Abuse Disclosure and Response: Video Transcript

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In this video, Jenn talks about her journey to recognizing the sexual abuse she suffered as a teen, and then disclosing that abuse to her family. This process was the beginning of the relationship issues with her family that eventually led to Jenn being no contact with her parents and one of her brothers.

Woman in front of pond. Healing took a lot of processing time in nature.
Taking time to process the feelings

Full video transcript

NOTE: The transcript for the video is presented below, with only slight modifications for clarity. In some cases, I have included additional information to aid understanding, marked off with [square brackets in italics].

How did I end up no contact with my parents and brother? That’s a longer story even than the one I told last time about how we ended up no contact with my in-laws. 

So I’ll share it with you in bits and pieces. And if you want to follow along, you’re welcome.

A shocking recognition

This excellent book (affiliate link) was a great help to me when I was working through my missionary kid trauma.

A year ago as I was working through some trauma that I had from life on the mission field as a missionary kid from the age of 10 to 18. So I was working through various traumas in my adult life. 

Working through some things with my husband relating to his upbringing and the crazy family he grew up in—raised by two narcissists. 

In all that sorting, and counseling, and working through my own stuff, I finally came to recognize that I had been sexually abused and sexually assaulted for many years while we were living on the mission field

Changed understanding

And I say recognized it, because until that point I had always in my brain counted it as a teen fling kind of thing. I took responsibility for some of what happened in that relationship, in that situation.

Woman and daughter catching snowflakes. My daughter here is about the age I was when the abuse started.
My daughter here is about the age I was when the abuse started.

And what happened was as my oldest children started to hit 13 years–12, 13, 14, and I recognized that my abuse had started around that age— around 12, 13, 14. And the person abusing me was eight years older than I was, so an adult — 20, 21, 22. 

Becoming a parent changes perspective

As a parent of children that age, I finally recognized that I had no responsibility for what was done to me. Because an adult should’ve known better, and should’ve had the self-control to not do anything like that. And he was also grooming me.

As I started to study what grooming looked like, I started to understand that what had happened to me was nothing short of abuse. And that I had no responsibility for what had happened to me. 

And it took becoming a parent of a child that age for me to recognize that fully. In the moment, when I finally made that connection, it was almost as if it washed over me again and I was in the moment having it happen again. 

It was that forceful and emotional. So I had to sort through it again fresh. 

I recognized that I was going to need support and help.

Why abuse survivors don’t get help quickly

And I also recognized that it was time for me to tell my family what had happened so many years ago. Because none of them had ever witnessed it and I had not told them for a number of reasons which I’ve detailed in some of my other videos. 

@dinkumtribe Survivors know that making a report is going to be disruptive to everyone involved and the community at large. It appears easier to suffer in silence. @dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe #SpiritualAbuse #EmotionalAbuse #ReligiousAbuse #EmotionalManipulation #MentalAbuse #AbuseRecovery #childhoodneglect #traumatok #traumasurvivor #childhoodabuse #childhoodtrauma #healingtrauma #sexualabuse #sexualabusesurvivor #survivortok ♬ original sound – DinkumTribe ADHD family travel

If you want to check them out on my profile, they’re under “Why abuse survivors don’t get help when it is happening.” I talk about some of the reasons there why I never said anything to my family about it. 

@dinkumtribe It’s not uncommon for abuse survivors to protect their abusers. @dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe #SpiritualAbuse #EmotionalAbuse #ReligiousAbuse #EmotionalManipulation #MentalAbuse #AbuseRecovery #childhoodneglect #traumatok #traumasurvivor #childhoodabuse #childhoodtrauma #healingtrauma #sexualabuse #sexualabusesurvivor #survivortok ♬ original sound – DinkumTribe ADHD family travel

Support and help needed

Anyway, when I finally realized that what had happened to me was abuse, I knew I needed to have support. And I’ve always been a really open person when it comes to talking about my truth. 

But I haven’t been good at asking for what I needed because I didn’t know for a long time, I didn’t realize that I could ask for what I needed. And there’s a lot of reasons for that too, which I’ll go into later probably.

My husband was my first support

Woman piecing quilt squares on an ironing board. I took up quilting as a creative outlet to help with processing.
I took up quilting as a creative outlet to help with processing.

But in any case, I made the decision to tell my family. My husband, had known for years already. Actually he was one of the very first people I told about the abuse, within a few months of us meeting. 

So he already knew about it, but he hadn’t even realized the full extent of what had happened. That I had actually been in a home where my abuser lived. So he lived with my family for awhile, and that it had been ongoing for several years. 

