Why I Talk About My Childhood Abuse Over and Over

May 12th, 2012 | By | Category: All Posts, Steps Toward Healing

by Christina Enevoldsen

When I used to talk about my childhood sexual abuse, I heard familiar accusations: “You just want attention” or “Nobody likes a crybaby.” As I poured out the same story again and again to my friends, I felt guilty for wasting their time.

I believed that there was a rule that I was allowed to share a bad experience with one or two people at the most and then I had to stop talking about it or I was “just being a victim”. Yet I was compelled to keep talking about it even with the internal accusations and the guilt that it caused.

I was warned that “dwelling” on things doesn’t serve any purpose—that it would just make me feel worse. But I was already depressed and it wasn’t from talking about my abuse. I was depressed because my trauma and the feelings that went with it were locked up inside of me. As I started to see some benefit from talking about my abuse, I started to question the limited talking “rule”.

Where did I get the idea that attention is bad or selfish? When I wanted someone to hear me, why did the voice in my head say, “You think you’re so important, but you’re not”.

One of my earliest memories is of myself as a two year old. I don’t remember what I needed or if it was a physical or emotional need, but when I found my parents, they were with my baby brother. They acted annoyed that I had needs too. Their reaction communicated that I was expecting too much, that I was selfish, that having needs was something to be ashamed of.

Throughout my childhood, that message was reinforced in so many ways. I was emotionally abandoned if I cried or expressed “negative” feelings. My parents ignored my crying, so I coughed instead. My dad would come to my crib and mock my fake cough, but he wouldn’t acknowledge my needs or tend to them. His mocking told me that my needs weren’t important and added the additional message that I was a liar who exaggerated my needs.

I learned that I wasn’t tolerable unless I was happy so I learned to shut up about my needs and my pain. Acting like everything was okay was the only way to avoid more pain from rejection.

As an adult, whenever I talked about the past, I hated myself for exposing my “badness” and “making” people walk away from me. I expected to be abandoned the same way my parents had abandoned me and I abandoned myself during the times that I needed the most comfort.

Seeing where those beliefs and behaviors came from allowed me to see that I’m a worthy of love even when I express my pain or talk about the awful things that happened to me.

In my healing from abuse, I’ve found that there are two parts to recovery: Dealing with the damage and providing the things for myself that are lacking. Talking about my abuse is the means to both of those things.

1. As I’ve talked about my past, I’ve come to accept that it really happened. After repressing the memories of my traumatic childhood, it was unbelievable that the images in my head really happened—and they didn’t just happen to someone, they happened to ME. I went over it again and again—in my mind and with others. Sometimes, when I shared my story, I felt like a liar even though I knew I wasn’t making it up. I’d go in and out of denial and then at some point, I really got it. Talking about my abuse helped me accept the truth. This wasn’t a TV show or news story—this was my story.

Talking to understanding and compassionate people was the gateway to feeling compassion and pain for myself and acknowledging the depth of my loss. When I finally sat still with my experience and listened to my heart, I finally FELT heard.

2. I talked about my abuse because I needed to know what happened to me really mattered. The way I was treated as a child told me that my feelings didn’t matter—that I didn’t matter. I was wasting someone’s time since I was a waste of time. The horror and tears on a friend’s face told me that what happened to me really was bad and that I wasn’t making a big deal out of nothing. What happened to me was wrong. I deserved to be treated better.

3. Telling my story has been a way to reach out for the validation I never got. Since I dissociated during my abuse and for so much of my life, I wasn’t connected to myself, especially to my emotional self. Talking to understanding and compassionate people was the gateway to feeling compassion and pain for myself and to acknowledging the depth of my loss. When I finally sat still with my experience and listened to my heart, I finally felt heard.

4. Talking about my abuse allows me to hear myself. As I listen, I hear myself emphasize details that I’d thought were insignificant. It’s given me greater understanding of my feelings and behaviors today. I’ve make connections between past events and current feelings and behaviors. I’ve solved today’s problems by looking back at how I got here.

For the most part, when I talk about my abuse now, it’s for someone elses benefit. However, when a new memory surfaces or I delve into a deeper layer, I share it with my friends and I give myself all the time I need to process it.

