Living in Denial Blog -- Featured Post
The Stranger Beside Me: A Wife's Struggle to Survive a Sexual Abuse Victim in Denial, Part One
By: Katy Cusumano
Looks can be deceiving.
In part one of this series, Katy shares what it was like to be married to a man who, unbeknownst to her, was a survivor of childhood sexual abuse; one still in denial of his trauma and its effects.
I remember heavy rain pounding the car, making it hard to hear, and darkness encompassing my fiance and me, so that we could barely discern one another's silhouettes as we sat in his car on-campus.
I was a 23-year-old timid, people-pleaser, engaged to marry a man 10 years my senior, who was strong, protective and firmly in control. I found myself almost shouting to be heard, as much from the rain outside as from his refusal to hear me. Something in our relationship was not right. That was the message I was desperate to convey. I needed him to let me go; I couldn't go through with our wedding.
Even now, when I look back on the nearly six years that followed, that pounding darkness became a metaphor for an even deeper, more oppressive experience I would endure by failing to make myself and my choice heard that night .
David Wagner is living the life: Family man. Millionaire. And always, the funniest guy in the room. But he has one more thing the world can't see...a secret, powerful enough to derail it all.
Based on a true story.
Denial tells the story a life lived in the shadow of an abusive past and the mounting cost to Wagner's relationships, well-being, achievements and sense of self.
Denial shines much-needed light on the "open secret" of sexual abuse by giving a voice to victims that will ignite your compassion for the 60 million male and female survivors in the U.S., while encouraging them to take the first, brave step to stop living in denial by speaking their truths.
Denial exposes the lies planted in the hearts of many survivors.
"It's my fault." The most insidious lie for any survivor is that she or he somehow caused or contributed to the abuse. Self-blame fosters shame, denial and self-contempt, which inevitably lead to despair. This lie -- more than any other -- sustains the abuser's power over victims even into adulthood, while grossly mischaracterizing the violent crime committed against them.
- "Intimacy is the enemy." Their eyes opened prematurely to the dangerous world around them, survivors often misidentify intimacy as the enemy, rejecting healthy love relationships for unhealthy ones, lashing out at those they love out of misplaced self-protection, and ultimately derailing themselves from the path to true healing.
- "Where was God?" In addition to not trusting others with their vulnerability, survivors also struggle with trust in their spiritual relationship as well, struggling with how a loving God could turn his back on innocent children in the grip of evil.
100 Book Club Countdown
Sexual abuse and sexual assault are in the headlines...again. By adding Denial to your book club's reading list -- and scheduling a live discussion with author Nanette Kirsch -- your book club can enter a timely and important discussion intended to broaden our understanding around the suffering of victims, the cost of living in denial and the opportunity to ensure this open secret remains a secret no more.
Denial gives a voice to victims through the story of one man's life, lived in the shadow of an abusive past. It approaches the topic sensitively and respectfully, yet never shies away from the important, if difficult, truths to be learned.
Reserve your club's spot today:
Meet the Author
Meet author Nanette Kirsch and learn more about where her passions and her work intersect.
Learn how you can begin a crucial conversation in your community, group, organization or church...one that can make a difference in the lives of survivors you know, as well as those you don't know about, and begin a positive shift in how we respond to childhood sexual abuse in our communities and society.
Consider hosting a fund-raising event for a non-profit that serves survivors' needs and/or promotes prevention/awareness of childhood sexual abuse.