@dinkumtribe Sometimes abuse is easily seen, but most often it is hidden, and not obvious. #childhoodabusesurvivors #childhoodabusesurvivors💜 #survivorsoftiktok #childabuseisneverok #copingwithmytrauma #cptsdwarriors #cptsdawareness💕 #childhoodtraumasurvivor #survivorofchildabuse #survivorofchildhoodtrauma ♬ I'm Still Standing – Remastered – Elton John

Bigger than he knew

My husband didn’t realize the magnitude of it. I think when I first explained it to him, he just thought, the way I explained it—which is not unusual the way I understand is… I’ve studied this a little bit, but the way I explained it to him made it sound like it was a single event. 

Which it wasn’t— it was multiple events ongoing over several years.

I decide to disclose to my family

Woman hand sewing quilt. After the abuse disclosure, I needed a lot of quiet processing time. Quilting was an excellent outlet.
Finishing a quilt for my son.

In any case, I realized that I should let my family know. One, because they knew the person involved. But two, because they lived near us and we were probably going to need some help while I had… took the time I needed to sort through these things.

So I scheduled a time to talk with each of my siblings and their spouse and with my parents at that time. And so I made I made these visits where I talked about what had happened and who had been involved and each couple had a different response and it was Illuminating in hindsight. 

Abuse disclosure to my family


So I started with, I have two brothers and one sister, so three siblings. I’m the oldest, and I started with the older of my two brothers because I already knew that he would be the easiest one to talk to. 

He and I’ve always connected well and understood each other well. We just, we have similar personalities in some ways and so we understand each other pretty well, um, and so I knew it would be easiest to tell him. 

Older brother

So I told him and my sister-in-law and they were appropriately horrified. Um, sorry, I don’t know how to put that better but their response was more than, was… was appropriate and suitable to the gravity of what I shared. And of course they offered to do anything that I needed help with.

And mostly I said, “No, I just, I really just need you to know. I need something, like, for you to know this because I’m just… I’m gonna need some time to process this. And I’m not going to be at capacity for awhile. It’s going to take me some time.” They’re like, “Yeah of course!” 

Moving on so…


Telling my parents

So my parents were traveling at the time I finally… this all kind of came crashing down on me. And so I made an appointment to, I made an appointment to go over and see them. 

My husband Brian came with me for that one. I didn’t even feel like I needed him to come with me when I went to talk to my the older of my two brothers, because we just have a good relationship. But um, this time I had my husband come with me and we told my parents. 

So I’m telling my parents about how I had lived with someone who was sexually abusing me for several years while we were in Jamaica. He had lived in our house with all of our family. 

And I’m telling my parents about it because they didn’t know it was happening at the time. And it’s 20 plus years later I’m telling them finally and…

Steak and French bread for dinner.
Steak and French bread for dinner

Memory unlocked

But then I remembered that I had [previously] told my mom. I had told my mom about two years after we moved back from Jamaica.

And it was, we were driving somewhere and I disclosed her that I’d been abused by the same man who lived with us. And we were just driving along to go to someplace and she didn’t really have a shocked look.

Mom’s mishandling of initial abuse disclosure

You know, she said, “I’m really sorry that happened and I didn’t know. And I suspected something was off about the relationship but I didn’t really know for sure. And so, you know, that’s why we told him he needed to get his own place at that point. But I didn’t know that. I’m really sorry.”

And she said, “I don’t think you should tell your dad. Because he’s just gonna be angry and there’s nothing he can do about it.”

Minimal support

And she asked me if I’d gotten any help. And I said, “Well, I told a counselor about it once. There was a counselor at the missionary kid reentry seminar that I attended. And I went in one afternoon for an hour-long session and disclosed it to the counselor and asked, like, “What do I do?”

Okay, I mean, we only had an hour, right? Um, and he mostly just said, “Okay…um, yeah, and what do you think your parents think about that?” 

And that, that was like as far as we got. It wasn’t much. But in my mom’s brain, I really don’t know what she was thinking, honestly. She’s like, “Okay, well, good, I’m glad you got some help for it,” and we kept driving to where we were going. 

Image of storm cloud with the words "Yet the soul stayed on God may sing bravely its psalm, for the heat of the storm is the center of calm" Streams in the Desert.
A graphic I made at the time

Lack of response

And when we got to where we were going, we just did the thing that we had got… I don’t remember where we were going, but anyway we did the thing we got there to do. And like, nothing more was said about it, ever. 

We didn’t stop the car. We didn’t like have a hug, or anything. It was just like, okay, well, on to the next thing. 

And it was almost like she forgot about it. But she didn’t, because at other points when it was needful [for her pastoral ministry with people] she would bring it up to help other people who were in similar circumstances. So she hadn’t forgotten. 

Woman and boy smiling. Being silly with my kids was a huge source of healing from my own childhood abuse.
Being silly with my kids was a huge source of healing from my own childhood abuse.

Abuse disclosure to my parents

So fast forward to now [2018]. This is about, this is just about four years ago now, and I’m telling her and my dad. I’m disclosing to them about this abuse that I suffered for years. Which is not a new revelation for my mom. But for my dad it is. 

And my mom just pretends like, she, like, it’s the first time she’s hearing it. 