I used to feel the pressure to get it all out quickly since I wanted to stop before I was abandoned, but now I’m patient with myself and no matter how long I talk or grieve, I don’t abandon myself in the process. I know I’m worth all the time it takes to heal.

Now that you’ve heard my experience and thoughts about this, I’d love to hear yours. Please comment below and don’t forget to subscribe to the comments so you can continue to partake in the discussion.

Related Posts:
How Do I Disclose My Abuse?
Forgetting About Abuse: Who Does That Really Serve?
My Fear of Being Alone
Dead Silence: Killing My Voice
Dealing With Triggers of Abuse
Why Do I Need to Tell?

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.

[read Christina’s story here]

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  1. I read ur experience recognizing so many things. Altho the abuse didn’t happen to me, it happened to my daughter, but I also felt.the trauma amd.could not.stop.speaking of it for a few years. My husband was.going thru his own pain and could not cope with hearing me tall of it again nd again, but my friends.came to my rescue. My problem is that my daughter isstill suffering and now has moved into another phase of not.caring whether she lives or diez. She says that nothing makes any difference any more and it doesn’t matter what sje does in life, she cannot change anything or make anything matter. She is drinking again amd putting herself in seriously dangerous situations as she feels she has no hope! How can u convince someone with this mind set that it is worth living?!!!

  2. I talk about it and will talk about it until it’s done. Over and done. Over and OUT. What else can we do? Wall up that little girl or boy inside of ourselves and leave her there to die, cold and alone? No, not that anymore. I will take care of her. I will take care of ME.

    Thank you for this wonderful group and blog. What would we do without people like you? God Bless and Good Night!

  3. “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ? Maya Angelou
    I hear you loud and clear. When people ask me why I share my life and my story so openly, I tell them, “because I have to.” I was in my 30’s before I knew anyone ever felt like I did. I didn’t understand that other people had experienced the same pain, the same shame, and the same feeling as I had. So I share my life, my hope, and my strength here and in my writing. I want to give back what was so freely given to me.
    Thank you for this site!!

  4. Maggie,
    I’m so sorry for what your daughter and you have gone through. I know how painful it is to watch helplessly as your child suffers from the effects of abuse. When Bethany told me about her abuse, she wasn’t interested in doing the work of healing right away. She was raw and just wanted to try to live her life without thinking about abuse. It was so hard not to have any control over that even though I knew that so many things she was doing were destructive. I had to accept that her healing had to be on her terms and in her timing. The only thing I could do was to try to model healthy behavior to her and to let her know through my words and actions that I was there for her. Thank you for sharing your story.

  5. Catherine,
    Exactly! Giving my inner child a voice is vital to my life and I’ll never be silenced again! I’m glad you won’t be silenced either.

  6. Cathy,
    It’s so true that as we share with others, we make connections within ourselves. Thank you for making your voice loud and clear too!

  7. Hi It Clare
    Ive told a few people who were interested but some are not. The ones that are arent always there and all I want is a shoulder to cry on. Some times I find it hard to talk and some times I dont but my Emotions are getting in the way. Is there any good books that would help me.

    From Clare

  8. Hi Clare,
    It’s true that there isn’t always someone around who will listen. When there isn’t someone else, I’ve learned to be a friend to myself. After abandoning myself for so long, it was a process to learn that, but it’s been a major key in my healing.

    I’m not sure what you mean about your emotions getting in the way. Emotions tend to feel overwhelming when they first come out after years of being suppressed. That’s to be expected. I’ve used my old coping methods (the healthy ones) to help me during those times while moving from coping to healing.

  9. After surviving trauma in my childhood, I can relate exactly to what you have written. Your words touched my heart. I am working on my own journey of healing and reading your words helps to know that other people feel the same. It is so hard to talk, especially when you are expected to just keep it to yourself and pretend bad things didn’t happen. After years and years, that just becomes to difficult to continue. Thank you for validating the fact of talking about and facing the abuse is the only way to heal. Please keep talking and sharing your experiences, and I wish you success in your journey of healing.

  10. i don’t talk about … stuff … beause a) it hurts b) i don’t feel
    heard c) people offer platitudes or sympathy d) i never feel any
    better after talking about it, only worse e) most of the time, after
    i’ve shared something, others start talking about their issues without
    acknowledging anything i’ve said.

