My Story by Christina Enevoldsen

Oct 22nd, 2009 | By | Category: All Posts, Our Stories

Christina Enevoldsen

Before I started healing, I felt like most of my life had been an effort to wake up from a nightmare.  I had a desperate need to escape to the light of day, to free myself from the strange dreamworld of an alternate reality.

I don’t remember thinking about sexual abuse until I was about fourteen or fifteen.  I was dating a boy and told him I had been raped.  It seemed strange to me since I didn’t have any memory of being raped and hadn’t planned to say that.  It came out of my mouth before I really thought about it.  In hearing that, I realized I had the feeling for a long time that something awful had happened to me and that I felt dirty.

When I was in my early twenties, I drove past a preschool in a neighborhood close to where I lived as a young child.  Suddenly I knew I was sexually abused.  It’s not as though I was abused at that preschool, and I didn’t remember a specific instance, but I knew it was a fact, not just a feeling.

I was married with two small kids by then, but when I visited my parents, my mom and I stood in the kitchen and I told her that I was sexually abused.  She responded without interest, as though I never said a word, but my dad yelled from his chair in the next room, “No, you weren’t!”  Okay, end of discussion.

For years, I couldn’t remember anything specific.  I knew that it was my dad who had abused me. I don’t know how I knew, but I knew.  But also thought I might have been abused by others.  I had the feeling of being passed around.

Although I didn’t have any specific memories, I could identify some of the effects of the abuse and began to address them.  I knew I had problems saying no to men, that I acted in a very seductive way, that I was full of shame, and had difficulty setting boundaries so I tried to deal with those things.

Years passed and my twenty-one year marriage to a man who was verbally and financially abusive ended.

Five years later, I was happily and safely re-married and then everything changed.  My twenty-four year old daughter, Bethany, called me one night to tell me she wanted to report her father, my ex-husband, for sexually abusing her.  While doing my best to support her, I started having graphic flashbacks and dreams about my own abuse.  I started seeing my childhood memories in a different light.  All along, I thought I had no memories of my abuse, but it slowly occurred to me that what I thought of as normal father & daughter activities were in reality acts of sexual abuse.

My father not only abused me himself, but also traded me to other men.  There were sex parties where young girls were exchanged. When I was about eight or nine, my dad bragged to a group of people that I would make a good call girl.  He said it like that was a good thing.  They all laughed.  Around the same time, my dad lost his job and a wealthy neighbor helped to keep us fed.  I was sent to the neighbor’s house, either as a favor or as payment for the food he gave us. The neighbor raped me with a pool stick in his basement.  I walked home alone, hoping nobody would see what a bad girl I was.

I’ve woken up from my nightmare and have learned to shine the light on my past. As I’ve faced the truth, my life has drastically changed.  I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.  I love myself. I have healthy relationships. I’m able to look at my future with excitement. The worst part of my life is over.  I’m an overcomer.

Christina Enevoldsen is cofounder of Overcoming Sexual Abuse, an online resource for male and female abuse survivors looking for practical answers and tools for healing. Christina’s passions are writing and speaking about her own journey of healing from abuse and inspiring people toward wholeness. She and her husband live in Los Angeles and share three children and five grandchildren.

Does this resonate with you? Please join in by leaving your thoughts and feelings about this in the comments.

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98 comments
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  1. It seems that the more I talked about the lost memories, the more I knew. What was once locked away, opened up like the sun shining thru a slit in the curtain. Knowing that if I opened that curtain, more sun would shine thru. Well done. Tell us more.

  2. I now know, that I have forgotten most of my life. The abuse I remember in detail, birth of my children, and a few good times, but up until 15 years ago, when I started getting free, I couldn’t remember faces, names, events. All kinds of stuff. I sometimes wonder if it still has to do with the hiding place. I can block things out of my mind so easy.

    I needed to use my husbands soc. sec. # 6 years ago and told him, don’t worry, I won’t remember it. And to this day, I have to ask him each time. A person I knew over 15 years ago contacted me and I am having the hardest time remembering who she is and she is telling me things I don’t remember at all. My kids do the same thing. “Mom, remember this, remember that”. It’s as tho there is this valve in my brain that decides what to remember and what not to remember. I can stand in a room full of people and block them out totally. No sound, nothing.

    Sometimes it’s a good thing, but sometimes it’s not. Especially for my husband. He can be talking to me and carrying on a whole conversation and I can block him out. Like I said in my first story. The memory blocker, my hiding place became a friend to me and I know, I need to tell this friend to move on. I am safe now. I am no longer afraid.

  3. Thank you for sharing. Such courage. I am so glad that you have started this group with the mother-daughter focus. My daughters, my husband and I have our own story as well. I am so thankful there are people like you who are willing to expose the truth.

  4. I am honored to read what your have shared. All the words are ripples of helpfulness and are isolation-breaking. Thank you! xo

  5. Jessica,
    Yes, you have your own courageous story. I’m so glad that neither of us could be stopped!
    Hugs, Christina

  6. Sarah,
    I’m happy that my story was helpful to you. That’s what I’m hoping for. I hate for other survivors to feel alone in their experience or their feelings. I wish you healing!
    Hugs, Christina

  7. Just read your story today. Ripples of pain shuddered as I read. Amazing how the mind blocks for so long what we must block to go on… and then when it brings the memory… does it just come back unpredictably in a flash? <3

  8. Lisa,
    Yes, it still amazes me how much we can hide from ourselves so we can focus on survival until we’re ready to face it. For me, the surfacing of each incident was different. At first, they seemed to come from out of nowhere, though as I learned to see the signs, I noticed that my mood would change a day or two before some new memory was revealed. I learned to take special care of myself during those times so I could express my emotions without feeling pulled into excessive activity. It was actually a relief to get my memories back. I was holding onto them for so long and the weight was pulling me down. It’s been good to get them out, face them, process them and let them go.
    Thanks for your comment! Hugs, Christina

  9. Interesting that you learn to recognize the signs, and the mood changes just before.
    Must have taken a lot of courage to not ignore or repress or brush them off.
    Not there yet, but thank you so much for your courage to heal and share it!

  10. Lisa,
    It’s not so hard anymore. I recognize the pain that surfaces for what it is– an indication of unresolved issues. It’s easier to just face it when it comes up than to try to bury it back up. I feel so much better afterwards, so that’s very motivating! I know it’s not easy at first, but it’s so worth facing. You get your life back!
    Be well, Christina

  11. It is awesome to see that I am not alone.I kept my sexual abuse a secret for 20 years and only told my mom 2 weeks ago. I was sexually abuse by my brother and was raped by my father.I decided it is time for me to heal and look after myself and what is the best for me.I have a lot of anger,shame and lost all my self respect and it is know time to deal with this.I am 30 and want to be happy.I don’t want to be the victim anymore.

  12. Hi Cindy,
    You’re right, you are definitely not alone. I’m sorry for what you went through and that you’ve been alone with your secret for so long. That must have been hard to talk to your mom about it. How did she respond? I’m happy to hear you’re ready to heal and look after yourself now. You’re worth it. Welcome to the healing community!
    Hugs, Christina

  13. Hi Christina

    Well Christina my mom was shocked and had a lot of questions.Like where did it happen? When did it happen? Why would he do it? I was really mad because this was the questions that she was suppose to asked my brother and not me.My mom is the type of person that don’t know how to respond to serious matters.I know she just want to forget about what I said,but I know my mom she is blaming herself know.The rape she just asked me why did I not scream? I was so mad because it felt like she was blaming me,but i don’t blame her.I just want to heal Christina.I was in a terrible relationship the last year and he cheated on me and the last lady was married and I just could not handle it and broke of the engagement.It is now 4 months later and still struggling with it,because if feels like the men cheating on me because I am not good enough.

