This is my story. Today I am 31. Up until the abuse started I had a great relationship with my parents. I was attached to my mom. I was called a daddy’s girl, I have 1 brother which is 3 years older than me. We lived in small country towns. Which was how my whole family lived. I feel that my brother was never really there for me which I could of used, specialy since he had too been sexualy assaulted, but doesn’t talk about it. Very sad story there. Now theis days we are distant to each other.
I felt so little and felt like crawling into a hole in the ground and never coming out.
The pain of my sexual abuse is horrifying and intense. I know the abuse went on for 2 years at least, (not sure exactly what my age was when it all started) Mid 90s I know. My abusers were males first cousins to me, they were brothers. They are in my Mothers side. All my aunt’s and uncles was suspicious of how the boys were, heard stories from their own kids. A year into “it” I had talked to my close friends about getting touched in my privates. They were twin sisters almost two years older than me, which were first cousins to my abusers on there dads side. They got mad at me and started a fight over it and told me that its not nice to make up lies… I felt so little and felt like crawling into a hole in the ground and never coming out. So at this time they are the only people I came out and told until I got a little older.
My early teens is when I told my mom
My early teens is when I came out and told my mom not Dad. It was a very big deal for me for my mom to take the right steps to help me, I was counting on her. We had a girls night out and I broke down in her car outside of pizza Hut and was sure she was going to help. My parents and my abusers parents were planing a vacation for the families I wanted to let my mom know that I didn’t feel comfortable going with the two boys.That’s how I came out to my mom.
I wish I really knew if she understood
Vacation was coming up and my Mom for some dumb reason which to me didn’t seem like all that great of idea, gave me a two sentence not a dress to them and signed by her telling them to leave me alone and let me enjoy my vacation. To this day I wish I really knew if she understood what I was telling her like it wasn’t a bullying making fun of kind of thing. Which I did get bullied in school by classmates so maybe she thought that’s what I was talking about. My Dad was never aware of any of this story and I still don’t believe he knows. My parents split up the day after I turned 21 and divorced later on. Both remarried.
My pain and stuggkea are very real and it caused me a big chunk of my life as I never payed attention in school and feel that never got the education I needed. The School was small and graduated in 2005, but I wish I wouldn’t of. I was put into special education classes when I was in 3rd grade but i still had attention problems. The teachers werent all that up on teaching very good or even caring. The school consolidation in 2009.
I now have a family of my own with two kids. I have a boyfriend I’ve been with for 13 years.
What I want others to know or understand
PARENTS listen to your kids well and ask questions if needed PLEASE and THANK YOU
My grandmother told me once, “I just don’t understand why you are so hell bent on destroying yourself.” I wasn’t either. I didn’t know why I would drink myself to oblivion, keep company with every abusive asshole that ever entered my path, ran around on empty, punishing myself. I thought I hated myself. I thought I hated myself but I didn’t know why I did. There was something in me that I was trying so hard to destroy and from the outside looking in, it did look like I was trying to destroy myself.
The voice that told me I loved myself…was not very strong.
But in those rare quiet moments in my life, where it was just me and the stars, I knew I loved myself. I didn’t want to die and I didn’t want to keep doing what I was doing. But I didn’t know why I was doing it, all I knew was that there was something in me I wanted to annihilate. The voice that told me I loved myself, the voice that told me it was somehow all going to be ok was not very strong. In fact, most of the time I couldn’t feel it or hear it at all. But sometimes, in those quiet moments under the stars, I could hear it. “It’s going to be OK.” “You are loved.” I would hear it for a very small moment and then it would go away. I’d go back to trying to destroy that invisible thing that I thought was me. And as the years dragged on, I got tired. The pain was becoming bigger and bigger; in destroying myself, I was destroying my life. Everything in my life from my possessions to my children were lost and when I lost it all, that invisible thing inside me grew so huge that I went to some extreme measures to destroy it. And one night, as I laid on the bathroom floor, barely able to move, I realized whatever it was that I was trying to destroy was only getting stronger. I was the one being destroyed. I didn’t know how I was going to do it. I didn’t even know if it could be done. But I told myself I had to stop.
I surrendered. I went to rehab.