  11. I realize your story and site are about sexual abuse primarily but it is interesting that the processes for coming to terms with our issues are much the same for anyone who is hurting from a wide variety of abuses. My mother was adopted when she was eight and her adoptive father abused her sexually until he ended up being my father when she was thirteen. This has caused me to be very sensitive to this issue. The state ended up removing me from the home at my mothers request as her adoptive mother began to take things out on me. I went through a series of abuseive foster homes before being adopted by a pastor and his wife. They decided to go to Africa as missionaries so I ended up in an abusive boarding school. That is just the beginning of my messed up life. The point is I too have gone through quite a process to deal with so much brokenness much of which is the same as yours although I think it may be even more difficult for a man to find someone to listen. My wife doesn’t want to hear it.

  12. Dennis, you *so* deserve someone to listen to you. What a long string of deeply painful experiences.

    Muis, you are so right that true listening needs to be focused on the person speaking, in a way that is sincere and acknowledging of him or her. Platitudes just don’t cut it.

    Christina, thank you for such a well-written article.. so clear and from the heart..!

  13. I feel my following words are resonating with the spirit of the article above. I wrote them after reading the article. Thanks for being on your side.

    “When I was two or three years of age, I lived passionately, intensely and depended on my mother. You could say that I was stating, not with words, but by acting healthily as I did, the following: “I am here, I live, I am somebody and a particular somebody and I am a treasure and a joy.”
    When my mother hit me severely at that age, I learned the lesson that it is dangerous to be the particular me th…at I am and I stopped in part being passionately myself.
    As I now grow through therapy more and more into the particular somebody that I am, I realize how much this feeling of intense threat slowed me down in my move towards being more fully what I am.
    One aspect that is troubling to me is “being certain”. Being certain for me is associated with aggression and so I instinctively shy away from it, on one hand. On the other hand, as a philosopher, I am intensely fascinated by it.”

  14. Great article. The fact that people try to get people to shut up about this stuff is why it persists. I’d say kick those cowardly f****rs to curb. Life is too short to deal with such people. I for one, have found many great people out there who are willing to listen to everything I share about my past, and I return the favor to them. I wouldn’t have it any other way, and it makes for a much great opportunity for healing.

  15. I so understand your feelings. No one wanted to listen to me either and I was threatened by my abusers. I believe you will understand this poem…….

    Cold Tears

    You sneak into my room,
    In the middle of the night,
    And you do to me,
    Things that aren’t right.

    You said “Don’t be nervous,
    Just give into my touch,
    For you are my world,
    And I love you so much.”

    I tried to move away,
    But you pulled my close,
    Whispering the lies,
    As you kissed my throat.

    You said I was pretty,
    I’d get better as I grow,
    I’d learn how to do things…
    Things I shouldn’t yet know.

    You did your deed,
    And when you were done,
    You got up and said,
    “Remember, we tell no one.”

    As you leave my room,
    I hide the tears I cry,
    Can’t let anyone know,
    That I’m dead inside.

    Laying in my bed,
    I’m curled into a ball,
    And doing my best,
    To make myself small.

    Not wanting to move,
    Not wanting touched,
    You have no idea,
    I hate you so much.

    © Copyright
    By Lana Killingsworth

  16. Kevin wrote: “Great article. The fact that people try to get people to shut up about this stuff is why it persists.”

    That’s IT in a nutshell. THANK YOU ALL for my daily dose of wisdom TODAY, as I learn to take care of MY SELF.

    Gracias, amen.

    “The winds of grace blow all the time; all we need do is set our sails.”

  17. Thank you for this article. I was sexually (and emotionally, physically) abused by my older brother throughout my childhood, and I also dealt with this through dissociation for a long time. It’s really bothered me how unequal some people are–they feel free to talk about what’s happened in their life, but they expect me to be quiet about mine in order to be more “socially acceptable.” But this is my life, this is what happened, these are the issues that I deal with and if anyone ever makes a comment like “can’t you be more positive” again, I’m going to drop them immediately. We shouldn’t have to stay silent, to repress ourselves further, to be censored.