  14. Wow, Cindy! I can see how those questions from your mom feels as though she is blaming you. I’m sorry she’s not more supportive.

    Sometimes people who love us don’t have any interest in learning how to be supportive and other times, they just need to be educated on what kind of support to give. Have you read this? http://overcomingsexualabuse.com/2010/04/07/how-to-support-a-survivor-of-sexual-abuse/ It’s an article that can help survivors communicate their support needs.

    You sound very strong in spite of everything that’s happened to you. Do you have a plan yet for your healing process? Have you told anyone else yet? Are you on facebook? We have a great community of survivors who support one another on our FB page.
    Christina

  15. Hi Christina.Yes was very surprised how my mom handle it,but know it seems like she just forget about everything and go on as normal and I am still struggling.I am trying so hard to be positive and go on,but I was diagnose with MDE(Major Depression Disorder) when I was 18 and this is a struggle on his own.My terapist suggest that that I must go for 3 weeks to Sereno Clinic and I decided to go in November.A few people know about it, close friends. Yes I am on facebook.

    Thank you for the support so far.

  16. Hi Cindy,
    I’m so glad to hear you’re seeking support for yourself. It seems that anything is possible to overcome when we have people around us who are cheering us on and willing to point us in the right direction.
    Hugs to you, Christina

  17. Hi Christina.I am so sad today and heart broken.My mom told me last night she spoke to my brother and she believe him that he did not sexually abuse me for all those years.She told me I am a sick person and need help.I feel so helpless and alone.

  18. Cindy,
    I’m so sorry to hear that your mom is responding that way now. She may not support you, but you still aren’t alone. Have you joined the Overcoming Sexual Abuse site on Facebook? You’ll get a lot of support and encouragment there. There’s also a blog series called “What If My Family Rejects Me” parts one, two and three that might help too.
    Hugs, Christina

  19. Christina,

    Reading this just makes me was to punch all those men in the face!
    The very idea that your father said to other men that you would make a good call girl!? Your neighbor was an unspeakable pig, too.
    This makes me so angry.!!!!!!
    I have a great deal of admiration for your sheer guts in writing this blog and helping other people to speak up and stand up.
    I hate what you and your daughter went through. I hate it.
    Can you tell me what role has the issue of ‘forgiveness’ played? I don’t feel like forgiving the person/s who abused my daughter, or feel like forgiving the sister who turned her back on my then ten yr old daughtera and I when we were stalked by my mother’s friend. Now though, I don’t dwell on it as much. I had alot of rage- real hatred for a time for this.I didn’t know what to fo with sll the anger for years-so I talked about it and I did write about it but that made it worse. Maybe I didn’t do it long enough.

    I tried to forgive but I didn’t sever the connections and I would get hurt all over again in my family. Now mom is dead and my sister and I haven’t spoken in a year, yet it was not I who severed the connection- she did.

    Thanks SO much for your story and your willingness to share and be supportive of everyone.

  20. Hi Liz,
    Thanks for your encouragement! The issue of forgiveness is complicated. I was raised with the belief that forgiveness was mandatory and that if I didn’t forgive, I was just as bad as the abusers. I tried for years to forgive, and thought I had. Once my memories came up, I realized the idea of forgiveness was just putting a lid on all my emotions. It was a form of denial. So I put forgiveness aside and worked through my anger and hatred. A LOT of it!

    I wrote a post about my process with forgiveness: http://overcomingsexualabuse.com/2010/10/28/what-about-forgiveness/
    Hugs to you, Christina

  21. My heart breaks at the abuse you suffered. God bless you and I know your misery has become your ministry and you will help many people. I thank God for your courage and for blessing you with a Man who loves and adores you. Thank you for sharing your story.

  22. Dee,
    You’re right. I’m so happy that I get to share my process and that the pain from the past and the effects from abuse CAN be overcome. Nothing delights me more than to turn something that brought such misery to my life into something so wonderful. Thanks for sharing!
    Christina

  23. I am working on my own ministry to help others emerge & heal from sexual abuse, as well, as other types of abuse… As God began to peel my past like an onion… part of me could not believe what I had survived. He is go gracious & merciful to not show it all to us at once. Fear is at the root of every bondage relating to dealing with the past to TRY hinder our healing… I thank you for letting us share in the healing of your past, this inspires me to share more. We have a very similiar calling and vision. He is so faithful! Thank you for investing in all of us and our recovery by sharing your story. I press on. God bless :)

  24. Shawnda, how great it is to share the hope of healing that we’ve found! Good for you for sharing your life with others who are hurting!

  25. I wish I could forget everything that happened to me, but I remember everyday. Anything can triguer a memory pictures, sounds, smells, people; all I want is to forget, but I can’t, and I’m tired of being strong.

  26. I cannot forget. I am 62 years and my mother set me up with my father at the age of four. I became the buffer that kept the family together. I married my husband in 1971 after knowing him for only 6 weeks. But I was unable to tell him until my brother had twin daughters in 1986. To protect them, I had to tell even though my parents said that if I ever told, he would leave me…they had done every thing in their power to break us up. This coming December we will have been married for 40 years. The last time I spoke to my parents in 1997, my mother said “that was a long time ago…why does it bother you now? I have asked God to forgive them…I can’t seem to. The person I can’t seem to forgive is myself. I remember every day and despite having a wonderful husband, two amazing sons and two grandchildren, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t feel the pain of the first 20 years of my life.

  27. Forgiveness is a personal issue, for some people it’s a non-issue, though there always seems to be a person who does not respect personal boundaries who tries to make it an issue for someone else.
    I think most people would see it as inappropriate to encourage a Holocaust victim to forgive Hitler.
    I hope most people would recognize that the way a Holocaust victim deals with their feelings is a personal issue.
    I think there are two reasons that survivors of abuse from a family member don’t get the same respect:

    1. If the survivor ‘forgives’ everyone can pretend it never happened and that it’s a nonissue. The delusion of one big happy family can live on.

    2. There is inside most adults a little child who still thinks mommy and daddy are ‘good’ and children are ‘bad’ for holding their parents responsible for their destructive actions. These people preach forgiveness to maintain this mindset. It’s threatening to them to think, “Maybe Mom and Dad weren’t good people.” They would rather believe that their sister the survivor is bad for not forgiving. They will even encourage her to do it for herself, to relieve her anger, when in fact they want her to do it for themselves-to help them maintain their false, childhood belief that Mom and Dad are good people. The truth is scary.

  28. Linda,
    Letting go of the self-blame and forgiving ourselves is some of the hardest parts of healing. For me, there have been so many layers to it. I can finally give 100% of the blame, shame and responsibility to my abusers. I was a vulnerable child who didn’t even have any say over if I ate all my peas or not, so I know I didn’t have any say over the abuse. I hope you keep looking at the truth and are able to forgive yourself. You are blameless and didn’t do anything wrong.
    Christina

    Cassandra,
    I absolutely agree with the reasons you give for people “pushing” forgiveness. Another one is that they are intimidated by abusers. They can’t stand up to abusive behavior and think they are protecting you to tell you to drop the issue. And that’s how the cycle continues. Thanks for sharing that!
    Christina

  29. Cassandra,
    Thank you for the validation that you gave me. My abuse extended to even what and how much I ate, even as a small child. I was forced to clean my plate even to the point of vomiting because there was too much. Then my mother forced me to eat everything that I had thrown up. Years later, I had eating disorders that could be traced back to everything that had happened to me. When I was very young, my mother and father stood me on a chair and pointed out all of my flaws to whoever came to our house. I am 62 years old and I can’t stand to look at myself in the mirror. My husband, sons and daughter-in-law keep telling me that I am beautiful, but I will never be able to see it. I have had so many tell me to just “let it go”. But the damage is done. I do believe that my faith in God is what has enabled me to survive all of it. And a beautiful new granddaughter and now a grandson on the way keeps me believing in the goodness of some over the worst of others.

