Adult Children of Childhood Sexual Abuse
This post contains information of a graphic nature.
Please do not continue reading unless you understand that sensitive content about child sexual abuse is contained below. That said, please support this brave woman as she shares her story.
Over 90% of child sex abuse victims know their abusers.
This is her story.
A dark shadow lurks over a little girl, watching her in her silent slumber, devious thoughts rise in his mind, she opens her eyes at first to be frightened, she focuses in on the face upon the shadow and relaxes for it is a familiar one, he slides in closer now to be laying with her. Her body now becoming tense, she tries to move but is not able due to the excessive force brought upon her body, she is pulled back quickly to be tightly embraced and a sweaty palm takes over her mouth giving her no room to shout her objections. Eyes filled with tears and body trembling with fear he rips down the wall between his manliness and her innocence. He presses his body on top of hers and tears into the pride lands, severe jolts of pain go throughout her body and her eyes give way to the streaming tears. Her body lay lifeless and numb as he releases his manliness inside of her, he looks at her with the devils eyes then moves to freshen up. He returns to find her helpless in a puddle of blood he picks her up washes and clothes her, then cleans the bedding leaving not a trace, headed for the door he turns back and curses, "this will be our little secret" *R.Goldstein*
This is my first memory as a child. I was seven when a family friend did this. I never told anyone anything.
I used to write a lot to help me cope with my childhood. I wrote this poem when I was eleven so it's not put together very well, but these are my words and my life as I was experiencing them. What I had felt was so very real and so painful, and I wasn't able to tell anyone. My mom was a heroin addict and that is the beginning of my story.
Thank you for your attention.
One in five girls is a victim of child sexual abuse, leaving scars that will last a lifetime.
This is her story.
One winter when I was ten, under the guise of a group father-daughter weekend camp out, my Dad took me to a secluded cabin in the woods. It was beautiful there. Snow, pine trees and a frozen lake were right there outside the windows of the cabin. But inside there was nothing but hell.
By this time my Father had been abusing me for about seven years so I knew what was in store, even though I wished I could be such a good girl he wouldn't assault me this time. In the past though, it was single encounters; one rape, one act of sodomy or one forced act of oral sex committed in the middle of the night in my bed or in the tent on a camping trip. Then I would have sweet peace until the next time.
This time it was an entire weekend.
Repeated violations for hours and hours. And I didn't have my primary coping tool with me. At home I had drawn crayon pictures above my bed so when my Father came into my room I would fly up into them and escape.
Here, there were no crayon pictures, no means of escape as I didn't yet have the tools to dissociate without the help of those pictures. I was fully present for all he did, something I hadn't been for years. That is, I think, the primary reason why this weekend was so damaging, and why the memories of it visit me so often.
I don't remember sleeping. The pain and fear were too significant. But I do remember lying on a sleeping bag in the dark night staring at the fire in the fireplace while my Father slept next to me. I recall begging the fire to envelop me and take me away. But it did not.
That weekend was the most frightening time in all the years my Father assaulted me. And it was also the most confusing. I wanted him to love me so badly. I craved the love of a Father who would accept and care for me.
He said all the right words. He told me he loved me. He told me I was his special little girl and that I was such a good, good girl. That made me very happy. But at the same time he hurt me, excruciatingly so.
My mind couldn't make sense of it except to determine I was a bad girl who wasn't appreciative of her Father's affections. It was a weekend of profoundly felt pain—both physical and emotional. The emotional was the worst because I felt like a failure. I came home an even more broken little girl than I left, hard to imagine given what I had endured the seven years before, but incredibly true.
Why am I sharing this memory? For two reasons. The first reason I share my story, in the details that I did, is to educate all of those people who tell sexual assault survivors to “Just get over it.” I would be rich if I had a nickel for every time someone told me that. “It happened so long ago, why can't you just put it behind you?” Read my story, people who think I am faulty in my processing of the sexual assault.
Put yourself in my shoes—just for that one weekend, knowing it was only one weekend in eight years of assault for me. I challenge you.
Imagine the rape, the sodomy, the forced oral sex as if you were a ten year old little girl who wanted nothing more than to please her father and earn his love. Feel the pain, the confusion, the shame, the helplessness and the hopelessness. Focus on it for 24 hours, the amount of time I had to endure it.
Now, just get over it—in a finger snap, just like that.
Second, I want those who have suffered sexual assault to know they are not alone. One of the most horrible aftereffects of being sexually assaulted is that as victims we feel so isolated and alone. Some of that is because of the shame of what happened, some of it is because we look around and no one else seems to be suffering like we are.
But read my story and know YOU ARE NOT ALONE in what you've suffered.
I have been there—to the depths of hell riding on the back of the devil himself. On the dark nights when all you can do is relive the memories, know you are not alone. On the days when flashbacks and emotional pain seem to invade every aspect of your life, know you are not alone. Others have endured what you have and we are there in the darkness with you.