  18. Natalie,
    Thank you for sharing. I’m glad you know you’re not alone and I wish you well on your healing journey too. Keep talking!

  19. Muis,
    I’m sorry you don’t feel validated when you share. I hope you feel heard here. You deserve to be heard.

  20. Dennis,
    Have been the victim of physical, emotional, verbal, spiritual, financial and sexual abuse, I completely agree with you that the effects and the way to healing is the same. I’m so sorry to hear that your wife isn’t supportive in your healing. It’s so hurtful not to be able to share something like that with the person who is supposed to be so close. I hope you know you can share with us here. No matter how you were abused, you deserve to heal.

  21. Heiko,
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings about this. I know that passionate life that you’re writing about. I’ve found that life again after feeling like a zombie for most of my existence. What a relief and a joy! I hate, hate, hate abuse and how much it steals from us.

  22. Kevin,
    I agree that it’s wonderful to be able to share experiences and feelings with other survivors. It’s so fulfilling to find people who understand. I’m glad you have that kind of support and that you are that kind of support to others.

  23. Thank you for sharing Christina. I believe your site will be a great support for me over the coming months as I complete my book about my own experience of childhood sexual abuse and my journey of recovery. I am determined that the years of suffering and of losing myself will not be in vain and I am equally determined to use my experiences to support others.

  24. Lana,
    Thank you so much for sharing your poem with us. I could really relate to it.

  25. Caden,
    I’m glad you value yourself enough to know you have a right to speak too. Let your voice be heard!

  26. Jolene,
    I’m glad you found OSA! Good for you for writing a book. My daughter and I are working on a book together so I know how much work that is.

  27. Good luck to each of you who are writing books. I just published a book of poetry. I hope its ok to share another poem with y’all. I have a friend who started a group called “Silence No More” after she had been raped. She made up a poster and asked me to write a poem for her group. Here is that poem…….

    Silence No More!!!

    You’ve been wronged,
    That is clear,
    You’re not alone,
    We are here.

    All the scrubbing we do,
    Will never wash away,
    The memories and the hurt,
    Inflicted on us that day.

    People will be mean,
    Want you to take blame,
    But we did nothing wrong,
    Have no reason to be ashamed.

    We have been there too,
    So we truly do know,
    They violate our being,
    Clear to our very soul.

    It’s not our fault,
    Don’t let them win,
    We are not dirty,
    Let the healing begin.

    Let us speak out,
    From shore to shore,
    Let us be heard,
    Silence no more!!!

    © Copyrighted
    By Lana Killingsworth

  28. I also am a surviver of sexual abuse by an in- law. I told when I was about 13 noone stood up for me. I felt my whole childhod like I didn’t matter. I finally had a breakdown when I was 38 all the memories came and like a horror film that I couldnt shut off. I have heard comments like ” you should get over it ” ” he has grieved over this for years” ” he has ask for gods forgivness ” ” etc. … The way I see it is. I was a victim I am now a surviver it made me who I am today. I worship my children and never ever wanted them to feel like they didn’t matter. I respect others feelings because feelings do matter especially to a child who has noone but their parents to stand up for them. I also watch for the signs of abuse. Children who are abused act out in so many destructive ways if you have been through it then you recognize the behavior. I have also told my children what happened I am stronger now than I had been my whole life I finally have someone in my life that made me realize I do matter I did not deserve what happened and my life is finally mine.

  29. I can relate all to well to the compulsion to share. I have it but am still unable to do so. When I try to verbally talk about it my mouth literally locks shut and I can’t get a word out. When I write it I fade away into nowhere land and am only aware that I shared anything by the feelings I ave when I have come back to the here and no. So I still havent found healing from the pst and it still haunts me daily either emotionally or physically.

