The Fear of Being Re-victimized

Sep 13th, 2010 | By | Category: All Posts, Discovering I'm Empowered

by Christina Enevoldsen & Bethany

Childhood sexual abuse often leaves the survivor vulnerable to more abuse and afraid of being victimized again. In this ten minute audio discussion, Christina Enevoldsen and Bethany share how they turn their violations in adulthood into tools for healing.

“I had the belief that if I defended myself, I’ll get in trouble because the abuse taught me that even things like wiggling or squealing or doing anything got me in more trouble. As children, it was very difficult to protect our boundaries, but we’re adults now and we have that ability. So even though we were trained for so long that we don’t have that right, we do.”

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Related Posts:
Power Play: How to Recognize an Abuser
The Wolf in Shepherd’s Clothing: The “Benevolent” Abuser
Power Trip: How to Journey From Overpowered to Empowered
Sexual Harassment and the Truth About Freezing in Fear

Christina Enevoldsen

I’m Christina Enevoldsen and I’m the cofounder of Overcoming Sexual Abuse and the author of The Rescued Soul: The Writing Journey for the Healing of Incest and Family Betrayal. My passion is exploring new ways to express my empowered new life. I’ve recently discovered the joy of waterslides, the delightful scented lotion from Bath & Body Works, “Dark Kiss” and hosting princess tea parties for my granddaughters. My husband and I live in Scottsdale, Arizona and share three children and six grandchildren.


Bethany, along with her mother, Christina Enevoldsen, is the cofounder of Overcoming Sexual Abuse, an online resource for male and female abuse survivors looking for practical answers and tools for healing. Besides helping abuse survivors see the beauty within themselves, she enhances the beauty of others as a professional make-up artist and has worked in television, film and print. She lives in Los Angeles.

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  1. I am listening to the both of you and I can so relate! And Bethany that is awesome that you stood up for yourself and defended yourself! And Christina I do understand about feeling like I had to protect my abusers! I am still having to address this in my own life and with each step I take from standing up to those who try to deny the abuse happened to speaking out has been a healing for me and made me realize I do have value and worth. What I am learning that if a person gets in my personal space or to close to me I have a right to respond to that and I too have set those boundaries in my life to help me to see what is proper and respectful and what isn’t!!

    This is awesome and thank you both for sharing this! And yes as they say “YOU GO GIRL” (no disrespect intended because both of you are courageous women)!

  2. Hi Nikki,
    I completely agree! Speaking out is a declaration that you have value. I admire the way you speak out. It’s good for you AND other survivors.

    I used to focus so much on my defeats– how I SHOULD have done this or that better. That way of thinking just kept me defeated and in fear. The way I approach my experiences now acknowledges the ways I need to change, but instead of beating myself up, I ask, “What belief led me to act that way?” and “Where did that belief come from?” It’s been liberating to use those experiences that I used to feel defeated by and victimized by to help me heal.
    Hugs, Christina

  3. Nikki,

    Thanks for your support and encouragement. I’m so glad that you could relate to this post and that it was a help to you. 🙂


  4. I have done the same thing in my life I was so focused on what I considered failures in my life that I could not see past to even see the reality of the achievements that I had made. I say “considered failures” simply because what I realize now is what I thought was me “failing” was not me at all it was however the failure of other people in the way they treated me. This does not take out the responsibility that I have of my own life and actions but back then I really didn’t understand nor realize I had a responsibility to myself, that is how much I was defeated within myself and how much my identity was removed from me.

    Now I see that I do have a responsibility to myself and that is to respect me and that I have a right to defend myself when need be. That is the hardest realization for individuals who have been through abuse is realizing our own self responsibility (meaning the right to respect and defend ourselves). I was always passive when someone was abusive to me, I would make excuses or I would admit that it happened but just pass it off or used bible scripture to pass it off with (I know that sounds twisted but it is true) … but what I know now that when we hide from the truth we are hurting ourselves far more then the pain of admitting and accepting the truth. And honestly the bible was never intended to be used to hide from the truth and that is what I was doing plus that is a form of self-spiritual abuse because then I was using God’s word against myself by hiding behind and denying the truth!

    And again thank you both!