    Prayers always,
    Linda

  30. I said Cassandra. I meant to address both Christina and Cassandra.

    Linda

  31. Christina,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I have a story of my own. It’s wonderful to know that someone else knows what it’s like to block out their memories. I don’t know if I’ll ever get them back. And sometimes I’m scared of what I’ll remember. But in my heart I want so badly to remember. To know if the reason I didn’t bleed the first time I had sex was really baceause of the time I fell in the bathroom and landed on my foot when I was 10. You and your strength are a real inspiration. Thank you so much

    Andrea

  32. Christina,
    Do you still have contact with your parents? I stopped communicating with mine in 1997 and my much younger sister (who is now a Lesbian…something she says is not because of abuse) in 1998 because she acused me of betraying my parents?? My sons consider my parents dead, but my husband’s mother and my sister want me to contact them, that I will regret not seeing them before they die. My husband is very supportive of me not seeing them any more. But I am so confused, that I am being pulled apart with guilt. I am being told to Honor My Father and Mother, that I will go to Hell if I don’t. Not by our friends and not by our minister but by my husband’s family. I am so tired lately that I am sick almost all of the time. I am tired of the past and want to put it behind me, but it is thrown up in my face almost constantly. Thank you so much for talking about things. My heart goes out to you.

    Prayers always,
    Linda

  33. Christina, I think you need to forgive yourself. It’s the only way to find the serenity you deserve after all your years of suffering and guilt. Every choice you made was understandable and forgivable when you made it, especially at the age and under the circumstances of your life at the time.

    Sure, those choices look unforgivable to you now with 20-20 hindsight, Your blogs show that you understand what you did wrong, and have sincerely apologized to the people you hurt, and are helping your daughter recover from any damage you are only partly responsible for. Sharing your story publicly to help others, risking their ridicule and censure, is an admirable act of contrition.

    God requires remorse, understanding of what you did wrong, amends to the person you hurt, and a positive act of contrition. You have earned God’s forgiveness, and He has already forgiven you. It is time for forgive yourself.

    You’ve punished yourself for those choices long enough to qualify for amnesty. Amnesty simply means you’ve punished yourself long enough, are truly remorseful, are making amends, and understand your mistakes. it is not saying that you did not make mistakes long ago. Forgive yourself. You did the best you could at the time, and now, with new understanding, you’ve made your best infinitely better.

    Ken Braiterman

  34. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your “confessions” article. I’ve been searching the web for anyone, anywhere who had a similar story to mine. Why do I search out other mothers whose children have been systematically abused by their father? Who knows, but there you go. All I can say is, me too. The pain, shame and guilt are sometimes overwhelming but I am determined to deal, heal and move on, not only for my sake but for my children as well.

  35. Hi Ken,
    I agree that self-forgiveness is so important. Until I did that, I was stuck in the past and all the blame and shame- the same weapons of abuse. Thanks for you encouragement.
    Christina

  36. Netty,
    Oh, I’m so sorry you’ve been in a similar situation! I know how overwhelming the shame and guilt can be. It’s so hard not to condemn yourself. I’m glad you’re working through those feelings. You deserve to heal and your children deserve a mother who is healed. Thank you so much for commenting. I’m glad you know you’re not alone.
    Christina

  37. Linda,
    The “honor your father and mother” pressure is responsible for so much abuse! I understand the conflict so very well since I had that echoing in my head all my life. I finally found peace with it though and I wrote about it in a blog post: http://overcomingsexualabuse.com/2010/12/12/my-parents-are-dead-to-me/
    Christina

  38. Thank you Christina,

    My mother-in-law called me on our 40th wedding anniversary to tell me that my parents were still my parents and that I should forgive and forget or I would regret not seeing them before they die. I am called “unchristian” by my sister and two ladies at church, one of whom is our minister’s wife and some other family members when I talk about God and prayer…that I do not have the right to speak of Him. One psychiatrist that I went to for help told me that “to err is human, to forgive divine”. Another doctor said that there are more people with problems greater than mine ( I know that)

    My daughter-in-law’s mother does not want to associate with us and seems to feel that I will damage our only two grandchildren (2 years and 1 month) and manages to monopolize time with our granddaughter. My sons and my daughter-in-law have been very supportive and my husbands and two sons don’t want to see my parents.

    But there is the question of going to the funerals when they do die. I don’t want to offend my uncles, aunts or my brothers. My sister thinks that I owe my parents an apology. I don’t know how to cope with going through the same dynamics of our family 40 years ago and keeping up the lies. My mother has been put on a pedestal by her nieces and nephews and I am continually being asked what is wrong with me, that I am putting such good people through such pain.

    I have been having nightmares that people pass me on the street and move to avoid me and I walk into a room with our whole family and find myself alone, with no one to speak to me. I am so tired…I don’t know how to cope with this anymore. As the holidays come, it seems like the only family I have left are my husband, sons, daughter-in-law and grandchildren. I am blessed for this, but it is so difficult to know that because I “chose to tell” I am now facing what my father drilled into my head for 16 years, that if I ever told, no one would ever speak to me again.

    Thank you so much for listening…may God be with you for the holidays and always,
    Linda

  39. Linda,
    All of those comments are so invalidating to you!

    I know that a lot of abuse survivors wrestle over the funeral question. I’ve been asked if I was planning to attend my parent’s funeral. Even if I was welcome there, I don’t have any interest in going. They are dead to me already. For the relatives I would be supporting, I don’t consider that it would be a good enough reason to go. I’ve put everyone ahead of myself my whole life. I’m sure it will be difficult for me when my parents die, but it will be a different type of grieving and I want to take care of myself for a change.

    I hope that whatever you decide, you value your own feelings. They’ve been discounted so much already.
    Christina

  40. Thank you so much for your support, Christina,

    I have come to the point where I feel like so much has been said and done to me by others that I don’t see any future left…I have many stress related problems, both physical and mental. I am 62 but feel like I’m 92. My husband keeps trying to make me feel better, talking about moving in 2013 when he retires and building the house I’ve always wanted. But I keep catching myself saying things like, “Maybe in my next life, I’ll do this or that differently”, seemingly joking, but actually feeling like I have run out of time in this life.

    My husband and sons are wonderful and I try to not trouble them too much, they worry enough now. But I can’t see beyond tomorrow and feel unable to change what others think about me and what I think about myself. It seems like the damage is so deep, from the mental browbeating and constant insults from my mother, the physical and sexual abuse by my father to the psychological attacks by others close to me. As wonderful as my husband and sons are, they are unable to contemplate how deep the damage goes…they innocently tell me to put it behind me…they are desperate for me to have a happy life.

    I don’t mean to complain and I do try daily to change my thought processes (and for a while thought I had) but it seems like I take 1 step forward and 2 back. I would not harm myself, but sometimes look forward to a better life with God and Christ…that is my only comfort. As for a second chance, I am looking forward to wonders in the next world.