On September 11, 2016 I made a choice that changed my life forever. I surrendered. I stopped fighting the actual things that could help me. I went to rehab. Therapy. A mental health professional. Group therapy. I realized that it was never myself I was trying to destroy at all. I was trying to kill the pain. The pain I carried in me, I was trying to destroy it. I was extremely misguided in how I was going about it though. I was trying to destroy the pain with things that were only creating more pain. The pain of being molested by two of my mother’s husbands. The pain of her calling me a liar my entire childhood when I talked about it. The pain of her constant abuse. The beatings, the emotional and verbal abuse. The pain from her multiple husbands and boyfriends, one in particular. Joe, the most evil and distraught human being I have ever encountered. He enjoyed beating my sisters and me, he enjoyed molesting me, enjoyed terrifying me. He was methodical and sadistic in his abuse. He was extremely violent. Throwing me down and kicking me in the ribs kind of violent. My mother would just sit and watch and as I screamed, she’d snap her fingers at me to be quiet. If I ever expressed pain or anger over how they treated me, they told me I deserved it. My mother and Joe were so abusive that in any normal area of the world, they’d have both gone to prison. But we’re in West Texas and this was 20 years ago. Plus, I was way too scared to say anything until after she took off to Arizona and he was out of the picture.
I never realized how internalizing all of this pain affected me until I started getting better. I learned that I had been going about it all wrong. Trying to kill the pain by doing things that hurt me only made the pain worse. Trying to kill the pain period was not ever going to work. I had to acknowledge the pain by loving myself.
The only way to heal was to start loving myself.
Not destroying myself. Going to rehab was the first step and as life went on, loving myself became a series of things I did every day. Going to the gym. Eating well. Setting boundaries with people and getting rid of the toxic people in my life. Standing up for myself. Making choices every day that were good for me and my life. Learning to love myself definitely has not been easy. A lot of people in my life, sadly, the people who should be MOST supportive, didn’t know how to respond to me no longer being a hot mess. When they saw me start school, get a good job, start living my life in a healthy and happy way, I think they no longer understood their roles in my life. A lot of their self esteem came from judging me and putting me down when my life was chaos, and without that, I think they didn’t know who they were in my life. Imagine watching a relative struggle for years, and in that time, you aren’t supportive or a friend, but instead, you kick them when they’re down and talk about how amazing you are for not being like that. And then that relative gets it together and you can’t do that anymore. You’d look pretty stupid first of all. And you’d definitely look like an a**hole. I am a forgiving soul however, and I was ready to forgive. But some people in my family just totally wrote me off once they couldn’t put me down anymore. And so that was hard. But it’s OK. Those are their issues, not mine.
It was hard setting boundaries…
with people in my family because for my entire life, they grew accustomed to certain ways of treating me and talking to me. At first my family resisted a lot of my boundaries, but in time, the ones who truly love me came to respect the boundaries. Rebuilding the relationships with my children hasn’t been easy. I’ve had to take responsibility for a lot of things I did when they were little that weren’t fair to them. I put them through things I shouldn’t have. Coming to terms with the fact that I hurt my children when my mom caused me so much pain was really hard. Part of healing pain is acknowledging my past mistakes as well and there were a lot of them. So that wasn’t easy. So in healing there is still lots of pain. In healing however, some amazing things happened. I gained some friends, some real, true, amazing friends, to help me through this process. I learned how to be a good friend myself. I have learned empathy, compassion, humility. I have discovered aspects of myself that I truly love. I have formed a stronger connection with the creator, and that little voice that I used to barely be able to hear is now much stronger (well, I hear it better, it was always there) and I know exactly where to find it if I feel lost. (Meditation) That voice I used to barely be able to hear is what I consider to be my true self. We all have it. And now that I am actively loving myself, I am able to hear that voice loud and clear most of the time. Last night I did a meditation on gratitude. When I envisioned a person I was grateful for, I envisioned my grandfather. (There are many people I am grateful for but he is who came to mind first.) And when the guide told me to envision an experience I was grateful for, the first thing that came to mind was the absolute worst time of my life: after the kids left and I went supernova on trying to destroy the pain/myself. Why? Because that’s what broke me. That’s what absolutely destroyed me. That’s what took my self-destruction to a whole new level, and I had to make a choice: die or stop. Die or live.
I chose to live.