  30. This post caught my eye.
    I felt the same way and was treated the same way. I stuffed it down. People did like me better, they didn’t have to hear the anger and the disturbing things and in some respects my life benefited from it. I listened to others tell me their stories. I gained friends from being such a good listener. I stopped thinking of the awful things that happened.
    It didn’t stop the learned behaviors of hurting myself mentally. Indulging in food, actually over indulging because there was little pleasure in being me. I was not able to grow away from the past by working through it. I was reinforcing that fact that people thought little of me and that I could be so easily used. And the memories didn’t stay down. They pop up now and then. I cry for what seems no reason because something reminds me of the helplessness and the feelings of torture become vivid and visceral.
    My life decisions are not healthy. I decided to stop having intimate relationships because I am convinced that I will never have a healthy relationship in my life. This is while I work on myself and and attempt to repair the damage. I am an unfulfilled useless husk that I have no respect for. All the things I survived are meaningless. All the potential I had is gone. I hate humanity and don’t want to be a part of it. Good people are not only few and far between but still stuck in the stigmas that our society promotes.
    I don’t feel that I am victim, I just really despise what Homo sapiens are about. I do not join groups, they do nothing for me. I am not a leader, nor am I a follower. I have always been this way. And I am so damaged that I cannot even write my story so that anyone could benefit from it. I am just eternally tired. There is no way out. Comfort is a bogus trifle. I realize that this is who I am now. And there is no going up from here. Worse, I can’t even work denial like I used to so that I can make pretend that everything will get better.
    I know, I know, “look on the bright side”. Yes I can see it. It just is wasted on me.

  31. I am speechless after reading these heart-felt posts. Thank God I didn’t shut up! Yet I am “haunted daily” too, and have complete feelings of self-worth-less-ness as well. But I write it out write it out write it out and talk talk talk and I don’t shut up and I am STILL HERE. Alive and Kicking and I am actually accomplishing a LOT so I guess talking about it does do some good, even if others don’t want to hear about it. But that is now how I choose my friends. Am I allowed to be me, and show how I feel? If so, great. We can continue in a relationship. If not, Adios Amigo and hope we don’t meet again!

    So glad this forum is here with like minded and kind spirits, wherever you are. We have at least been able to find each other.

    “The winds of grace blow all the time; all we need do is set our sails.”

    Grace = Gracias.

    Catherine Todd

  32. Lana Killingsworth wrote such a lovely and excellent poem, describing my (our) feelings and experiences perfectly after being raped! I have never seen it put so well into words. Without rancor, blame or anger. Just the facts and the truth. Let the healing begin!

  33. Just saw the other poem by Lana Killingsworth, where she IS angry! Good going! I was wondering how she wasn’t before in the other one… “I hate you so much…” “making myself small…” Lord don’t I know the feeling! But they will pass (years later) we hope, and letting it OUT AND OUT AND OUT. And eventually we will be and can be whole. I know, because I’ve been on this archeaological dig for years and years and am finally coming to the Light. Don’t give up… persevere. We will win – our hearts, souls and minds back. It’s worth the fight and the race. Gracias, Amen.

  34. I am at the point where I know that bringing all of this out is the only thing that is going to begin the healing. Everywhere.. most of tge people in my life are shuttin me out.. somehow thinking they dont want yo be involved. And this hurts waaaay worse then the abuse. My husban is my perp.. amd my childens. we have only been yone 3 weeks and it os all so confusing still. I just want to be hears… to be believed. The police have started crimminal proceedings against him… and im alone and it hurts.

  35. Talking about about my abuse to others helps me also. However the down side is that I’ve alienated most of my family members including my sister who was also abused. She was my biggest support person in the family but she wants to contintue to keep the “family” secret. I don’t get it.

  36. Family members dont know how to help and I think that’s why push us away. Also they are in denial and don’t want to believe or admit that such a horrible thing can be happening in “their” family. Plus, the abusers usually threaten the one(s) they abuse so the abused are afraid to talk.

    I hope y’all are not tired of my poems. Its my way of “getting it out” Here is another one that I believe many will be able to relate to……..

    I Could Have Become Like Them

    Abused as a kid,
    In more ways than one,
    I didn’t want to live,
    Didn’t want to go on.

    I hated everyone,
    I wanted to be dead,
    No more beatings,
    No more slaps to the head.

    Their lil sex toy,
    To use and abuse,
    No one would know,
    I had no where to go.

    Was told I could never tell,
    If I did I’d go to jail,
    Never again my family to see,
    They would all hate me.

    Everything was my fault,
    I guess I was a bad kid,
    The many things they done,
    Oh the secrets that I hid.