    Prayers always,
    Linda

  41. Linda,
    I tried to change my thoughts for years and years. I thought positive thinking and avoiding negative thoughts was the answer, but it never worked for me. I found that they only way to truly “think positive” was to confront the negative thoughts instead of running from them or trying to cover them up. Those “negative” thoughts are often the parts of you that were never heard and they continue to fight for recognition and expression. Sometimes, they express themselves in very harmful ways unless we find out what they are trying to say. My daughter, Bethany, struggled with some alarming thoughts until she discovered where they came from. Then, she could deal with them and now she doesn’t have those thoughts anymore. She wrote a blog post about her process: http://overcomingsexualabuse.com/2011/03/21/dead-silence-killing-my-voice/

  42. This is the first time I’ve read this post. All I can truly think is that I’m not alone. It has taken me years to get to the point where I can be honest about my past. I want to free myself as well by talking about it. I want to undo all the lies I’ve had to tell to cover up the past. I want to share it all but I don’t know where to start when it comes to sharing. A lot of my mind is still in pieces. Thank you for sharing, Christina.

  43. Hi Genesis, I’m glad you’re taking the steps to free yourself. You’re worth the effort! Christina

  44. Hi Christina,
    Thanks for sharing your story! It is sad, depressing, and so real. I was ashamed that my first thought in reading about your being passed around was, “No way, that can’t possibly be true.” How could I think such a thing, when I know so intimately the pain of being disbelieved?!
    I don’t have many clear memories of my abuse, mostly vague body feelings and memories of the suggestion and things that were said. When I was 12, my half-sister (from my father’s previous marriage) confronted him, accused him of sexual abuse, and forced him to tell his new family (our family). I’m the youngest in my family with one older sister. Somehow, my mom and dad decided “together” that I was too young to be told about it so no one told me that he had admitted to being sexually abusive of my half-sister until after he died, when I was 17. At that point I also got the news that my older sister and my mom both knew about this but chose not to tell me AND of course what’s worse is my mom knowingly stayed with a child abuser and she never even checked in with me to ask if I’d been molested. He said he didn’t touch my sister or I and she just believed him.
    He was a monster and she commiserated with him. Ugh. And now, after all this time, still my mother and sister are convinced I need to ‘just move on’ and my sister asks me not to tell anyone for fear of harming my dead father’s good reputation, particularly in the church. Ahhhh!!! It is no wonder I struggle with abandonment depression and Complex PTSD. I just wish I had a group of supportive women to help me out…which is this website. Are you planning any retreats? I’m located in San Francisco and would like to connect with other overcomers.
    Most of the time, my mind is screaming, “Please believe me!”. Not just that the abuse happened, but that it is more than just something to move on from…and not just for other people to believe me, but for me to really believe myself and support myself.
    Amy

  45. AmyH,,
    I understand your disbelief reaction to me being passed around. It’s a way to separate from it, which is a natural defense.

    I can also relate to wanting so badly to be believed. I remember how I felt when my mom wrote me a letter saying that I’m living in a fantasy world if I think my dad abused me. I felt like if she was denying my existence when she denied my abuse. In that moment, I knew what it meant to be “invalidated”. Since she didn’t acknowledge the thing that shaped so much of my life, I felt like my existence wasn’t valid–like she could erase me with her dismissal.

    I like your last line about really believing yourself. That’s the only way I’ve been able to keep on speaking the truth without worrying about what anyone else says. Nobody else can define me or my experience and I’m secure in that now. I’m glad you’ve joined us in this journey!
    Christina

  46. YOU TOLD MY STORY CHRISTINA, ONLY IT WAS MY MOTHER WHO PASSED ME AROUND….AS I READ YOUR STORY AND AS I WRITE THIS MY HEART IS BEATING SO FAST….FOR WE ARE CONNECTED BY THE HEART, AND IT BRINGS BACK THE MEMORIES…EVEN THOUGH IT IS ABOUT YOU, IT ABOUT US, ALL OF US WHO HAVE SURVIVED,….WE HEAL TOGETHER! THANK YOU FOR THIS WEBSITE, AS LIKE ME…..YOU HAVE TAKEN THE PATH OF A HEALER! I WORK AS A SAFE HOUSE MANAGER FOR ABUSED WOMEN AND CHILDREN!…..KEEP SHINING AND REFLECTTING THE LIGHT FOR THOSE WHO ARE JUST STARTING THE PROCESS OF HEALING!…..GOD BLESS YOU MY WARRIOR-WISE-SISTER! I HONOR YOUR COURAGE, STRENGTH, HONESTY, AND FAITH!…YOU ARE YOUR OWN HERO!

  47. Christina: I am a survivor of multiple rapes and domestic violence. I took my last abuser to trial (actually it took two trials) to get a standing conviction. As a result I have written an autobiography and contemporary guide for survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse. The book is entitled “Save Your Life”. Consequently, I have become a motivational and inspirational speaker and Certified Self-Esteem Master Trainer (CSEMT). If you would be interested I would love to do some collaborative work with you.

  48. Joanne, yes, we are indeed our own healers and heroes! Thank you for sharing!

  49. Rashidah,
    Good for you for standing up for yourself! That’s so empowering.
    Christina

  50. Hi I have just started on the road of healing the pain of sexual Abuse & was advised to read your story. I agree completely what you have said and thank you for posting it on the web.

  51. Derek, welcome to OSA and to the healing journey.
    Christina

  52. Christina has dreamed up her sexual abuse–accusing her father of horrible, evil behaviors that far, far from his character. Christina is using these accusations as a way of hurting her parents and getting the attention she craves. So sad that she is willing to create a fantasy world where she is the hero / victim. Will she ever come to her senses and ask for forgiveness? That is the first step to real healing…

    NOTE FROM CHRISTINA:
    This comment was left here by my mother. It inspired a blog post: http://overcomingsexualabuse.com/2012/08/26/its-not-about-you-mom/

  53. @Mary, maybe you should live your life instead of trying to prove her wrong because it seems all you care about is your ego! I believe you are projecting! How do I know? Because it is as if you have read the manual on how to be an abusive parent. Same story only the names change. Please3 get yourself some help. Come out of denial. Here is a book that might start the journey. http://www.christianbook.com/bold-love-dan-allender/9780891097037/pd/97031

  54. Whow that last comment Christina you are amazing and a brilliant person an inspiration to us all. I look forward to hearing your response to that comment. Know that their are miillions of us who never doubt you for a second those comments are just typical of what I hear from those who just cannot except the truth. Keep up all your good work.

  55. Mary,

    My mother says the same things about me “victimizing” my “innocent”, elderly, ailing father by simply telling the truth about what he did to me as a child.

    You and my mother are the ones who need to come to your senses, step out of denial and accept reality. THAT is actually the first true step of healing. Those are steps Christina took long ago and I took recently. Steps you and my mother are too afraid to take.

    I’m so deeply disappointed in mothers like you.

  56. Christina
    My wife was sexually abused by her father, along with 7 other siblings.
    Her mother denied it all along, even to suggest maybe he thought it was her.
    She still has flashbacks to this day of these “evil behaviors”.
    Interesting though is that your mom is the one speaking here and your dad ‘s comment is no where to be found. Apparently it’s not part of his”character” . Classic display of abuser/protector profile.

  57. @ your mother. Denial is a comfort to some. By facing the facts, it would make her accountable for some of the trauma so it is easier to deny it and blame you then face it and blame herself. I experienced this for 30+ years and was told to shut up b/c if the real truth came to light, my mom would divorce my step dad leaving her penniless and without insurance. At that time she was battling cancer and getting chemo. So I shut up and even retracted my story so my mom would continue to get medical treatment. I grew up my whole life being told I was an evil liar who just tried to manipulate my mom to get divorced b/c I hated my stepdad. (For good reason!).. I am 43 now and have just started to seek counseling for the abuse and trauma of so long ago. I have to let go and realize that sometimes the truth is too painful for some. I do not speak to anyone in my family although they now realize that I was telling the truth and one sister has come forward to apologize (they were 8+ years older than me). The people that were supposed to protect me were the ones abusing me and they cannot face that now. Like I said, Denial is a comfort to some and a powerful drug.