I truly had been absolutely destroyed. But it was because of that destruction I was able to rise from the ashes as a better version of my true self. I was just broken pieces, shattered pieces of this pain, that pain, scattered all over the dirt. And inside of whatever it was that broke was a light, a whole light, that was now free. That little voice that used to guide me when I was alone, that once free, I could hear better and better. I am so grateful I broke so that I could be free.
First abuse – I was barely 3 years old….a foster home with I don’t even remember how many boys. I was barely 20 and a mom of twins. One child was epileptic and both had learning issues. My family wasn’t as supportive as they could be, and I was pregnant again. Only there’s a slight change this time – I might not be sure of the father, only because I was no longer compliant for sexual exploitation anymore. So he would take the instant gratification and go.
I literally dreamed of her and knew all about her. Even before they could tell what sex! But what if she was his? Would I reject her? Would I love her? What if she’s not his? What if she’s my boyfriends? I picked a family who made all kinds of promises, but they cut me out . She was my boyfriend’s baby but I couldn’t tell everyone. I couldn’t find my voice. I couldn’t fight for myself as usual.
I gave away my daughter over sexual abuse. I spent years messing up everything not knowing the damage I was hiding! I struggle in parenting but I’m learning to not only cope but help others see this cycle. I don’t think I will ever be with a man again. I’m 39 and still can not hold a relationship. I may well be poisoned against them permanently. But getting better is my main focus – For my kids and for others who survived the same.
What I want others to know
Getting help and understanding the truth.
This stuff causes victims to feel they deserved it or don’t deserve better – That’s not true!
Guilt and shame are not for you to hold on to. Tell your story until you feel better. And help someone else do the same. This stuff can last a lifetime, and it’s ok to reach out.
After reading the stories of others I get triggers that bring memories of certain traumatic experiences. When I was in High School, a guy I had met came to my house one night. My mother was not home. I never imagined what was about to happen. I let him in the door he backed me into my bedroom. He was a pretty big guy that had played football in school. He got on top on me and raped me. I fought and cried as I fell between the bed and the wall. The next morning I went to school with a black eye. The young man I was dating was enraged. He got some of his friends together to go find this guy. They didn’t find him. The next time I saw him was in the hospital I worked at, about 30 years later. I saw his name and asked a nurse to to take care of him. He had to return for another procedure. I prayed and went in to his room, the door was left open. He evidently didn’t recognize me, which I was thankful for. I felt I definitely was a stronger woman now.
Throughout my life I found myself in very vulnerable situations. I wanted to believe the best in people, especially men. I’m finally out of staying away from those situations. I tell my granddaughter and any young women to always stay in groups with girls, if boys are involved. I only hope that they heed my advice.
I had buried the memory of the incident. It only came rushing back into my mind when someone sent a Facebook suggestion that I be his friend. My immediate visceral response was an unequivocal NO.
I reached out to a trusted friend – someone who I had gone through life coach training with and who I knew it was safe to be vulnerable with. I told her my story of when I was about 7 and said, “He molested me, or, well, he touched me inappropriately.” She kindly and firmly told me, “That is molestation.”
I’m glad she brought my attention to the word choice. I guess I was trying to make light of it, to give the guy the benefit of the doubt, to lessen what happened to me. He is a relative – not close – but I was taught in many ways not to rock the boat,not to air the family’s secrets, and that “blood is thicker than water.”
A Compassionate Witness
By calling my experience what it was, that it was indeed molestation, I was able to recognize it was abuse. It also helped me understand why my initial reaction was fear and avoidance.
For me, it was healing to have a compassionate witness who recognized and validated my experience. Later, when I shared with another family member, the reaction was not so positive, and it made me even more grateful for my friend who was able to hold space for me to grieve and who believed me.
Warning: May contain triggers for survivors of childhood sexual abuse
It’s a fog, but I believe it started at 3yrs. I remember 3 distinct occasions where I was raped by the man who my mother had a relationship with. However, I believe that it happened regularly.
I didn’t understand at the time what was going on, but as I grew older I read and I understood what it was. Books were always my escape. At around 8, was when I knew what he was doing to me. I lived in constant fear, of men being alone with them. I was always anticipating the moment. That he would force himself on me, have his pleasure and then leave. One of the occasion, he was playing a game with my friends and I, where they were getting rides from him. I was reluctant to have close contact with him but being a child it look fun. I eventually joined and after two goes, he forced himself inside of me and whispered in my ear, “Where you feel you going, I was waiting for you.” I immediately froze, went numb and my mind went blank, I strared into space,diassocating myself from what was happening as I always did until he was finished, he let me go and I just drifted off, everyone around oblivious to what just happened. I remember cramps in stomach and blood on my underwear. I never told anyone about this day.
