Until Sunday evening at the Oscars I had not heard Lady Gaga sing “Till it happens to you.” I loved the beauty, the discipline, the power, the guts, and the defiance that went into her performance. Incredibly moving.

I loved the backstory about what she was like, pre-performance, with the survivors of sexual assault who joined her on stage later as a part of the performance. I loved their capacity to just be in their sea of emotions: fear, courage, anger, sorrow, guts …and I’m sure, for some, love. And I was so glad for the love and support that poured out for them, from the VP, from the celebs in the audience, from their own unknowing family members. Beautiful. Humanity at it’s best.

There’s another story out here for survivors, though. And it’s pretty complicated story. The “easy” story is to see offenders as bad and survivors as good. That is clearly true in plenty of situations.

But for many survivors it’s not quite that simple. Most survivors will never stand on a stage with other survivors, hands held together in solidarity with each other and against their offenders.

Why? Because they’re not “against” their offenders. Because their offender is family.

What do you do when you love your offender? Not in a sick way. No, in the way that reflects the absolute best of humanity: the capacity to love, and understand, and forgive an offender.

Telling one’s story in that situation requires a deep and sophisticated audience, the kind of audience that doesn’t see black and white, good and bad. The kind of audience that has the capacity, like the survivor, to love and understand the offender… …in spite of.

Many do not have that kind of audience.

Dr. Brené Brown defines courage as authentically telling our story, what we feel and what we have experienced. In my 30+ years of being a clinical psychologist I can tell you with total certainty that the survivors I have known aren’t keeping their stories to themselves out of gutlessness. They keep it to themselves out of love.

The choice to love creates a real problem for them because most need to reveal to heal.

And yet if they reveal to an audience (husband, siblings, parents, co-workers) who live in black-and-white and who see damage and not guts, then it is bad for the survivor. Many families do not want any discussion of this “dirty family laundry.” “It’s in the past. Move on.”

Many survivors don’t need you to hate their offenders. They need you to get it that in spite of being sexually abused they became good people. They need you to get it that they ACTIVELY chose to contribute, to forgive, to not hate. They need you get it that, in fact, they DID move on from the past. The proof is that they still love, they still try, they still try to keep the family together. They need you to know that moving on doesn’t happen because there’s no pain; it happens because they have chosen to bear the pain, and for most, they have chosen to bear the pain in silence. As an added bonus, they would love it if you would try to understand that sometimes they will crumble under the pain and do ugly stuff. Even so, whatever ugly they do, it’s probably not as ugly as what was done to them.

None that I have ever met expected a standing ovation. But they deserve one, don’t you think?