This was initially intended to be a question entitled "How do you tell someone something that you've been hiding for a long time?" But it got to the point where I could no longer decrease the characters without cutting out essential information. So I decided not to bother. If you have an answer to the question, it would still be much appreciated. Otherwise, react however you wish.
For some background, I grew up in a very toxic household. My parents were violent and manipulative with my brothers and I, and it effects each of us differently. In my case, that means severe anxiety and social anxiety, and a very strong aversion to loud noises. I'm 20 years old and I still jump at the sound of the door opening.
The violence stopped when I was about twelve. My father ended up getting help for his anger issues, not because he was hurting us, but because he just wasn't happy. But then my parents lied about it ever occurring in the first place. They would say that I imagined it, or that I was just saying it to hurt them. My mother went as far as inspecting my room for drugs that we both knew I wasn't using. My brother who is close to my age and actually remembered it didn't want to talk about it, which is understandable. I thought that I was going insane. I knew that my family had a history of schizophrenia, and I spent years believing that I was losing my grip on reality. My parents refused to let me see a psychologist. I later found proof that what I remembered was real, and I didn't want to believe it. I would rather believe that I was insane, than admit to myself what my parents, who were supposed to love and protect me, had done. I tried to deny it until I no longer could, and it resulted in me having a mental breakdown my junior year of high school.
I also had to deal with the effects on my brother. I'm the oldest by two years, and for a long time I felt like it was my fault that my brother was hurt. He became violent for a time as well, and would hold knives to the throat of our baby brother. My parents wouldn't do anything about it, as they denied that there was any problem, so I would step in, and would often end up at the sharp end of a blade.
The point it, it's something effects my behavior every moment of every day. It's also something that I don't typically talk about. It's not exactly light conversation, but also because I don't want anyone to report my parents. My youngest brother is still a minor, and they're better with him. He is happy, and he has a stable living condition. I can't take that away, and if that means postponing my own recovery by bottling it up for a few more years, so be it.
I've told a few friends, usually in a very long and emotional conversation that goes until about 3 am, but I'm more likely to tell someone who I know has a strained relationship with their own parents than someone who gets along with theirs, even if I generally trust the latter person more. It's easier to tell someone who I know will understand, at least a little.
I've been thinking lately though, and most of my very close friends know by now, except for one, who happens to be one of the closest, and who I've known for a long time. I just feel like it's something that he should know. I feel like by not telling him I'm being secretive. It's also complicated by the fact that pretty much everyone says he's romantically interested in me (or they assume that we're already dating), and that while once I was opposed to the idea, I'm not so sure anymore.
Obviously he knows that I struggle with anxiety. Everyone knows that, as the social aspect makes it hard to hide. Most people assume it's just the way I am. He also knows that I'm very concerned with child welfare issues, and child abuse in particular. I'm pretty sure he just lumps that in with me liking kids. Either that or he just hasn't pried about it. He knows that I had a breakdown in high school, because I was in denial about something, but I haven't told him what it was.
The main reason that I haven't told him is that I know he practically worships his own parents, and not without reason. They're wonderful people. I don't think he would understand. I've talked with him hypothetically about people who have done similar things to what my parents did, and in most cases he finds them absolutely unforgivable. I'm still very close with my parents, and I don't blame them for what happened. They've never apologized for what they did, and they still do bad things sometimes, but they're my parents and I love them despite the fact that they've done irreparable damage. Things are getting better now, slowly. I want to be close to them, and I don't know if he would be okay with that, knowing what they've done, and knowing that by maintaining a relationship with them I continue to make myself vulnerable to people who are still more than capable of hurting me.
I worry that he would either become angry with my parents and no longer be able to be civil with them, or that he would feel the need to treat me like I'm made of glass. From my experience, those are the common reactions of people who are protective over me finding out about something that hurt me, let alone something as big as what I'm considering telling. Both examples usually result in me cutting off my relationship with that person.
I also feel like it would be wrong to complain about my physically healthy parents, knowing that he spent most of his childhood not knowing if his mother would live another year, and that because of it he struggles with his own mental health.