  58. Pinky, it certainly does seem as though abusers and enablers follow the same script. Thanks for your commment.
    Christina

  59. Becky,
    With the same kind of family rejection happening to so many of us, I would never back down from speaking the truth. I’m secure in knowing the truth for myself and I’ve found that those who don’t accept the truth are really lying to themselves. Thanks for your support!
    Christina

  60. Nikki,
    Isn’t that a sick system where the abusers are made out to be the victims when their victims speak out? I’m so glad to be out of that. Yay for our freedom!
    Chrisitna

  61. Tom,
    I’m so sorry for what happened to your wife. The sexual abuse is bad enough, but then to be falsely accused by the person who is supposed to love you the most is excruciating!

    I’ve observed the same thing about my dad. He’s completely silent toward me and it’s my mother doing all the speaking for him. Hmmmm.

    Thanks for commenting!
    Christina

  62. Wow, just wow. When it comes to healing I would think the FIRST thing is ACCEPTANCE. You can’t forgive anyone till you acknowledge SOMETHING WENT WRONG. I also find it interesting how you’ve suddenly popped up on HER BIRTHDAY no less and try to make a feable attempt to reclaim control, something you clearly DO NOT HAVE ANYMORE. Christina is just AWESOME in my book. REGARDLESS. I hope she continues to have an AWESOME birthday AND LIFE without YOU. My mother succeeded in ruining MY birthday this year by doing something similar to you simply BEGGING FOR HELP AND ATTENTION.

    Just wow.

  63. I have this desire or urge to defend Christina and this site from your violent comment Mary, and at the same time, I realize that’s not my responsibility… it’s not my responsibility to protect or defend what Christina and hundreds of thousands of people already accept as truth. But… when I look at where that desire comes from to defend, protect, or even be angry… I can take a moment to realize and appreciate the role that Christina’s work and contribution has played in my life. Her brave and bold realization and writing has helped me to confront my own abusers and quite frankly, they are acting quite similarly to you. Yes, Christina, they do follow a script. I recently confronted my abusers which was totally inspired by your July 8th post (which consequently was my mothers birthday) – your courage in that post gave me the strength to face reality in a deeper way. So I thank you for being there, for creating an entire community around healing from sexual abuse… for being courageous, for being honest. For being real. For being you. Happy birthday! And I also must say… I have NEVER experienced you in our few communications as being attention seeking. I experience you as very practical and having the desire just to see what is there, nothing more, nothing less. For breaking out of the delusion. You are a trailblazer for many.

    Looking forward to your writing tomorrow… Enjoy your day surrounded by those who love you, care about yo and believe in you.

  64. Christina – dna is a strong bond, and somehow comments from those we are related to, though rarely seen or have contact with, can have a significant effect on us. I know that you are aware of all those non-dna relations and how much they love you! *hugs*

  65. Dear, beautiful, caring, compassionate, wise, loving, intelligent Christina:

    As a fellow advocate for survivors of child sex abuse, I can assure anyone within listening distance of this post that no one—NO ONE wades into the mire of this dark, demonic, and devasating issue unless,
    a. They’re called to it.
    b. They’ve seen the damage of it firsthand.
    c. They are determined to stop others from having to suffer the same pain they have suffered from abuse.

    If a person is attention deprived, I suggest the following actions for consideration, before ever deciding to go the route of “falsely claming you were abused, and being vocal about it”:
    a. Strip down naked, and run through your neighborhood screaming, “I need attention!!!”.
    b. Dye your hair bright neon green.
    c. Tie toilet paper and tin cans to your car, and invest in a good siren you can blare as you’re out crusing.

    Fabricating a story that you were sexually abused, being very public about it, and spending exorbinate amounts of your time to help other survivors is….well, play that card ONLY after you’ve exhausted all other options.

    I adore you.

    Kristi

  66. I’m so sorry Christina. Your mother has the classic narcissistic response of blame and denial. SHAME on her. I’m sorry this led to another generation in the cycle of abuse but that you SUPPORTED your daughter. It hurts so bad not to be nurtured and loved but as the daughter of a narcissistic mother and involment with a sick psychopath that has the same mentality as your father, I understand. I understand the denial and lost memories, Stockholm Syndrome, it’s the only way we can process such trauma. You are not your family of origin, thankfully, you are you and amazingly brave. Many blessings in yout travels in healing.

  67. Mary,

    I find it quite ironic that the very thing that Christina writes about, is the very thing that you are confirming. Your comment has done nothing but validate her truth. She shares how you have always accused her of wanting attention and how she lives in a fantasy world. Even deciding to write this on her birthday only makes her story more true and real. I can only assume that you thought your comment would turn us against Christina, yet all it has done is bring it more into reality. Your comments and actions are the perfect example of a mother who would rather live in denial, and protect her husband (the abuser) instead of believing her own child. Your words are full of bitterness and were meant to cause harm, (seems like you need to do the forgiveness thing yourself) yet the only thing you did was to shout your sin from the rooftop and expose your own faults. The true colors of a wolf will eventually show thru the sheep’s clothing!!!

  68. Genesis,
    Thanks for your kind words! I’m glad you’re determined to have a great life in spite of your family.
    Christina

  69. Kylie,
    I’m so glad that I’ve inspired you. You’re inspiring to me too! Thanks for your encouragement.
    Christina

  70. Patti-Cakes,
    Yes, I’m overwhelmed with the love and support from non-DNA contributors and it feels really good! Thanks for the love!
    Christina

  71. Kristi,
    I LOVE your lists!!! Darn! Why didn’t I think of easier ways to get attention??? This advocacy work has cost me and Don so much. Since I started OSA, our car was repossessed, we’ve cut back to 1-2 meals per day, we’ve struggled to keep the internet bill paid and all the other personal and OSA related expenses paid. Until two people gave me some clothes last month, I was down to wearing one pair of jeans and T-shirts with stains and holes. Don has three pairs of jeans, but they all have holes in them. But do you know what? Neither of us have any regrets and we’ll continue to speak out until we have no more breath left.

    Your friendship means so much to me. Even though we don’t communicate very often, your love is a support to me when things get tough.
    Love,
    Christina

  72. Sylvana,
    I’m sorry that you experienced the same kind of betrayal. My mother’s betrayal taught me what NOT to do with my daughter and I’m thankful that I have such a wonderful relationship with Bethany now.

    Thanks for sending blessings my way. Blessings to you, too!
    Christina

  73. Patty,
    I agree that despite my mom’s best efforts, her true colors show through. Thanks for sharing your insights and for your ever-true friendship.
    Love,
    Christina

  74. For Christina’s Egg Donor (not “Mother):

    I work in the crisis field and I it’s rare that anything I read or hear anymore can make me angry. But you, woman, are disgusting and the most vile of examples of how women contribute to the culture of misogyny that is rampant in our country and around the world. You should be proud of your daughter, and the steps she has taken to heal. Your words are an affrontery and offense to YOUR CHILD. You are a poor excuse for a woman, a mother, a wife, or a human being.

    I have only one Bible verse left to quote to you: Luke 17:2 “It were better for [her] that a millstone were hanged about [her] neck, and [she] cast into the sea, than that [she] should offend one of these little ones.”

