Sunday, February 23, 2014

On Telling: Just to Clarify

My last post was about the ethics of writing about other people.  If you didn't read it, I concluded that most of the time it's best to choose the relationship over a good story, and to ask permission.

I do want to clarify one thing and that is: Sometimes you need to Tell.

There are incidents in my life, family, and history that I've never written about publicly and don't know if I ever will.  But I will say that I've been through hard things and there were some very strong unspoken messages like big banners across my life:
1. We do not have problems.
2. You do not talk about these things.
3. You are very bad if you Tell.
4. In fact, Telling is worse than what's happening.
5. If you don't like what's happening, don't fuss because it's your fault.

Of course, these things have sent tentacles into my adult life that have been harder to root out than a knot of blackberry roots in the rose bed, with branches shooting out underground in all directions.

For example, things can be really really awful, but it doesn't cross my mind to: a) say the words "We have a problem" or b) ask for help.

Paul has at times looked at me in complete disbelief and said, "You know, you could ask for help!"

This always comes as a surprise, like a shaft of sunlight through fog.  OH.  Yeah.  I guess I could, at that. Huh. Who'da thought?

So.  This is my message for you, young woman preyed on by an older man, husband or wife covering up your spouse's abuse, anyone covering for someone's addiction, anyone at the mercy of someone else's sin, anyone in the middle of frightening, silent chaos.

You need to Tell.

This is a problem.  It isn't your fault.  It's ok to string these words together and say them: We have a problem.  I need help.

Not on a blog, not in front of the church.  But to someone who can do something about it.  Yes, even your local law enforcement person.

I keep reading accounts of people who finally get up the courage to tell, and aren't believed.  I suspect God has a special judgment for those who abuse their authority by not believing the ones who come to them for help, or who tell them it's their own fault, or who tell them the Telling is worse than the sin against them.

In fact, I was in a traumatic situation some time ago where I tried to Tell and was silenced and condemned so thoroughly and quickly it still astonishes me.  It was all my fault, see, because I Told.  I don't have much recourse, really, at this point, and haven't felt that the time was right to talk or write about it publicly.  I do have a few supportive people who are there for me now and if I ever Tell again.

I think there are times when publicly Telling is right: when the perpetrators are or were in a public position that affects many people, and there is a systemic hiding of evil after repeated attempts to bring repentance privately, and others are still in danger.

But my advice for you, suffering and powerless, is to find the words to Tell.  Find one kind person.  Tell them.  And may God have mercy and let you be heard.


  1. These are good and important words.

  2. Thank you for writing this.

  3. And all the people said, "Amen." Or should have, if they didn't!

  4. Very well said, Dorcas. Thank you for this! Sis Rebecca

  5. Dorcas, my friend Donna linked this on her Facebook. I wrote a related post a while back here:

  6. I did Tell and God set me free! I have never been the same....Satan's lies thrive in darkness and silence.....Dorcas, thank you for writing this. I pray someone will be set free because of this post. And thank you, Mom and Dad for believing me!

  7. Ah, telling the truth. In abusive families and situations we find ourselves not even considering the option. Thank you for reminding me how hard won speaking the truth out loud and with force has been. Sometimes truth telling starts out with opening the mouth and very little sound. Keep trying, keep practicing, keep knocking on doors until someone listens.

  8. Bless you for saying this. I wish someone had said it to me many, many years ago. Fortunately I have grown to a place I can help others who are needing to Tell.

  9. Thank-you for sharing this post. Just today a friend of mine was brave enough to TELL! And reading this helped me know how to help her. Thanks again.

  10. Well said, on both posts.