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Sienna Wagnon Discusses Speaking Out and Speaking Up: Naming Our Abusers


One of the most important things survivors of abuse can do is stay connected with support groups. Being a survivor can be lonely, but the last thing you want to do is isolate. 

Without naming your abuser, people often have a hard time imagining and empathizing. Unfortunately, a victim takes the responsibility of explaining the abuse and dynamics of the relationship while the abuser would prefer the victim keeps silent and protects their bad behavior.  

When you take the step to name your abuser publicly, be sure you are safe and speak the truth. You will realize this will contribute to healing and alleviating shame you are feeling that should be directed toward the abuser. 

The Cycle of Violence

For those who have gone through the cycle of abuse and domestic violence, sharing that you were abused is actually one of the hardest parts leading to the most vulnerable feelings. Merley saying or typing those words comes at a cost, and that is unfortunate for those already enduring public scrutiny. 

People usually want to know the whole story before they make the decision to believe you, especially if they know the abuser and have had positive experiences with them. So, you might be asking yourself what the benefits of naming your abuser are. 

The Advantages of Naming Your Abuser

The most obvious reason is justice. There’s no way an abuser can be punished without being identified. Not to mention informing other potential partners. Another reason for the survivor to name their abuser is the shift in power. Abuse is about power. Calling out the abuser changes the dynamic of the relationship. Survivors take back their power by openly naming the abuser and their destructive behavior. 

Some survivors find that taking their power back is helpful for processing trauma. It takes a lot of strength to speak out against abuse. Not to mention, letting go of “a secret.” Concealing information can feel like you’re keeping a secret and keeping this secret can create feelings of shame. A victim must remember they are not the person with the characteristics to harm another. The abuser is. 

Revealing the details of the abuse can help some survivors confirm that the abuse was indeed not their fault. It’s easy to oscillate between blaming yourself and your abuser. By naming your abuser, you highlight a pattern that others can now trace. Authorities will be able to make connections about this person and other domestic abuse reports if needed. Potential abusers who feel the need to overpower others should understand that they are taking a risk in engaging in abusive behavior. 

Seek Help Before Going Public 

Before survivors decide to go public with the abuser’s name, they should make sure they’re ready to address those who might doubt their experience. This is known as victim blaming or shaming. 

Approaching the situation with information and expert advice is the best way to address all aspects of naming your abuser. Speaking to the police or therapist can often re traumatize survivors. So, you can imagine the repercussions of recounting your story to those that aren’t qualified professionals. Be ready and have clear reasons for what you want to accomplish when naming your abuser.  

For more information, you can reach Sienna through her social media pages: 

Sienna (@sienna_wagnon) • Instagram photos and videos