets less ugly, their hearts more free.
How, how do we make this so for our kids and for more abuse victims out there? Is it even possible?
Brown's memoir Against All Odds: My Life of Hardship, Fast Breaks, and Second Chances comes out next week and details these traumatic experiences from his childhood.
Image via CBS News