Our energy is there with you.
Our love and our strength are there with you.
Several times during the day you pass another one of us who have endured what you did. My worldly eyes may not see you but my spirit sees you. And as we pass I send out love, strength and acceptance. “You are known”, my spirit tells yours. “You are loved. You are worthy. You are not alone.”
Nine out of ten victims of child sexual abuse know their abusers. Many times, the abuser is a member of their family.
This is her story.
Today my mother told me my dad told her that it may be true that I wasn't lying about my grandfather.
My mother is, as they say, an unreliable narrator. She said it like this, "Well, your dad said to me once, 'I'm only going to tell you this one time. The girls may have been telling the truth about what happened to them.'"
The sharp hope that welled within me surprised me. I have a memory of my father, very drunk, asking me to accompany him as he took the baby sitter home. I was little. I had been asleep, I think. We dropped her off then my dad looks at me and begs, "Is it true?"
I was uncomfortable, scared.
When I told him yes, his anguish was unbearable for me. His tears. I only ever saw him cry that day. Not when his mother or his brother died. Not even when his father, the grandfather in question, died.
Instead my father was always drunk.
Through the years he would volley this, "You girls and your lies ruined my family, ruined my father's life." The message was always: it was my fault. I was a liar. I hurt everyone and ruined everything.
The hope that came with my mother's ridiculously casual announcement today isn't as freeing as it needs to be from the chains of all those other statements. I don't know that I trust her. I don't know if he ever really said it.
In my heart, I don't believe he believes it, believes me.
If he did believe me, why did nothing happen to my grandfather? Why did he get to move in with us, years after I accused him? Why was I forced to spend time with him, day after day, living in fear of his eyes, his hands?
If my father believed me, why didn't he protect me?
So, I guess he didn't believe me, right? If he did, and he didn't protect me, what is so wrong with me that I didn't deserve protection?
Years of healthy acceptance under my belt, and her one casual sentence today brings me to my knees.
I'm not strong.
I'm broken, afraid, grieving, mourning the loss of the man I still love. I'm in constant pain. I miss my life before the accident, before I was broken. And yet you pat my hand and say, "You're so strong. You're handling this so well." You refuse to acknowledge that I don't feel strong. You refuse to see that I'm hanging on by the skin of my teeth.
My pain, my suffering makes you uncomfortable. We don't talk about these things in our family. I want to break down and cry, I want to wail and ask why this happened to me.
I know that life is not fair. I have known it since I was molested by a relative when I was five years old. I was reminded when I was raped at seventeen. I had my nose broken when I was eighteen on Martin Luther King Day because my skin was the wrong color. I've never thought that life is fair, I know better.
I never brought those things up because I was taught that strength is suffering in silence. Strength is not talking about your feelings. Strength is keeping other people's secrets, even when you shouldn't. Strength is taking care of everyone even though your heart is breaking. Strength is putting others' needs first, even when you can barely take care of yourself.
But I can't do it anymore. I'm not that strong.
I refuse to hide my pain. I need you to bear witness. Just listen to me when I cry, hand me a tissue, hold my hand. I don't expect you to fix things, there is no fix. I just need you to listen.
Please don't tell me I shouldn't feel broken, useless, discouraged, and so terribly hurt. This is how I feel. If my feelings haven't changed in the last 531 days what makes you think you can change them by telling me not to feel this way? I'm not strong and you saying I'm strong doesn't make it true.
Please just be there when I cry. Hold my hand in the car because I still have flashbacks. Listen to me when say I'm hurting and just need to talk.
I'm not strong.
Not right now.
Maybe someday I'll be strong again.
Sexual abuse during childhood can have devastating effects that last through adulthood.
This is her story of strength.
People ask me (my mom asks me), "Why do you write about your life online, especially all of that stuff about sexual abuse in your childhood?"
Sometimes that last part is said in a whisper, as if they aren't sure what will happen if they say it loudly.
I explain that writing was a big part of healing for me.
I explain that the community of people online have supported me, and loved me, and prayed for me, and walked through dark times with me. And there are people in my real life who know my story and have done the same, but only because I have been open about it.
I explain that I share my story for all of the people who can't share theirs.
Most of all, I share my story because I have no shame.
When I bring my words into the light, they have power.
Bad stuff happened.
There is no shame in writing about that online, or saying it out loud.
I am at a place in my life and healing where I am no longer afraid of a Google search. I do not worry what people will think if they find my name.
I am not the only one who survived a childhood of abuse - there are far too many of us.
You might not be ready to put everything out there. You might be in the beginning stages of healing. That is fine. I want you to know that if you do decide to share your story and people whisper-ask "Why do you write all of that stuff about abuse?" you do not need to hold any shame.
You are a survivor.
You are strong.
Your words have power.
You have the right to share your story in whatever way feels right to you.
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