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Something To Hide…

Most families have an unspoken creed that you don’t talk about what goes on behind closed doors. The drama that unfolds every so often in any household is no one’s business and should be kept between family members. The whole world doesn’t need to know that your aunt forgot your Mom’s birthday and now they aren’t speaking. Facebook and Snapchat friends don’t need to know that your grandpa got a little tipsy at the holiday party and told his daughter in law just what he thought of her. What happens in the family stays in the family.

But there are some families who take this unspoken creed a bit too far. Some families who are keeping dark, horrible secrets about what goes on behind closed doors at their house. Darker secrets than a drunk grandpa or an argument between siblings. Secrets that they keep not only to avoid embarrassment, but secrets they keep because they know how wrong their actions are. Secrets that may include abuse, domestic violence, neglect, and emotional trauma; secrets that are kept quiet through intimidation and fear of all family members.

Many of you reading this blog may not be able to relate to what I’m talking about at all. Because unless you lived the life that some of us lived and continue to live, it’s impossible to see or understand the dark secrets we were forced to keep. Perpetrators of abuse are skilled at doing every one of their terrifying acts behind closed doors, away from any sort of prying eye, and making their victims believe that no one would believe their story if they told it anyway.

Victims of this type of abuse walk around covering their bruises with oversized clothes or concealer, plaster fake smiles on their faces, and every single day of their life, act as if they just didn’t get the hell knocked out of them the night before. Why?

Because you don’t talk about what goes on behind closed doors and no one would believe you in the first place. Those two things have been drilled into your head for as long as you can remember.

But who are you protecting by keeping this family secret? Yourself? Your siblings? Your families reputation? No. If you are being abused, the only person you are protecting by keeping this secret is the abuser. The only person benefiting from you living by the creed of “what happens in the family stays in the family” is the abuser. The abuser gets the pleasure of being able to do whatever they please whenever they please because they know that their victim will never utter a word.

In the meantime, you are walking around with pain in your sides from a boot kick, bruises around your neck from being grabbed, and pain in your head from the screaming that lasted for hours the night before. You are the one smiling and pretending you live in a fairy tale world filled with rainbows and gumdrops, when in reality, everything inside of you is screaming for help.

If you are walking around like the person I described above, then you have a secret that you need to share with someone. You have a secret that goes beyond an argument between siblings or how grandpa acts when he’s drunk. You have a secret that you are only keeping because your abuser is terrified of being caught. Terrified because they know exactly what they are doing, how wrong it is, and they will go to great lengths to make the abuse they inflict become the family “secret”.

No secret is worth keeping if it means sacrificing your own self-worth. No secret is worth keeping if you are doing so out of fear and intimidation. No secret is worth keeping if the purpose of the secret is just to keep an abuser safe. Your safety and happiness comes first and no secret is worth your humiliation and pain.

If you or anyone else you know is being abused; please call 1-800-799-SAFE.

Something To Hide…

Sarah Burleton NY Times bestselling author

Victoria Gigante Writes For Psych CentralSarah Burleton was born in a little town in Illinois to a very emotionally disturbed woman. Her first book, her child abuse memoir "Why Me," spent 26 weeks on the New York Times and the print version is endorsed by David Pelzer, author of "A Child Called It." Sarah is now realizing her goal in becoming an ambassador for abused children and adult survivors and is currently conducting workshops and seminars throughout the state. Her message of strength over adversity and her story will help counselors, teachers, and other professionals identify signs of abuse and learn ways to establish trust with an abused child.

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APA Reference
, . (2016). Something To Hide…. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 20 Dec 2016
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