    I could have become like them,
    Could have been mean,
    Could have used and abused,
    But that’s just not me.

    © Copyrighted 2009
    By Lana Killingsworth

  37. Donna, thank you! My sister(s) INSIST on “keeping the family secret” and hate me – literally HATE ME and send HATE MAIL and more – because I “broke the code.” Just because they can’t or won’t deal with what happened, or willingly went along with it, doesn’t mean they should tar and feather me and turn me into the “black sheep” of a family of devils. Well, two can tango and I can hate them in return. I despise all of them and am so hurt I can’t sleep at night. Wasn’t it bad enough what I went through… what we all went through?

    But then they make ME the “bad guy” and IDOLIZE my mother who allowed all this to go on, and egged on the violence my father bestowed upon us. They are a cult at this point and I am so sad and lonely to not have any “real” family and the ones that I do have, have crucified me and ostracized me over and over. I still haven’t gotten over it even though I left when I was 16 years old, and I’m 62 years old now. Still haven’t gotten over it.

    I know I have to “learn to forgive” and all that, but with people that actively despise you and do all they can to destroy you and your reputation, it’s very very difficult. I ask God every day to please show me The Way. Amen.

  38. I am a 46 year old woman, who was married to a police officer. We had a great life ….on the outside. He ended up putting me in the hospital, he ended up over night in jail. Someone from the domestic violence shelter bailed him out. The charges started as 4 measure 11 first class felonys
    . Longstory short, after 9 months, he received 60 days house arrest. Because they could not keep him safe. Next month will be two years, most of the time I can sleep now. I have also stopped taking my anxiety medication. For six months I tryed to stay in our small town, put due to the DA and the police department not even wanting to know where I lived, I finally gave up.
    I lost my house, my business, friends, family ….you name it. He now has OUR house, a new truck, boat, and a motor home. But I am alive

  39. Catherine, I totally understand what you’re saying and how you feel. I was made into the “Black Sheep” of our family too. My sister was molested by some of the same ones that molested me and there are 7 that I can remember. It didn’t seem to affect her like it did me. But she has made me out to be the “bad guy” and it got even worse when my sister’s son started molesting my daughter and I had him arrested. She even turned more of my family against me including my grandmother. She said she will never forgive me for what I did. But I don’t care because I had to protect my daughter.
    I got tired of being quiet and abused so to speak, so I got to where I didn’t care what everyone else thought. They may be family by blood but that doesn’t give them the right to abuse me further. I decided I was better off without them. I have others that I consider family and they know of my past and love me anyway. They know that what happened to me was not my fault and they don’t blame me. I know how much it hurts for our “blood” family to HATE us. But we can’t let them hold us down. We have to fight back for our own peace of mind, heart and soul. May God be with you always hun.

  40. I imagine for some people their name is nothing more than a necessary label so they know they are being referred to, the same way we need a label to refer to a dolphin, a concert or a tree.

    And to some, their name will be their identity; it defines who they are and without it, well, who would they be?

    And then, I’m sure there will be others who simply feel stuck with their name; it keeps them in their past and doesn’t represent who they are.

    The latter is, or should I say was, how I felt about my name. I say was, rather than is, because nearly three weeks ago, after many years of fantasising about it, I finally took the plunge and changed my name by deed poll.

    So why change my name? Virtually everyone I’ve informed about my name change has asked me this question and it’s not an easy one to answer.

    Around 10 years ago I was in my late twenties and, not for the first time, so overwhelmed with painful emotions that I wanted to die. I stood in the kitchen looking at the assortment of tablets I’d poured onto the oven lid. Tears were streaming down my face and I had pains in my chest as suppressed emotion poured out of me in waves. I couldn’t stand it anymore; I was tired of feeling depressed and thoroughly fed up with needing to get out of my head in order to forget and to feel better. I’d had enough and I wanted out.

    As I thought about taking the tablets, ending my life, and becoming nothing, stillness descended. My tears dried and my breathing steadied and in the calm after the storm I was able to hear these words…

    “If there is such a thing as reincarnation and you end your life now, you will be faced with the very same problems in your next life as you are experiencing now.”

    I was stunned. Where had that thought come from? And more importantly what if it was true?

    Needless to say, I didn’t end my life.

