The Collision of the Personal and the Professional

Someone once told me that at some point our personal and professional lives are bound to collide. I chose to believe that it is possible – although often times difficult – to keep the two separated. My personal and professional lives collided recently, and I am forever changed.

Last Sunday evening I was talking with a person that I have long considered a close friend. I endured the displeasure of listening to him speak words that enraged me and caused feelings of physical illness with the hope that I might be able shift his thinking. However, the impossibility of sparking any change became evident when he made statements that revealed the distance that exists between our core values.

Here is some of what he said:

  • Children are sexually abused because of flaws in their characters that are targeted by sexual predators
  • Children are sexually abused because they are not strong, grounded individuals
  • Children are sexually abused because they come from families that are not strong or stable and the parents of these children are ultimately responsible for the abuse
  • Children must bear a share of the responsibility when they are sexually abused, and that responsibility is increased when they choose not to disclose the abuse immediately
  • Studies need to be conducted to determine the “type” of child that becomes a victim of sexual abuse

The shock of these words coming from someone I held as a friend has still not worn off. No matter how much evidence I offered to counter his arguments he continued to assert his beliefs – his very dangerous beliefs. He shamelessly minimized the criminal responsibility of anyone who harms a child. As a parent, he refused to recognize the fact that any child – according to reported statistics 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 3 girls by the time they are 18 years old – could become a victim of sexual violence. Moreover, he displayed the weakness of his character when he repeatedly stated that the most vulnerable in our society should be held responsible when they are sexually abused.

Children are sexually abused because they are vulnerable. The people children trust and love abuse them. People in positions of trust, power, and authority abuse children. Family members abuse children. Family friends abuse children. Strangers abuse children. The trauma of sexual abuse has lifelong effects and sexually abused children are NEVER responsible for the abuse.

I know this because I am a sexual abuse survivor.

The person I had this conversation with did not know that I am a survivor because it is not information I often disclose in my personal life. In my personal life, I talk around the edges of sexual abuse. This collision between my personal and professional lives has made me realize that hiding behind my work while shrouding my personal life in secrecy are no longer options. I cannot truly advocate on behalf of survivors of sexual violence if I cannot be truthful about who I am in all areas of my life because I choose to do this work because I am survivor. Unfortunately, as this experience shows, a part of this work is trying to eliminate the misinformation and myths that exist about sexual abuse and sexual abuse survivors.

Because of this person’s beliefs I can no longer maintain our friendship, but I am walking away with renewed purpose and the knowledge that I am stronger without it.

T. Bennett
Survivors Guide


Always remember that you may have been victimized by sexual violence, but by searching for help you have started your healing.

Survivors Guide

4 thoughts on “The Collision of the Personal and the Professional

  1. You are so much better off without a person like that in your life. It is shocking that someone would say those things but the truth is that there are far too many out there that do feel that way and they tell people those toxic thoughts…and it just takes one child hearing these words to spread it to all the children they know and many of those children have been or will be abused and then they have this horrible thought in their head that this grown up said in the presence of a child who then told everyone they know that it is the fault of the child. That child tehn has to live with that guilt and feeling that maybe it really is their fault and that trauma compounds. I am so sorry that you had to learn this about your friend.

    Keep fighting the good fight!

    Love and light,

    Lucky Star

    • Thanks for the support.
      Your point about what children may internalize without being conscious of it is one of the dangers that immediately came to mind during the conversation. As adults we seem to forget that children are very perceptive and sometimes take on more than their share of blame for situations beyond their control.
      This was an unfortunate incident but as my last act of friendship to this person I have sent them a copy of this article. Hopefully seeing what he said in black and white will have an effect on him.

      Thanks again,

  2. This is why I keep my circle small and don’t trust because at some point most people reveal that they are bigoted idiots with narrow minds and outdated beliefs. Luckily most can be weeded out early on as they say things that often give us a glimpse into their thinking but it’s truly a shock when they hide it well until a deep discussion comes up where who you thought they were is shattered. This man will get a surprise when one of his children comes to him at age 50 to tell him they had not only been a victim but never told him because they knew how he thinks. He will have some explaining and apologising to do and/or will no longer have that adult child in his life. Sadly according to stats this is more likely than not to really happen. As the mom of a survivor I have had to sit while people tell me kids get molested because the guys wife/gf didn’t put out enough etc. I know how it feels to sit knowing you have personal experience and wanting to bark “I know buddy, been there done that, you haven’t so don’t speak about sh** you know nothing about” but knowing you can’t as they are far from a safe person to disclose your past to. So upsetting! I’m sorry this happened but at least you know you needed to get this person out of your life. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    • Joeann,
      Thanks for your support.
      I can see your perspective on keeping a small circle of trusted friends but I believe sometimes you need to step out of your comfort zone to grow.
      As horrible as this situation was I am positive that I will grow from it. I also believe that the only way we can eliminate some of the myths you have highlighted is by facing them head on.
      I may have lost a friend but my determination has not been affected.

      Thanks again,

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