  5. Thank you so much for posting this!

  6. I have already been re-victimised in a film group and then raped. there are evil networks of people who seem to want to continue the punishment cycle of child abuse on adult survivors.
    anyway this is my story…catherine

    I was abused as young as 4years of age by many family in-laws and the earliest memory I have is being in a bath with congealed blood in my virgina and my mum saying to my dad “where did she get that from?” I remember feeling overwhelming fear, and crying not being able to tell them.

    By the age of 7, I was being sexually abused on a daily basis by my great uncle, and had endured regular abuse from both him and my grandmother who were both
    serve alcoholics. When I was 4 or 5 my grandmother was so drunk she burnt the house down, or someone had deliberately lit it, we don’t know – but that event changed
    my life significantly.
    Both my sister, and I were going thru regular abuse, but later it was revealed this same abuser had molested many kids, including my father and his sister as children
    I often used to escape into a fantasy world to deal with the abuse. It was very shameful and dirty, having an alcoholic smelly urine saturated old man constantly
    touching my genitals and forcing me to touch his genitals or kiss him and he was prone to violence. Push my head to his crutch. Or want to act out dirty magazines on me.
    He often had epilepsy and could develop a terrible temper.
    My grandmother used to encourage the abuse. This had devastating affect on my sense of trust with people. I often felt so dirty, I couldn’t sleep at night, and would sleep
    on my mothers bedroom floor. She’d hold my hand til I fell asleep.
    A family friend committed suicide when I was 7 and that upset me so much but I hid that from so many people after one day his son bashed me up.

    It seemed to be around 7 when everything broke down for me. My aunty was ill with breast cancer at the same time. The members of those families just started attacking me like a pack of vultures. In the end I was being molested by 5 different people, some were teenagers of the deceased. There were family arguments, and the parties we went to would just ended in punch ups and further abuse. I have never enjoyed parties much as I often came away feeling so degridated and abuse. On one occasion, I was so afraid I vomited over my dress as this big man, was trying to tip over the car with us in it.
    I had overwhelming fears all through my schooling and was in a car accident
    when I was about 19 years old. I have physically hurt myself when my university marks were bad, and I just don’t even think that I can begin to describe the amount of self hate
    and loss of life I went thru. During my teens and twenties were some of the lonely at times. I had a social phobia and felt such deep embarrassment that I was carrying around
    a very shame and guilt based personality from childhood. I never really had many friends, and found it hard to keep jobs, stick to friendships, courses, even fun activities and
    there was no real space in my life for romantic interests. I lacked self confidence to even try with guys. And I often battled depression, poor health and weight gain. The weight
    gain was a way for me to protect myself against sexual attention. Often at parties another uncle sexually assaulted me.

    I often call this satanic ritual abuse because there were members of my family in-laws and friends would treated me so badly, because it felt so controlled cyclic and gang mentality.
    I think they often forgot that I was only a little girl back in the 70’s and 80’s. When my great uncle started molesting me daily and during my grade 3 I felt like I had a
    nervous breakdown, with all this death, and arguments and sex abuse my marks at school really started to suffer significantly. I recall loosing it one day after my aunty and
    Werner died, I got under a table to hide and cry, I was so apart, I began splitting – this is where the fantasy world of pretending that these things were happening to someone else became a mechanism to cope with the trauma. This is were I developed a very low self esteem.
    I felt like I was sinning against god letting him abuse me, I tried so often to make him stop. He would say “this is our little secret. this is our special game, shh don’t tell anyone, you’ll get into trouble if you do”. I had my first ****** at the age of 6 or 7, once again I felt like I had sinned against god. I tried to tell teachers and no one wanted to listen or help- one time I was told out right I wasn’t believed. That undermined my sense of reality.
    I missed a lot of schooling and was suffering from a panic disorder but I had no idea what it was, all I knew was I got so nervous, frightened, would shake uncontrollably
    and feel like my head was swimming and I was going to chock or have an epileptic fit or faint. My shyness was overwhelming and when I was moved to a catholic school I was behind in so much work compared to them, I had to work extra hard to get up to their level. My shyness was labelled by a priest as a sin. This made me feel a “bad” person. I was assaulted at the catholic school and left during year 9 and later continued
    by correspondence and somehow I managed to go to university but never completed any study, as the trauma of the abuse never left me.
    In my teens I would avoid being around the people. When I was 14, I was able to stand up to my great uncle and say “NO” to any of his sexual advances. I kept the abuse a secret for so long, my parents did believe me when it all came out when I was 25, and my sister had had a nervous breakdown after her marriage broke up. That’s when my university work started failing again, and later it got worse after my grandmother died and when I was assaulted I was later raped, and had a mild stroke/complete collapse. I was forced to give up my law degree.
    I had bad experiences with counsellors and found the support groups and spiritual healing methods the best to help me. Reading the book “the courage to heal” and doing many of the work book exercises help me sort out my emotional state. I did go to a counsellor who only abused me further and would say demeaning things to me that hurt the very fabric of my personality and even today are not repaired. She didn’t help me even though her husband was a police officer and we could have taken the main abuser to court as my
    great uncle was still alive at the time. She would abuse me further when I told her another uncle of mine was sexually assaulting me as a teenager and into my twenties. I was even more afraid of him then I was of my great uncle, as he had a history of violence with regularly bashed his wife, and was very aggressive
    – in and out of court cases for bad behaviour.
    The sexual abuse and emotional abuse I went through for over 15years from the age of 4, from my uncle… has damaged my personality and left significant trust issues for me.
    It has damaged my career, love and sex life, as I have been labelled either fidget or lesbian by people and that only adds to the hurt and frustrations I have endured. I have missed out on one a great deal of living life to the full potential I could have with many long summers, evenings and heartbreaks, birthdays etc alone.