    I’d already started reading some personal development books, including ‘Women Who Love Too Much’ which really helped make the connection between the abuse in my childhood and my unhelpful and often destructive behaviour in adulthood. The books I read gave me hope that change was possible.

    And so, as I popped the tablets, one by one, back into their rightful bottles, I wondered “Who would I be today if I’d been raised in a safe and loving environment?”

    I created a vision of the person I felt I would have been, should have been. I considered the positive characteristics she would display, how she would behave, how she would dress, what her interests and hobbies would be, how she would approach men and relationships, what she’d think about taking drugs, how she’d treat alcohol, and generally how she would live her life and feel about herself. Her self-worth and self-respect would be intact and that would have a positive effect on all of the above.

    It was with those thoughts and questions that my alter ego was born and I spent the next ten years working on myself to become that person.

    For many years I’ve wanted to write a book, so when I embarked on an eight month journey of specialised therapy in 2010 I started writing. I wrote about all the incidents I could remember where I was sexually, physically, emotionally and mentally abused. I also wrote about the experience of speaking up at thirteen and of not feeling believed or supported by my parents.

    Writing about this was far from easy so I often wrote in the third person, as if I was writing about someone else. Initially Jolene was nothing more than a pseudonym; someone I could be when I was writing about Hannah Chandler’s childhood and perhaps someone I would publish as. But, she became so much more than just a pseudonym. As well as wanting to become my alter ego, I wanted to become Jolene. She was my alter ego and I wanted to take on her name and really put the past behind me. I researched how to change my name by deed poll but it seemed like such a massive task and I came up with plenty of reasons why I shouldn’t do it. I guess the time wasn’t right.

    My therapy ended at the end of 2010. I was scared as I didn’t feel ready. I didn’t feel like I’d made progress. I wanted to feel fixed, like my alter ego Jolene, but I still felt damaged. Yes I’d managed to write about stuff which took me closer to my goal of writing a book, but I still felt incredibly stuck and very depressed. I was still drinking and smoking copious amounts of red wine and weed on a daily basis and, as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t stop. There was still so much work to be done.

    Little did I know that the work that needed doing was not necessarily through therapy sessions with a counsellor but through me taking control of my life. I didn’t realise it at the time, but 2011 was to be a year of necessary purging of all the things that acted as unhelpful triggers.

    In March I was made redundant. For eight years I’d supported adults with drug and alcohol issues but for the last two years of working there I’d been desperate to leave, to work in a more corporate environment where I wasn’t working with drug and alcohol issues. Although being made redundant was tough and scary it was absolutely the right thing.

    In July I cut ties with my father. I hadn’t spoken with my mother since April 2010. I hear people say “Oh, life’s too short, you never know what might happen tomorrow, you should bury the hatchet and make up so there are no regrets” etc. And I understand that. But more importantly I understand that I need to take care of me and, at this time in my life, having no contact with my parents is absolutely the right thing.

    In August my long term relationship came to an end. As much as it broke my heart and as much as I still miss him, being on my own at this time in my life is absolutely the right thing.

    Three major purges in one year. All very upsetting, but all absolutely necessary for my development and well being, although I didn’t realise it at the time. By October I was sinking into a deeper depression and wasn’t functioning properly so I went back on the waiting list for another round of therapy with my counsellor. In November I quit my job and started claiming benefits, which felt like a massive backwards step, but one that was needed. For two whole months I slept all day, and when I woke up in the afternoon I’d wish that I hadn’t. And so I’d start on the wine and the weed and there I was, stuck in that vicious cycle. My daughter told me recently that I was so far gone she didn’t see me coming back from that.

    However, as the end of the year neared, I felt desperate to make 2012 a good year, desperate to not feel depressed, desperate to not rely on drugs and alcohol, desperate to become the person I should have been if I’d been raised in a safe and loving environment. So, on December 30th 2011, the day before New Year’s Eve, I had my last night of getting out of my head. I vowed to make inside my head a nice place to be.

    It’s Sunday April 15th today and I haven’t had an alcoholic drink, a joint or a cigarette since December 30th and boy do I know it.