    You have a lot of preparation to do in order to meet your Maker (not the least of it asking for your daughter’s forgiveness). Sounds like you’re going to be in for a tough time…

  75. I am so thankful I found this blog. I have been a victim of sexual abuse from my father and grandfather. My mother is just neglectful non existant in my life. But what really hurt is when I wanted to take a stand and report my father to cps. Apparently, they called him and he denied and told my aunt. She calls me crying and cant believe I would do something.so horrible to my father. All of this has led to severe depression and wrong choices of becoming a victim of human trafficking. I still struggle with all of this bc its so fresh but I am seeking help. It hurts when ur family doesnt support you but today I am thankful to know I am not alone.

  76. Christina,
    It is horrible when your own mother betrays you. I think it is vastly more destructive than anything that your father could do to you. My own mother has told everyone in our family that it is my husband of 40+ years that is the one that is abusing me. My cousin told me a few weeks ago that if I could just accept the truth that my parents would be glad to “take me back into their loving arms”. I almost gagged.

    My father has told me that he is sorry, that he did not think that I would be hurt and my mother’s stance is “that was a long time ago, why are you worried about it now?” She was well aware at the time of the things he was doing; she even walked in on some of the episodes and said nothing. He started molesting me at age four and raped me almost daily from the age of eight. I managed to stop the rape when I was sixteen, but could not stop the begging from my father, the beatings by both of them and the emotional torture and abuse by both of them that continues until today. I stopped speaking to them in 1997, but things come back to me constantly and now I am faced with the lectures that if I don’t see them before they die, I will be damned before God.

    I am so grateful for your column and want you to know that you are always in my prayers. Stay strong. It is a day to day struggle. Please be assured that there are many of us behind you.

    Hugs and prayers,
    Linda

  77. It is so empowering to read the stories and amazing support provided by sharing experiennces. My brother sexually abused me growing up. when I was in my 20’s I phoned my brother and he admitted to sexually abusing me, my mother also did. Shortly after this, my brother and mother talked and totally denied that I had been abused. I made a statement to the RCMP and one of the officers told me my mother had said i had moved far away from them because I had been institutionailzed in a mental hospital (not true). It scared me when my brother said he had not married and had children because he “did not trust himself”. I have had no contact with my brother for many years. I had not contact with my parents for a number of years and then had limited contacted. I recently sent my parents a letter stating I no longer wished to have ANY contact with them, and I feel a certain sense of newfound freedom. We are truly all survivors and miracles!

  78. My heart hurts for you and other victims. I was raped by my older brother and our neighbor. I also remember being molested by another neighbor when we moved. I have felt peace w/ confronting my brother and parents. My parents did nothing to stop it. It started with touching and fear and ended with rape.

  79. Do you have any contact with your family and have you had any support/counselling?

  80. I really hope that Mary has read the responses to her post. I see she is not so keen to comment again!

  81. Keep doing what you are doing. I work for a Children’s Advocacy Center (1 of over 800 in the US) that assist child victims of sexual abuse in their disclosure, prosecution and investigation process. The statistics are alarming of the number of children whom adults enact these horrible crimes upon them. I believe YOU, and thank you for sharing your most personal story.

  82. Here’s what a good friend of mine just wrote to me and posted on my Facebook account when I was criticized by a few for “talking about it,” and after I received a horrendous email from a niece (40 years old) telling me I should be “making amends to the rest of the family.” My good friend hit all the nails on the head! I’m going to post this on my wall and everywhere!

    “Perps need to know that the survivors of the world will “out” them. One day there will be no more secret place where they can hide, and no more safe haven of complicity and silence, because the stigma will no longer be with the abused, but with the abusers, where it should always have been.”

  83. Thanks Christina, for the bravery to tell your story. I was sexually abused as a child too. But until I was in my 40s, I never knew how far back it went. I just thought I had been sexually abused by a friend of my parents (with dad’s blessings). I had had surgery on my uterus as a baby. A doctor told me. Even he wouldn’t explain why this happened. I suppose the subject is taboo, even though it happened in the early 60s. The abuse did not stop there…it went on for years. It wasn’t all sexual though, a lot of it was emotional, or physical in nature.

    To the best of my knowledge, I was born completely healthy. I was never told by either of my parents….I do remember being knowledgeable about the birds & bees long before other children were taught. I would explain the birds & bees to other children. I didn’t understand why they didn’t know what I knew. My parents sure weren’t interested in doing their job as guide or counselor. I was left alone often, even as a very young child. Hugs, kisses, & other forms of affection did not exist in my world. I witnessed things that most little kids would never have been exposed to by mentally balanced parents. Sorry that there are so many who share similar stories to mine.

    Thanks again for sharing your story.

    January

  84. January,
    I can relate to knowing about sex before other children my age did. My mom tried to have “the talk” with me when I was 13 (that was so unusual for her since we didn’t ever talk about much of anything important) and I’d already known for years. I remember thinking about what a weird thing sex was when I was 7 and I’d known about it long before then too.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

    Christina

  85. I am sitting here in tears, I feel so blessed to have found this site. Christina the words you wrote are to a large extent as if they were coming out of me. I, like another responder have forgotten a huge piece of my life. When I was younger I used to make sure I took pictures of everyone so I could remember them. I have been in abusive relationships and now finally am single, I was terrified to leave my exhusband as he would threaten my life. I gained a significant amount of weight and he left me, thank god. I have always battled with weight, as I feel safer when I am heavy. Then men don’t gawk at me. I am to this day broken to a huge extent due to the abuse, but mostly due to the reaction that my family had to me talking about the abuse. When I reported it I was 15 and was asked to leave the home by my mother. She chose the abuser over me, I fell into a live of alcohol, drugs and whatever else I could get to subside the hurt. I recently went to my families in Iowa for Thanksgiving. The entire family had been planning to get together for about a year. I was devastated (and still am) the entire family left me on Thanksgiving to spend it w/ the abuser, I felt like I had been abused all over again. It’s tearing me up inside, because I have now cut off contact w/ my entire family. I made it clear to them as I completely broke down how badly their choice hurt me. I wouldn’t have gone if I knew that was going to happen. The family members all made it seem I was the selfish one for not “being willing to share them.” I guess I don’t understand how people can be so cruel. My heart feels broken. Each time my mother calls I can’t bring myself to talk to her. How do I tell her she has broken my heart for the last time and I have to end the relationship? Any support or advice would b greatly appreciated!

  86. Lydia, you’ve told a heart-breaking story, so similar to my own! My mother did everything she could to destroy me, even on her death bed, and many family members continue on “in her name.”

    Don’t give up and never stop telling the truth.

    These “Honor Killings” have to stop. Defamation and mistreatment of survivors has to stop and I hope that with the more and more people who are speaking out about how awful the families treat the survivor when they do “speak out,” the “why didn’t you tell someone” people will realize there’s more to it than that.

    Keep up the good work. We are all “on our way home.” Thanks to everyone here.

    Dear God, please show us The Way. We are all trying to find our way Home. Amen.

  87. Hi, I wished you lived near me! I am in my 40’s and feel utterly alone. I kind of talked and wrote about my past to my therapist but it still hurts and I still think of it daily. What is wrong? I am alone and afraid at living. I think my therapist is wondering why it’s still bothering me.