They both are apologetic: “Well, we didn’t know. I’m really sorry, and that was really terrible.”

Younger brother

So I’m telling my family about how I lived through this sexual abuse for many years with someone that they knew. 

And I’m telling my brother, my second brother now. This is the younger of the two—we’ll call him Jay. I’m not going to mention his actual name on here. But um, I’m telling him and his wife about it. 

And of course, you know, the appropriate response of, “I’m really sorry that happened to you. That’s terrible. And let us know if there’s anything we can do.”

@dinkumtribe Even if you report, what’s happening or what has happened and you don’t get an appropriate response please don’t give up! If you keep speaking up, someone will take action! You’re worth it! @@dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe #SpiritualAbuse##EmotionalAbuse##ReligiousAbuse##EmotionalManipulation##MentalAbuse##AbuseRecovery##childhoodneglect##traumatok##traumasurvivor##childhoodabuse##childhoodtrauma##healingtrauma##stopsexualassultandabuse##abusesurvivor ♬ original sound – DinkumTribe ADHD family travel

My sister and brother-in-law

Okay, and for various reasons, I didn’t end up getting around to telling my brother-in-law (my sister’s husband). [I ended up telling him around 8 months later, and his response was compassionate. He also consistently checked in on me for several weeks afterward to see how I was doing with it.]

My sister knew. She came on me when… she happened to come over and run into me at the moment… At the time when I was just in the middle of grieving the magnitude of this sudden understanding I had come into, about the fact that it was abuse and not a teen fling. 

Anyway, so I didn’t end up talking to my brother-in-law until awhile later. 

Holly in the snow
Holly in the snow

Did we actually have a conversation?

But I had talked to now both of my brothers, and their wives and my parents. And I expressed to them that, you know, this was a big deal and I was going to need some time to process. And just letting them know so they could be aware that I might not be myself for a little while because this is a big deal. I’m gonna have to sort through this.

Six months plus goes by. Not one of them asked me how I was doing with it. Not one of them brought it up. It was as though the conversation had never happened.

Why family members choose to ignore abuse.
Quote from blog post on “You Will Bear Witness” (no longer available). Here’s a similar post from Psych Central.

And I didn’t realize it, of course, at the time because I was just in the middle of my own grief, trying to process it all.

Painful silence after abuse disclosure

But I remember when I got to about six or seven months along and realized that none of them had even asked me how I was doing with it. Hadn’t checked in and said, “Hey, how’s that going?” 

Woman frowning in grassy lawn. My abuse disclosure to my family was largely met with silence instead of ongoing support.
This was a test shot I was doing for a photo shoot. But that’s an accurate face for what I was feeling after abuse disclosure and silence.

Aside from the initial, like, the next time they saw me after the disclosure they’re like, “Hey, how you doing?” 

That was it. Like, nothing. It was almost as if I had said nothing to them and that was really painful.

But it—it started to help me realize that something was amiss. 

Cuddling with our kitty helped me with the grief of my abuse disclosure and lack of response.
Cuddling with our kitty helped me with the grief.

My mom’s unhealthy relationship with me

And I started to have, I started to recognize that my mom and my dad, but my Mom especially, um that I was acting more in a role of her counselor [therapist] than anything else. She would bring me issues and she… It really had been going on for a lot of years but I started to notice it. 

I think it’s because I was in a place where I had people who were acting in that capacity for me. I had a counselor and I had a support group and so I could recognize that that’s how she was treating me.

But it wasn’t reciprocal, I wasn’t able to do the same towards her.

Next video in the series: Our story- Adult bullies in the family

©️Copyright Jennifer D. Warren 2023

Pinnable image for abuse disclosure and response
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Pinnable image for abuse disclosure and response
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About the author

I’m Jenn Warren, Co-Founder and Content Creator for Dinkum Tribe. I'm a Third Culture Kid (TCK) from Jamaica and California, married to my college sweetheart. I've been a missionary kid, pastor’s kid and (former) pastor’s wife. My husband and I traveled as pastors for 12 years throughout the United States and Canada before becoming travel content creators.

I love living in Oregon and exploring new places with my family. We’ve road tripped over 30,000 miles across the United States and Western Canada with our six children since their infancy. Prior to our marriage, I also lived in Spain for a summer and spent another summer in Mexico.

I’ve homeschooled our six children for over 10 years, and served on the board of a homeschool co-op for 4 years. Several members of our family are neurodivergent (gifted, ADHD, cPTSD), and I’ve spent 5+ years learning how to accommodate neurodivergent needs as well as supporting the resultant mental health challenges (anxiety, depression).

I’ve also served as a support group leader and co-director of Pure Life Alliance, a nonprofit organization that supports families struggling with sexual addiction.

I write about family travel and road trips, millennial marriage, general parenting, homeschooling, parenting neurodivergent children, grief, and abuse recovery.