    I have no real friends and many of my so-called friends have been the first to take me down severely. I was a virgin technically til the age of 27 when raped.
    When I was 26 I had a partial genital circumcision to open my virgina and had a full virginal examination I was still a virgin which was the worst thing to do. It was extremely painful and I still suffer pain from this today.
    The best advice I can give anyone is get the help, tell your story. I left it too late to speak up and they got away with it. It has affected my health and income opportunities and self esteem. DON”T LIVE THE SHAME, as well as the abuse out of pride and fear as I did. Speak up. Taking the words from Forum Communicators: “I will speak up, when I ought to!”
    I believe there is someone/group of in-laws who have been doing satanic ritual abuse on me since I was born- burning down my grandmothers house, planning sex assaults, rapes and bashings on me to ruin my life. this person pretends to like me but is constantly working against me having anything good in my life. I want this evil corruption punished and made accountable by law for what they have done to me.

  7. Wow
    I recently found your site
    @ 24 year old I am suffering to cope with abuse
    I really needed to hear the different stories; it helped to solidify what’s the ‘proper’ way of handling abuse.
    I liked the term ‘freeze’ & the explanations provided on why we act/respond the way we do

  8. Cathy,
    You’ve suffered through so much. I’m so sorry for all the abuse and all the effects. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m glad you’re continuing to heal and speak out.
    Hugs, Christina

    I’m glad you found us! I hope you stick around and participate in more of our discussion and comments.

  9. I was watching a situation/comedy show yesterday, where each woman described her ‘first time’ w/ a man. Every one of them had these relatively wonderful experiences w/ doing it for the first time. And in the comments section, other people talked about THEIR first times, and the comments were relatively “normal.”
    I mean not one of them had any idea, or that’s the impression *I* got, that sex could EVER be bad.
    I thought to myself, I wonder what a first time like theirs would feel like?
    The only woman who’s experience came close to how it was the first time I did it was using her story to enhance the comedic aspect of the show.
    She said ‘It was nice being w/ Charley, once I understood that’s what you’re supposed to do. That it wasn’t some colossal joke.’ (I still think that’s funny, but she said more that matched my feelings)
    She asked her roommate, ‘I mean didn’t you think it was a ridiculous thing to do the first time?’
    Her roommate, who’s playing the part of a promiscuous woman, said ‘Nooooooo.’ Looking all surprised.
    The woman married to Charley concluded she was okay w/ it, but added that it took her five years before she realized it made your eyes go back in your head.
    Even though that was told for comedic effect, I mostly feel the way Charley’s wife did about it. All of it is uncomfortable no matter what my body betrays otherwise.

  10. Oh. I forgot to mention the woman whose husband took “three seconds from start to finish.”
    I had a man like that too, and I feel like she did: That it always seemed to happen before I was in the room.

  11. I realise that fear of being revictimised is one of the things that’s kept me alone all these years. I put up walls without realising it because of that fear.

  12. Fi,
    I had exactly the opposite response to my fear. I figured I’d be abused anyway, so I walked into relationships accepting that I’d be hurt. I craved relationships so much that danger was just the price to pay.