  88. Thank you for your words, Catherine! Last week my mother sent me another text and called, I finally texted back and explained that I need space and time to heal. I was studying about how to end toxic relationships and discovered that I do not have to tell her it is over and I never want to see her again. I did tell her I chose not to have contact at this time due to the relationship with her being emotionally draining and let her know I would contact her again if and when I felt I was able to. I told her I hoped she could respect my feelings. I also explained the magnitude of hurt I felt for the actions she took and did not take when I was a child, it was great opening up that way. I finally held her accountable for what she did. Not suprisingly she did not acknowledge the pain she has caused me; however, that’s ok. I have empowered myself by being a raw and candid as possible. I feel so much better opening up and so much stronger taking a stand for myself that no one ever took for me. I love me and will not allow myself to be torn down by my immediate family again.

    Dianne I completely understand what you mean about the healing process taking so long, it seems that is completely normal. It is a life altering experience that shapes the people we become, to a large extent. I am hyper vigilant at all times to ensure I am never again a victim. I am 36 years old and also am impacted daily by the abuse. Give yourself time to heal, be good to you, make you number one. Reach out to others even by way of internet to connect with others that understand how you feel. There is no rate at which we have to heal, be kind to you and be patient with you. I have decided to start living for me, loving me in the gentle way I deserved to be loved as a child and was not. It is ok to hurt, it is ok to cry… each tear is a release that brings you closer to happiness. I am hugging you in my heart!

  89. How does one begin to overcome never having innocence and not ever being a child? I have always felt that it was just something I had to forget. My most recent thought is “If there is such a thing as reincarnation, I don’t want to come back rich or beautiful. I just want a mother who loves and protects me, and a father who truly believes I am precious.”

  90. i admire you for your courage in your understanding what has happened to you and all that goes along with it. While i often do not have the words to express everything i an trying to get across i have found this site to be so helpful. I myself have never been abused, my husband has as a child. Iam trying to have a better understanding of what he is, has, and will suffer through as he tries to recover from all of the horrible things done to him. I am noticing similarities in other victims behavior and reactions that he has and i would greatly appreciate any help in understanding any of this. The main one now is his adult relationships with the abusers. I DO NOT understand it and my love and protective feelngs for him i fear are clouding my thoughts and judgement of how to best support him in this stage of his recovery. Or if he is simply being further vitcimized in another way by these people. There are multiple abusers that have contact with him. To put it simply Pretty Much all of the adults abused all of the kids growing up in this family dynamic, or assisted others in the abuse. Any thoughts???

  91. Lorretta, you put it so well! I am the only one who left and spoke out against the abuse of my father and my enabling, denying mother. No wonder the rest of my siblings (there are eight children in the family) hate me so much! They are all thick as thieves and have little or no contact with anyone else in the “outside world.” No friends outside “the family either.”

    You put it so well:

    ” The main one now is his adult relationships with the abusers. I DO NOT understand it and my love and protective feelngs for him i fear are clouding my thoughts and judgement of how to best support him in this stage of his recovery. Or if he is simply being further vitcimized in another way by these people. There are multiple abusers that have contact with him.”

    I don’t know what to do. They hate me and I still receive hate mail even though I haven’t seen them in going on 30 years. They have destroyed my reputation wherever they can, but luckily they live on the other side of the country (I moved) so they can’t go after me physically. Mentally and emotionally I still don’t know how to disconnect and their rage and hostility and enmity still hurts me greatly, including my mother’s who is dead now going on three years. I am trying to learn how to pray but I don’t know how.

    I do know that the only way I started to get better was to cut off contact from my abusers and have no contact with them. Good luck to your husband and you… you didn’t describe how the abuse has affected him. Go with God and let us know.

  92. Loretta,
    I’m glad you found the site helpful. I’m glad to hear that you’re so supportive of your husband and his healing process. There’s a good book for loved ones of abuse survivors that’s excellent. It’s called, “Allies in Healing”. You might find that helpful too.

    The primary thing that I tell loved ones of survivors is that the healing journey has to be led by the survivor. The timing, the pace, the methods–all of it needs to be chosen by him or her. Abuse is about power and control so it’s so vital that the healing process be about choices and empowerment. Acknowledging his right to choose a relationship with his (abusive) family is part of affirming his personal boundaries. So is letting him know that he doesn’t deserve abusive treatment. Even if he’s still being abused by them, it’s up to him to say no to that. However, if you have children it’s up to you to protect them so even if he chooses to submit to more abuse, it’s your responsibility to protect them and to model healthy boundaries to them. Does that make sense?

    Cutting off abusive relationships has been a long process in my healing journey. The more I’ve faced the issues that kept me in them, the more liberated I’ve become. Now abuse is foreign to me, though I used to feel very comfortable in it since it was all I knew. I hope your husband can value himself enough to keep himself safe from more abuse.

    Christina

  93. Christina, your response to Loretta was so incredibly perceptive and hit all the main points. You didn’t leave anything out… and explained, in part at least, why my sisters perhaps have maintained a relationship with the abusers. That was one part I could NEVER understand! I’m going to check into the book you mention, as I’m on “both sides of the fence” as survivor and so-called “role model,” even though I certainly don’t feel like one.

    Gracias, amiga… and to everyone here. May we all find our ways home. Catherine Todd

  94. This site is a breath of fresh air to me and it’s extremely strengthening to read all the journeys of healing and recovery from the pain of abuse. Thank you for sharing everyone! ;-) It seems that the journey to healing is never fully complete since there is the issue of forgiveness of abuser(s) that never fully goes away. I am all too familiar with this state of affairs and worst still, even reaching my 40s, I often find myself in the same state of denial that my parents kept me in about how the initial sexual abuse. There was definite ‘gaslighting’ going and it’s definitely to blame for vagueness in all sorts of aspects of my life. I’m also often in denial about how the subsequent cruelty at the hands of my own siblings and parents when they made me a virtual outcast in their home, has effected my life in almost every way. Not all bad has come from being forced to stand alone and being made ‘the black sheep’. I have definitely come away with vast compassion for others in a similar predicament and strength and determination when it comes to helping others. However I still frequently suffer from self-hate, lack of trust in others, inability to forge close relationships, doubt, anger, procrastination, repulsion at my body and every aspect of my being, depression etc. So, as you can see, I am still not entirely there as the raw pain of memory comes back to bite me occasionally when I least expect it. I still frequently blame myself for ‘misunderstanding’ and making a big deal about 5 years of varying forms of abuse, including sexual, at the hands of my uncle. Since it was my uncle and not a parent or someone I had to live with permanently as some of the brave contributors to this site have had to, I was able to go to my parents to tell them what had happened, to be reassured and nurtured, or so I thought. I was wrong. I expected sympathy and support but after my parents contacted my uncle to hear his side of the story, they got back to me and told me his initial molestation was not molestation and that his subsequent flirty and ‘stalker’ behaviour was because I flirted with him. I remember being shocked at the time at the age of 10, but since brushing things under the carpet seemed to be what my parents were experts in so I dropped the situation and tried to get on with my life. When my uncle visited I got used to his attentions and said nothing of how creepy it all was. I got on well at school almost because I began to isolate myself from family and friends and I thought wrongly that my doing this it would all go away. I realise now that these things don’t just go away, but I had no one to tell, so I kept pretending everything was alright although my later depression and anorexia suggested otherwise. During my teens i began secretly plotting to leave my family home at the earliest opportunity. I was clearly more angry than I thought at my parents betrayal. I thought I’d accepted what my elders and betters had told me as gospel, but it just kept gnawing away at me and has come up to bite me again and again over the past 30 years in non-verbal ways like depression, anxiety, panic attacks, fear of being alone with male work colleagues and also choosing to dress in the least sexy way imaginable (according to my husband ;-))). What really hammered the pain in for the long term was that I kept assuming that my parents and family might have a kind and rational response to the situation (being church-going Christians), but I now realise that unconsciously, they live in a victim-blaming culture that I hope to rid myself of. For example, I attempted to address the issue with them again at 17 and again was told again that it was all my fault, that I was flirty with my uncle and had asked for it. I stupidly walked into the flames again at around 32 just before I got married and wanted to wipe the slate clean. I asked them to reconsider their views and again I was beaten down with the “Oh you’re not still harping on about that are you?” Since then my sister has got onto the ‘let’s blame Cath for everything,’ bandwagon and so I am still persona non grata in my family home. I was basically blamed for her divorce even though I barely ever saw her and her husband during their four year marriage. So, what I’m asking now is whether it is pointless to imagine that I can ever have a healthy relationship with my family again in the light of what has happened over the past 30 years? I’m not sure I will ever be able to forgive them for their coldness and inability to listen to me as a child for whom it took an immense amount of courage to come forward and ask for help and yet I still, because of my self loathing and self doubt, occasionally take my 5 year old daughter to see them. My husband thinks I’m insane to do this, but since I don’t see their actions as deliberate, but part of a world-wide culture of victim blaming and rape culture that I feel powerless to do anything about, I let them see their grandchild. I will probably never tell her what they did to me, even though I believe in honestly and truth.

