Category: In Your Words – Stories

How is there not a way to protect children from other children?

Originally published 1/14/2019

Five short weeks after my honeymoon, my then 6 year old made a disclosure that would change our entire forward trajectory. My stepson (9) had shared with him that he had been sodomized by my older stepson (13). Shortly following that disclosure, we found out that my son had also been sodomized by my 9 year old stepson. Immediate separation followed, my son was diagnosed with severe ptsd, and he’s been in weekly therapy for 7 months. My ex was enraged from the getgo that I reported this to child welfare and police. We all know sex abuse comes from somewhere and I wasn’t about to sweep it under the rug. Following the abuse I learned that my father in law is a sex addict, had multiple affairs, and that a number of his family members have been molested.

At the end of the summer, my ex enrolled his son into an athletic program at a school we are at daily, that his kids are unaffiliated with. Clearly this was a calculated move to cause alarm. Naturally, I went to authorities to try and protect my son as their presence caused an immediate regression in PTSD symptoms that had begun to fade. Surprisingly, because my stepson is younger than 12, my son has no rights despite having forensic interview proving sodomy. There’s no consequences and no legal way to allow my son to be free of unwanted contact with his abuser. Though my ex has already demonstrated lack of concern for my son, our divorce judge won’t even grant restraint so that my son is free from unwanted contact. How is there no protection for kids when child on child sexual abuse has the same effect on victims?

I was counting on her

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

Killing the Pain

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.

Getting better is my main focus

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.

The Impact

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.

Triggers
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.
The Impact
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.
We believe in the healing power of stories
A Buried Memory

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.

Books were my escape

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.

There is beauty in healing

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’

The Impact

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…..

It Never Crossed My Mind the ‘Aunt’ Would Lie…And Be Believed

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.

Convenient Denial

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.

never tried to tell again…and the molestation went on for years…

The Impact

I have PTSD and depression from those years, and trust issues. No one that hasn’t experienced this can understand how deeply it affects the survivor, and every aspect of their lives.

What I want others to know/understand

It’s not your fault. You can come to a peaceful place with the trauma with a competent therapist. I am working on it.

My Toolbox

By Anthony Carrone

In my last article, I mentioned the tools I try to use every day to continue coping with my memories of sexual abuse. For me, coping is a never-ending process. Unfortunately, my tools don’t make the memories go away, but I can’t think of a healthy alternative that does. Like many tool boxes, the tools in my box were acquired over time. I don’t use all of my tools every day, and sometimes I need WD-40 to get them working correctly, but knowing I have a set to use is helpful in its own way.

My toolbox:

  • Staying active
  • To-do list
  • Charity
  • Mindfulness meditations
  • Journaling/Storytelling

Staying active

Finding ways to stay active has played a major role in coping with my troubling memories. In addition to all of the known benefits of staying active, for me, it brings back favorable memories and feelings from my childhood. Some of my favorite memories were made playing baseball and camping with my friends. Staying physically active has allowed me to reminisce about those times while creating new memories with my new friends. Completing a game or a difficult hike also provides me with a sense of accomplishment that feels really good!  

To-do lists

Some mornings, I wake up feeling anxious or depressed and feel like there is nothing that will get me out of bed. It would be so easy to turn over and go back to sleep. What I have found is that making a to-do list helps me get past that initial morning depression and jumpstart my day in a much more positive way. I actually use a cheat code for this – Let me explain. On those difficult mornings, after I realize I am dangerously close to falling into a non-productive day, I get up and make my bed (I know this is not always easy – but it got easier with repetition) After I make my bed, I create a checklist of things I need to get done. My trick is adding “MAKE YOUR BED” as the first task on my list and immediately checking it off. Oh, it is so satisfying! It may seem silly, but sometimes that small sense of accomplishment is what I need to change the trajectory of my day.

Charity

Practicing random acts of kindness and charity every day is, I think, one of the most effective ways to cope and also make a real difference in someone else’s day. Charity does not have to be monetary or even publicized to make a difference or be an effective tool in your kit. Unselfishly giving your time, love and attention creates a positive energy that you and people around you will benefit from.

Mindfulness meditation

Meditation has been the most useful tool in my toolbox. Actually, it may be the material many of my tools are crafted from.  Or maybe it’s what my toolbox is made of?  Anyway, before I lose you… Practicing mindfulness meditation has changed my life. Most of us are mindful at some point during the day, but it’s really difficult to stay in that zone.  Sometimes we are distracted by a thought from our past that brings up uncomfortable memories. For me, if I let it, those thoughts have the potential to bring me to a dark place, usually filled with anger and a case of the f*ck its. A place where my mind is racing all over the place, but my body is paralyzed – a feeling of defeat. Practicing mindfulness through meditation has helped me recognizing when these intrusive thoughts arise, accept them, and get my mind back to the current moment – Like when I am having trouble getting up in the morning, recognize my negative emotions and decide to make a to-do list to help get me started.  There are many different styles of meditation, so if mindfulness is not the way for you, check out some other forms of meditation that seem like a better fit!

Journaling and storytelling

Getting my thoughts out, one way or another, has always helped me cope with what I am feeling inside. What I like about journaling is the ability to go back and actually read my own words about what I was thinking or feeling during that moment – it’s right there in front of me. It also helps me see my own potential behavioral patterns. If I notice I am feeling a certain way, I’ll often go back to my journal to see when I’ve felt that way before. If I have, I’ll recall how I reacted and review how that worked out for me. Finding a group of friends or an outlet like Gravity Network to share your thoughts with can be super helpful.

As I said earlier, these tools have not deleted my memories of sexual abuse, but they have taught me skills to live a happy life without blaming myself for other’s actions. I plan to stay physically active and remain healthy to help find the joy in things I used to love. I will do my best to make to-do lists to help me stay on top of my daily tasks when my emotions want to distract me. I will give my time and attention to other who need it, because others have been there for me when I needed to be lifted up. I will practice mindfulness to remain aware of my true self and chart the path to my brightest future. And I will continue to tell my story through personal journaling and this blog, not only for myself, but for others who read and are going through their own struggles.