A Lasting Scar
I’m 30 now. It is my belief that my mom knew, but she was powerless as he would physically abuse her as well. To this day, it affects our relationship. I try to understand given her situation she was powerless, but at the same time how could she have allowed it, for so many years. How could she have known and done nothing.
To this day, it affects me. I’m yet to be in a healthy relationship as my marriage ended due to physical and emotional abuse. I am fearful to leave my son in anyone’s company. I don’t want what happened to me to happen to him. I’m in a constant state of stress and fear. However I try my best every day. The mental, physical, sexual and emotional abuse is a scar for life, that no one can deny.
What I Want Others To Know
Please, seek help and be strong enough to leave any form of abusive relationship. Not only intimate relationships, but any that threatens your self esteem and your worth. If you have children it is best to leave these situations as these cycle tend to repeat themselves. No one wants that for thier children.
Navigating through life’s adult challenges can be difficult enough, let alone if you are the survivor of childhood sexual abuse (CSA). The effects of CSA can be long-term, and can be physical, emotional, and mental in nature.1 Many of these effects can impact the way a survivor creates and maintains relationships, how they are able to parent their own children, and how they navigate their own personal health care needs.
Childhood sexual abuse can impact many aspects of life
Survivors of CSA may also be less likely to attain higher levels of education, higher salaries, and better, more fulfilling jobs when compared to their non-abused peers.2,3 This may be due to feelings of low self-worth or self-confidence, physical health issues, such as chronic fatigue or chronic pain, or issues regarding mental health, including severe anxiety or depression. Triggersmay be everywhere for adult survivors, and may be present in common experiences including routine examinations at the doctor’s office, being intimate with another individual, or even in regular parenting or childcare experiences, such as changing diapers, breastfeeding, or showing children positive affection.
Every experience is unique, and there are resources that can help
It’s important to remember that there is no specific way a survivor of CSA should be expected to navigate their adult life. Everyone’s triggers, experiences, and personal narratives will be incredibly different, and can lead to different life paths and events. However, something that is common to all adult survivors of CSA is that no matter how long ago the abuse was, the characteristics of the abuse, or where you’re at in life now, there is always time and resources available to help. Whether it’s in finding a job, learning how to navigate higher education options, exploring a healthy, intimate relationship, and more, there are organizations and allies out there to assist you in whatever you may need. Although it may be the hardest step, disclosing your history, in as much or as little detail as you need, may be a great place to start in order to access help in navigating whatever you’re struggling with.
As always, life will present its challenges to everyone, regardless of their past abuse history. However, it is important to watch for signs (in yourself or in a loved one) of unhealthy coping behaviors. In some cases, professional support may be needed, and can take the form of medication, therapy, counseling, support groups and more.Sign up to receive updates from Gravity Network!
Hall M, Hall J. The long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse: Counseling implications. American Counseling Association. https://www.counseling.org/docs/disaster-and-trauma_sexual-abuse/long-term-effects-of-childhood-sexual-abuse.pdf?sfvrsn=2. Published 2011. Accessed January 5, 2018.
Zielinski DS. Long-term socioeconomic impact of child abuse and neglect: Implications for Policy. Purdue University, College of Health and Human Sciences. https://www.purdue.edu/hhs/hdfs/fii/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/s_nmfis02c03.pdf. Accessed January 5, 2018.
Hardner K, Wolf MR, Rinfrette ES. Examining the relationship between higher educational attainment, trauma symptoms, and internalizing behaviors in child sexual abuse survivors. Child Abuse Negl. 23 Oct 2017. Abstract available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29074261 Accessed January 5, 2018.
No matter where an individual is at in their healing process, self-care can help manage the effects of living as an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse (CSA). Self-care involves putting your own needs first and participating in activities that make you happy. It also involves practicing healthy behaviors and surrounding yourself with individuals that support you and contribute to your positivity. Self-care can be physical or emotional in nature, and every individual’s self-care practices will be different.1
Physical self-care involves keeping your body in the best condition you can, in order to be ready for whatever comes next. Strong physical health can help you recover from being emotionally drained and may lead to a variety of other health benefits.