  95. Catherine (my name also), reading your story brought real tears to my eyes. I know all about my so-called “Christian family” ostracizing me and making me the black sheep of the family for coming forward with the truth… even to the extent of my youngest sister and her husband, Julia and David Graves, who is a minister of the Methodist church in Virginia, just a few hours from me. I haven’t seen him in at least 30 years, but he “knows I am lying” because he has heard the “same consistent stories about me” all these years. He “KNOWS.” He counsels his parishioners and my sister runs a children’s bible group! I can only imagine what they are doing to these innocents in the guise of “sheparding their flock.” It makes me sick to my stomach.

    I must caution you, though, at bringing your daughter to visit your family. I did the same thing with my son, thinking that surely they wouldn’t harm him the way they harmed me, and I wanted him to have some kind of happy memories about “family” since I had a few with my own grandparents growing up, but that was one of the biggest mistakes of my life. My family couldn’t wait to “fill him in” with all the horrible negative damaging lies they have been telling about me all my life, and he was greatly harmed by it, to the point that he no longer speaks to me now that he is an adult, as he believes everything they told him. He really believes everything they told him. Talk about a knife straight in my heart… this poisoning of my only child is the worst thing these people could have done. They have destroyed an innocent child AGAIN… First me, now him.

    Don’t think they aren’t going to do the same thing to your own daughter. Why wouldn’t they? They HAVE to destroy the TRUTH and they will stop at nothing to do so. Having any contact with my family at all was the biggest mistake I ever made and losing my son is one of the main regrets of my life. All because I took him there and bought him plane tickets to go to “family reunions” where he would come back not speaking to me, never telling me what had gone on. But the poisonous indoctrination they gave him destroyed him and me. It’s the saddest thing I have ever known.

    Yes, being ostracized has “made me strong” but I would give anything to have my only child back, and forgiveness doesn’t enter into it. I am just dumbfounded that “Christians” could behave this way. I ask God to forgive them because I surely can’t.

    Here is my mantra and my prayer:

    Heal my mind
    Heal my body
    Heal my relationships
    Gracias, Amen.

    Forgive me Lord
    Forgive them Lord
    Show me The Way
    Gracias, Amen

    “The winds of grace blow all the time, all we need do is set our sails.”
    Dear God please show us The Way

  96. Catherine, you wrote: ” I was basically blamed for her divorce even though I barely ever saw her and her husband during their four year marriage. ”

    I was blamed for another of my sister’s divorce too! “If I hadn’t disclosed what had happened, she would never have gotten divorced.” I also “ruined her Christmas” talking about it. EVERYTHING in that family is ‘MY FAULT” and my mother led the charge, in her lifetime and even after death. So believe me, it’s doubtful that a family so steeped in anger and denial will ever change. I haven’t found it so, even though I wasted my entire life day-dreaming and hoping it would be so.

    I am 64 years old now, and after 30 years of no contact they are even more hateful than before. I thought that surely at my mother’s death bed, “all would be forgiven” and resolution would occur, but my mother and her minions (my sisters) continue “reaching from the grave” to hurt me with hate mail and email attacks, and I have had to block them all from my Facebook account, send their emails to “spam” and make my online blog “hidden and private.” You can’t imagine the torture they have put me through.

    I learned this the hard way when they would send emails titled “Happy Birthday” and then I would open them and they would be filled with the most vile accusations and hate-filled lies. They have reached into both sides of my family and after 30 years of not seeing anyone, the first thing out of their mouth was “so the black sheep returns.” My family is a group of seriously defective individuals with severe personality disorders, well-educated with professional jobs, but so many have prescription drug and alcohol addictions, and incest is just one of the components of their disorders.

    Families that accept incest are evil to the core, and one day family members who “aided and abetted” these crimes against the innocent will be held legally responsible, just as family members are convicted for “aiding and abetting a criminal act.” Mothers who hide their thieving or murderous offspring are convicted now, and one day these same mothers will be convicted for hiding their pedophile husbands or relatives incestous acts. That day has yet to come, but one day it will.

    In the meantime, think carefully about the spiritual viruses and illnesses you are exposing your own child to, being around them. I’ll never forget the one time my son spent two weeks with them (the only time they allowed him to visit) and he came back twisted and deformed, talking “just like them.” It was awful. So bad, in fact, my husband said “never again.” And that was that, but the damage was done. I paid for my son to attend family reunions after that and they filled him so full of lies and shame… the shame was the worst for him, saying “Do you know what your mother is REALLY like?”

    And I didn’t know why he wouldn’t talk to me for weeks afterwards. I didn’t know what had gone on until I was cleaning out papers in the basement and found things he had written from long ago, and the tears just poured from my eyes. I am crying still.

    Be aware. The Devil’s Den is alive and well, and only God and the angels can set us free. I don’t know how to do this, but I pray daily that God will one day “show me The Way.”

  97. OMG!
    I bumped into your website today (actually my husband did), as I try to find healing from my own abuse. I bumped into your website/blog because I am starting to create my own story. I read through your website and feel so touch and can relate so much to you. Words you say, phrases you use, memories you have. I was not abuse by my own father but abuse by my family doctor who was a “friend” of my family.
    I was being abuse before I even realized I was being abused… he told me why he was examining me and how he had to examine me and I believe him. He did this for almost 3 years! monthly he would ask me to come back and so I did, the abuse continue :( … until he decided to take it further and he tried to rape me on the examination table. He had groom me for a long time now it was his time to take it further. I escape him! this happen 20 yrs ago.
    I finally open up and told my story 4 years ago unfortunately I just got word from the College of physicians that there is no enough evidence to find him guilty. It was a blow!
    I had enough of holding back and want to tell my story. I’m starting a blog with the hope of finding healing.
    Thanks for sharing your story. Thanks for inspiring me!

  98. Omgoodness, I just read your story and I’m in tears in my heart because that’s what Im dealing with now.. My 4 children coming out telling me they were abused and it has opened up a down feathered pillow in my mind of memories of my sexual abuse. It’s been two years since the incident and the DA and Det have been very helpful but every time I get a call saying were closer to the predator, it’s like a reset button of emotions have been pushed. that’s why I just decided to write a book about the craziness my mom went through which has actually helped me to examine my self and life.. But again I thank you for your story because I felt like such a horrible mother for not seeing the signs , since I was abused my self, but to know that someone else has dealt with what I’m dealing with , is comforting.

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