Disclaimer: Reading this story could trigger traumatic memories. If this happens, please contact your therapist.
As a casualty of the endemic of childhood sexual abuse, I can tell you firsthand how isolated, lonely and non-trusting it makes you feel as a child and how these life altering symptoms follow me into adulthood. The brain of someone that’s never lived an experience such that I have cannot fathom the horrors of the experience and realize how prevalent this type of child abuse is sadly.
The reality is that even one reported case of childhood sexual abuse is too many, but to think of those that aren’t is disturbing, sickening and downright saddening. This type of abuse will follow most of these children into adulthood like myself and can manifest in many different directions. Victims of childhood sexual abuse are much more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, to struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and to experience major depressive episodes.
To come forth and be open about my story is the hardest thing I have ever done -it has been rewarding, and absolutely necessary, for my mental health, well-being and hope that it helps other victims and may prevent some from becoming victims.
All those years ago I locked away my inner child with all those bad experiences, memories and emotions that he lugged around. I thought I had locked away all the bad and it was to never see the light of day again, but he was screaming loudly in my head, demanding my attention, begging for comfort, compassion, forgiveness and understanding. I couldn’t ignore that younger version of myself any longer.
My voice had been silenced as a victim, both by the horrors of what I had endured and by the actors and their threats of harm and death should I say anything. My innocence as a child was stolen by those I should have been able to trust and respect, my confidence destroyed; and the world became a dangerous place I feared. It is so raw and intense even 20 some years later. When I tried to prepare to tell my story I go through an unending obstacle course of emotions, I am scared, I am anxious and embarrassed. I wonder if anyone will believe me, I wonder if everyone will think I’m just being a selfish attention seeker. I worry I will make people uncomfortable with the weight of my truth and does anyone even care?
I feel all of these things because that is how I have been hardwired because of my past. I was threatened about speaking out about it. I was told no one would believe me if I did. My basic needs as a child were met -food, clothing and housing-but my feelings as child were never a priority. I had no real friends, relationships, hobbies and no hope.
I was victimized by a female cousin and her boyfriend. What began as an innocent time of playing Nintendo quickly turned into a nightmare that would haunt me for all these years. I first was told that I was to tell no one about what was about to happen and If I did I would be physically harmed up to being killed. I was immediately scared and wanted to yell but was paralyzed by the threats of these two that were some 15 years my senior. I stood at the edge of that couch numb as she pulled her pants and underwear to her knees and pulled my head into her crotch and told me to start licking her genitals. I closed my eyes hoping this will all a nightmare and that when I re-opened my eyes it would be gone, but it wasn’t, it was very much real and an event that still gives me the chills and flashbacks. She then released her hand from the back of my head and I thought it was all over but sadly it was just beginning. She pulled my shorts off and grabbed my penis and laughed. It’s a laugh that will never be forgotten. I was then forced to perform oral sex on her boyfriend while she continued to pull on my genitals. I was at this point trembling and couldn’t believe what was going on. It surely couldn’t get worse I kept telling myself, hoping it would just end. Then she said two words that I will never forget, “fuck him”. I was then anally penetrated by her boyfriend, all I remember was the intense pain I felt, and I eventually blacked out. When I “came to” I was alone on the couch, they were nowhere to be seen. I sat trembling and shaking, scared to death. When I was able to, I made my way upstairs and asked if we could go home now. I couldn’t say anything else then and couldn’t say anything again for years. Because I couldn’t speak up, these two walked free from the horrible things they had done to me and never had to pay for their wrongdoings.
Now, 20 plus years later, I am committed to owning my story. I am speaking up, speaking up for myself so I can heal, speaking up for those that need the encouragement to speak up, speaking up so that many children in the future do not have to endure what I have. I’m not speaking up now to put these two in jail, they after all have also had to live all these years knowing full well what they had done. Sure, I’m functioning day to day, some better than others. But functioning is not living and I’m ready to live!
These are the reasons why I have started talking about my childhood sexual abuse:
1) It’s Strengthening.
Sharing is strengthening. Sharing is liberating, and I believe it is necessary. The no way to describe the weight of the childhood trauma or the anxiety and fear that come on the path to recovery. My innocence was stolen from me. I lost all control over the rights of my body and I lost send of myself. When I share my story and un-tell the lies of the past, I take back control of my life. I take back control of my body. I take back control of my feelings. I can now focus on healing from the abuse.
2) It is OK to feel.
I needed to teach myself that feeling again is ok, especially when it is on my terms. As a childhood sex abuse victim, I learned early on the importance of a protective shield from all the physical and emotional feelings. It is a difficult defense mechanism to rewire. I am learning how to feel everything, rather than pushing it way. I realized I am often emotionally detached physically severed from the neck down. As I travel the path of reconnection to myself and my emotions, it’s been uncomfortable and incredibly painful at times, but I keep hearing that the biggest growth comes from the deepest wounds, so I push on.
It is your right too! Speak Up! We might be victims, but it’s time to tell everyone we are Survivors to!