There are many examples of self-care
Good sleep: Getting adequate amounts of sleep can help your body recharge and be strong for the next hurdle that you may need to face. Getting to bed early and following a routine may help lead to better overall sleep patterns and quality.
Eating well: The food we eat provides us with our fuel. Eating a diet full of fruits and vegetables as opposed to lots of processed foods and sugars will help keep our energy levels up and our bodies in good condition.
Exercise: Exercise makes our body physically strong. Exercise also produces endorphins and can lead to improvements in mood. Finding exercise activities that you enjoy or engaging in your exercise routine with a friend may be an added boost.
Finding activities that you love: Finding hobbies, activities, or routines that provide you with stability, fun, or peace may help you feel refreshed and rejuvenated whenever you participate in them.
Emotional self-care efforts focus on your mind and mental health
Emotional self-care involves keeping your mind and mental health in the best condition you can. Examples of emotional self-care include, but are not limited to:
Finding activities that you love: Just like when practicing physical self-care, finding and regularly participating in activities that make you happy may improve your mindset.
Journaling: Keeping a journal, whether it be daily, weekly, monthly, or whatever schedule you can keep up, can help you track your emotions. It can also help you find patterns in the way you’re thinking, feeling, and experiencing the world. Keeping a journal is also an excellent way to release any frustrating, confusing, or debilitating emotions.
Meditating: Practicing meditation or mindfulness may help quiet your mind and allow you to gain a strong perception on what you need. Practicing meditation or mindfulness can be based on whatever schedule you feel comfortable with and can help you identify and combat mental and emotional health issues you may be struggling with.
Surrounding yourself with positive people: The people we keep around us have an impact on the way we feel about ourselves and the world around us. Keeping positive family, friends, or other supportive individuals around you may have a direct impact on your mental wellbeing.1
There is beauty in healing, broken inner parts (dissociation) from surviving. I resonate with the art of ‘kintsugi. This concept is an old Japanese philosophy’repairing pottery by golden joinery’
We can mind our broken parts and our sadness, making them emblems of resilience, the passage of time, and the inevitability of change and transformation!! Like the Phoenix from the ashes, butterfly from a cocoon. Repairing our history we become more beautiful than before, it’s our karma.
What I Want Others to Know
Bringing ‘Kintsugi’ to mind,our cracks and scars can be made into patterns of golden rivers.you become more than you were,more than you are and more of that you will be.. I promise you this,as l can see the world reflecting light from my kingship…..
Warning: May contain triggers for survivors of childhood sexual abuse Originally published June 2, 2018
I was seven or so the first time I was left alone with my ‘aunt’. We lived across the street and the family was a big part of our lives. The parting nasty reminder to ‘mind your aunt !’ …. I took that seriously, because of the physical and verbal violence that ensued whenever we were ‘bad’. We were bad a lot!
I was told to undress and get in the bathtub…posed and told what to say…naked and afraid if I didn’t do what she daid, I’d get (another) standing on tippie-toes beating. I knew this wasn’t right, and as soon as my aunt went home, I told ‘mommy’.
I vividly remember her screaming at me, questioning me…and my thinking, as a seven year old, “she’s mad…but she’ll do the right thing” It never crossed my mind the ‘aunt’ would lie, and be believed.
More screaming as I was told to repeat the words she told me to. Marched across the street, We met in the hallway, I was crying as I repeated,”I’m sorry, aunt ___. I’m sorry I lied”. She said nothing, just hugged me. That night my dad yelled at me, and shamed me by asking if I’d pull down my pants for a stranger on the street.
All these years later, I realize it was convenient denial. Not only did the undressing and posing continue, now my ‘uncle’, at the aunt’s sugestion, started playing – and now my younger brother was being undressed and posed. We were left in their care a lot, and they passed us around to their friends, and their cousins.
I touched my first penis at 8 or 9 years old…peed into jars…was a stripper told to open my legs wider…wider, hold ‘it’ (my vagina) open, thats what ‘they’ were paying to see. About this time ‘grandpa’ starting showing us ‘the little man’… He’d draw a face on his penis and show it to us. We’d see his hard penis hanging out of his shorts, wondering why he didn’t know it was hanging out.