    By the way, even though your walls aren’t all down, I’m sure glad that they’re down enough to allow me to get to know you. You’re an amazing person and I’m glad to know you.

  13. I think the fear that maybe it will happen again is stopping me from getting into a relationship, as I probably just seem offish!

  14. Sharon,
    I read the book, “The Gift of Fear” and that helped me sort out valid fears that were meant to protect my life from the fears of the past that limited my life. I’m much less likely to ignore red flags like I used to so I’m more confident in my relationship decisions. It helped me a lot!

  15. reading all of this is interesting, i can remember having a hard time learning. today i still seem way different than other women, i feel like a little kid, and like i don’t meet up, pretending everything is alright and believing someday God will give me a normal man. but that is not what it takes but that is what is in my head….normal would be good.

  16. Sandi,
    I can very much relate to feeling like a little kid. That feeling led to wanting to be rescued since that was my only hope since I believed that I couldn’t improve anything on my own. There were so many reasons for that and as I’ve continued to heal, I’ve felt more and more empowered to affect change in my life in a very purposeful and determined way. Keep going and you’ll see how empowered you are!

  17. Go you! I, like most childhood abuse victims, have been re-victimised and I can really relate to feeling like there’s a target on my back – mine’s an elf, I can’t see or hear him, but he shouts out so loud, anyone in a 100 mile radius knows where to find me and knows I won’t stand up for me. That elf invites everyone to come and take advantage, do their worst without any fear of recrimination.

    I recently had an unwelcome experience but until hearing the two of you talk, didn’t realise how much I learnt from it. I was touched in a way, similar to the incident Bethany spoke about on the elevator and, although I didn’t respond immediately, after realising how much it affected me, and with the support of my husband and a good friend, I reported the incident and, a few months later, was informed that the perp (perv) got 6 months behind bars and would be on the sex offenders register for 7 years (not quite the castration I was hoping for, but he’s the first I held accountable for his actions and boy, that feels good).

    The experience also led me to restart my journey towards recovery, one I postponed 10 years ago because it was too painful, and I didn’t feel as secure in my relationship with my husband as I do now. Our relationship is stronger because of this incident and in a weird way, I’m grateful it happened.

  18. Hurt Again,
    Good for you for reporting that incident! What a great way to validate yourself. I’m so glad that you used such an awful experience to propel you forward. Thanks for letting us know.

  19. This is my first time ever posting on the a board. I notice there are some very brave people to tell their story. As a child I was molested on an Air Force Base at the age of 7. I remember him telling me not to tell my parents or he would kill them. I never went to counseling and only my closet friends and husband knows. I have done well with my life for the most part. I reminded myself that I was not to blame and it is not my fault he is a sick person. I never let that hinder me and was lucky it only happened once. However, a month ago my husband who we are now getting a divorce and I am preparing to move. Felt it would be okay to grab me around my hip bones and pull me to him. My back was to his face. As he was hold me against him he was telling me how I like sex and no matter the what I would have sex with him. I was crying and screaming let me go I do not want you touching me much less have sex. I was struggling to get my things and away from him. Then he pulled up my red dress and groped my lady part and slapped me on my buttock. I been seeing someone and have flashback and still pretty jumpy. However, I place a military “no contact” order on him and he was removed from the house when I returned a couple days ago. I am getting my stuff and getting out as fast as I can. Now, I do not think I will ever wear a Red Dress again.

  20. I am working on building boundaries. I have been revictimized. The most recent was an assault, rape. I could never figure out why I seemed to be targeted but now it’s starting to make sense. I also put up walls so as to not allow anyone to get too close to me, especially guys. It always seemed strange that I have
    such a hard time trusting people that are worthy of my trust and then I turn around and trust those that abuse me. It is almost like I won’t allow good in my life, i try to sabatoge it somehow

  21. Stephanie,
    Oh, that’s such an awful thing for him to do and say to you! I’m glad you’re getting away from him. You deserve to be treated better.

    I can relate to trusting the wrong people. Actually, I discovered that it’s not that I actually trusted them, I just allowed myself to be vulnerable knowing I was going to get hurt. That’s not the same as trust. I kept telling myself it would be okay, as though I knew it wasn’t going to be okay.

    I’m glad you’re working on your boundaries. You’re worth protecting!

