I hold a lot of secrets – other people’s secrets. I must look trustworthy or something, and I don’t spill what someone tells me in confidence. The only time I screw up is if I don’t realize it’s supposed to be secret. For instance, friend A got laid off. I told mutual friend B, who spread the news to other mutual friends. Friend A told me a month later that she still hadn’t told anyone about her work situation. Huh?! How do you expect to find another job if nobody knows you need one? Don’t you trust your friends enough to support you through difficult times? Aren’t you lying to friends when you meet for dinner when you can’t afford to eat out?
In my opinion, Friend A put me in an awkward situation by not telling me her work status was a state secret. I had to retrace the trail of well-meaning friends and say “act surprised when she tells you”, which makes me feel like I was forced into a type of lie. Friend A didn’t tell anyone for about 6 months. That level of secret keeping about job status would’ve never occurred to me. I absolve myself for that faux pas.
A note of caution here, explicit language follows…
Friend A’s secret was important to her, but for secret keeping, it’s mere comic relief. Sure, being out of a job is important, but keeping it secret isn’t. The majority of real secrets often fall under sexual violence, and victims are frequently the ones who hold those secrets most closely to their chests. The statistics for rape are incredible. http://www.rainn.org/statistics Of course it’s hard to know whether these figures are accurate because many people never report the crime. Of all the people who have told me about getting molested, none have reported it to the police. In addition, it isn’t just a woman problem. Lots of boys are raped too, and it’s even harder for men to admit that they were victimized.
Part of the problem with this kind of crime is that the victims often feel they deserved it. They were in the wrong place, or wearing the wrong thing, or didn’t say no good enough, or even enjoyed the attention, or in the case of men, might’ve gotten a hard-on. It doesn’t matter that fear and/or contact can give a guy an erection, the victim feels even more tainted and wrong. So victims keep the secret, which leaves criminals free to mess up more people’s lives. Society reinforces this silence by saying we should only talk about pleasant things, or how can you ruin the life of Uncle, Dad, Brother, Cousin, Neighbor, Friend with your unprovable allegations.
If it has happened to you, get help. Tell someone. We tell children to tell someone if it happens to them, and it’s true for grown-ups too. Holding those kinds of secrets can corrode you from the inside out. And remember, the only one at fault for this is the criminal. Nothing you did can justify what they did. It’s not your fault.