  22. Awesome! I so appreciate this Facebook Page and Blog being made available.

  23. I was abused sexually and emotionally from the age of 2 to 14. At 14 I finally stood up for myself. It was my biological father that did it. I have been diagnosed with PTSD and Severe Depression. Nighttime is the worst for me, I have trouble sleeping because of nightmares. I am afraid of them because they feel so real. I have trouble coming out of my bedroom sometimes, let alone going ANYWHERE. It’s been 28 years……I haven’t seen my father since. One of the problems is that part of me still loves him and wants to see him. Another part of me hates him and wants him to just disappear!! It’s confusing……..VERY confusing. My mind doesn’t know what to think because I have all this stuff swirling around in my brain. I am now 42 years old with 5 children and a husband. My father has ruined my life and, worse yet, affected my children, my husband now and my ex husband. Not to mention the rest of my family. I am on Celexa, but it doesn’t seem to be helping. Last year we found out I have a hole in the main valve of my heart. At some point it is going to have to be repaired, right now I am just being monitered. They fear I could have a stroke, so they have me take an aspirin a day to help keep my blood flowing properly. So much is going on and I really don’t know how to handle it. Knowing I am not alone has helped me more than anything up to this point. Somehow I have to beat this. I just need to find my way. I think child molester should automatically get life in prison, bcause when a child is molested, part of that child is murdered. I so want to be a forensic photographer. But how can I do it if I am afraid to leave my house?

  24. It was my very real fear that my brother wanted to voilate me after I seperated from my husband and would have if I wasn’t protective. I felt vulnerable and frightened of him showing up. Especially after he had spent the night at my sister’s and she had gotten up in the middle of the night to him masturbating on her couch with a dirty magazine. He saw her and continued, he meant for her to see. I was not going to tolerate anymore and made it clear to my parents he was not to come around. They took tremendous offence to that, but I didn’t care. It was my home and I wanted my barriers. My siblings set up a discussion with them and it was to be for my benefit. That is the night the switch was flipped forever. Dad said how could I hurt my Mother this way, that I was out of the will and they were next. They told them they were worth 3 million that night, they blackmailed them. They got what they wanted, they all did. My siblings got the money and my parents through them continue to paint me as the blacksheep. Whatever makes them feel better I say. All the heartaches and pain I don’t regret turning my back on lies. It was a choice for me of live or die.
    I came back to Mom after Dad died and we had some good moments. she helped me financially. She left in a ledger she wanted things equal and showed my son, she adored him and wouldn’t lie to him ever. Siblings deny it and followed the will my Dad made. I always felt their welcoming back was phoney by their actions and how things finished proved that. So it didn’t hurt as much the second time because my instinct protected my heart. I forgive them, they are ignorant even though they know better deep down, I won’t forget because they made a choice. I have wiped my hands of this family for the last time. Time for me, time for my own family that was dragged in by them and hurt in the process, but now it brings to light for them what I was confronting and explains to them better then I ever could why I went off the deep end. We are mending.
    My sister called my daughter the other day and asked if I tried to call her. I said not possible she is fantasizing.
    Just her way to try and bring up the subject to make it look legitimate,after my daughter had told her she was not to bring me up or else. Is she being haunted by her choices, I hope so, I hope they all are. They conscience should bother them for what they’ve done.
    Money was more important 17 years ago when they went that night to speak in my defence only for all of them to line up against me when the threat of losing the inheritance came into it. If money wasn’t involved, if my Dad hadn’t pulled that trump card, they may have made my parents own up or at least respect my request to keep the perp brother away from me. Or they may have chosen to walk away from them too. and this is where I feel sorry for them. They are entertwined and wrapped up in the lies and are dysfunctional and toxic with one another. That will never change unless they get real, but for now hold fast like my parents do so they can keep doing what they are doing and justify it.
    I deal in truth, I am becoming freer every day with every revelation. I feel only sorrow for family that wasn’t and for them being twisted up by evil.

  25. Fear of Life,
    My heart goes out to you. I know it’s not easy to face these things. I’m glad you know you’re not alone and I hope that you continue to read along here and participate and join us in the journey. It’s worth it!

  26. Mary,
    I feel the same way about my family. I’m free and they aren’t. They have each other and I’m glad not to be a part of their sick, sick ways anymore. Yay for freedom!

  27. Mary,
    You are strong and perfect,your goodness make ur life worth,.

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