    I returned to work in January which coincided with the start of my second round of therapy. It’s very different this time as I’m allowing suppressed feelings and emotions to be released rather than suppressing them further with drink and drugs. This time it’s contained, it’s not spilling out into my every waking moment. This time I’m trusting my subconscious to work on whatever it needs to in between sessions. I make notes of any relevant thoughts, feelings and dreams I have and I bring them to the next session, we work through them and I leave them there. This time it doesn’t consume me like it did the first time round. I can look at things objectively, from this new perspective. It doesn’t take me back there.

    Since the New Year I’ve replaced the substances with things that are good for my soul. I regularly visit the gym and go walking not just for the exercise but for the fresh air and scenery. I’ve joined Huddersfield’s Women’s Institute, ‘Tea & Tarts’, and a local sewing group where I’ve learned to use my sewing machine. I’m starting to fulfil my dream of using my experiences to support others; I’ve started blogging and I’m presenting an outline of my story at a Bettakultcha event next week to one hundred people in Leeds. I now listen to my body and I give it what it needs. I know when I’m tired so I go to bed, even if that means cutting the night short when the party is in full swing. I fall asleep easily, I sleep well and I get up easily. I eat when I’m hungry instead of smoking a cigarette to curb my hunger. While in the past I couldn’t go to a social event without getting hammered, and I’d often end up behaving inappropriately, I now find my social network expanding as I am able to socialise respectably. I’m careful about where I spend my time now and if I’m feeling vulnerable I either go home or to the gym. I do what’s right for me.

    For the first time in my life I feel whole. I feel fixed. I am able to nourish my body, my mind and my soul. And when emotion comes, as it sometimes does, for the first time in my life I allow it. I feel it, I release it and then I replace it with love.

    These are the actions of my alter ego, Jolene.

    And this is why I have changed my name.

  41. Wow Oh Wow Oh Double Wow. Reading all these responses to my comment and afterwards have just about moved me to tears… tears of joy and tears of sadness and everything in between. Thank God I didn’t “shut my mouth” and I have refused to use or even say my “name” for years. I should change it, too. Thank you for sharing about the Black Sheep business… it’s still very shameful for me and I have to make myself say it out loud even though I’ve never done anything to be a “black sheep” except be a truthful and honest person. I guess in a cult of liars, that would be considered a “mortal sin.”

    I have never allowed myself until now to admit out loud how much I hate my sisters that have spewed so much venom towards me all these years… I know that the level of hatred I feel is equal to the level of hurt, and I’ve finally quit wishing hoping and praying that one day things would be different and be resolved. Now I know they won’t so I might as well give back what I’ve been getting all these years.

    “Give back” doesn’t mean I actually throw or say anything their way, but I let myself feel this way and that’s a first for me. Instead of crying over something I cannot change, at least I can feel strong by hating them back. Then maybe I will find forgiveness in my heart, but at least this way I’m not “making myself” do something I really can’t feel. Until this desire for payback is over and ended, I’m not going to pretend that I feel anything different but anger at them. I’ve never allowed myself to feel that, as we are never allowed to feel that! Always the platitudes and all the rest of that nonsense…

    My mother died a couple of years ago and it was traumatic beyond belief, being denied a visit to her deathbed after a lifetime of waiting and believing that surely resolution would be achieved before she died! But no, she hadn’t changed a big, and neither had my sisters. To hell with all of them!

    All I know now is that my mother “can’t hurt me anymore.” That’s what her death meant to me. I have never known a mother’s love or acceptance, but now I am free of wishing and the hope that she would change; that things would change and she would finally love me in the end. That didn’t happen and it never will, but since she is dead and gone I can quit wishing and hoping and living in some kind of a fantasy world. Now if the rest of them were really “gone” maybe I’d give up the ghost of wishing we were all friends and that that impossible day would come.

    Until then, thank God for forums like this. I’m not (so) crazy after all ! And working on healing my shattered self and shattered life, even if it’s “all on the inside.” I want the outside and the inside to match! And I won’t quit until it’s done.

    Please Dear God show me The Way. Gracias, Amen. And thanks to everyone here! Made my day… and night of course. Catherine Todd

  42. I meant to add a title to the above post which is “What’s in a name?”. The article was the basis of a presentation I recently delivered to 100 people which highlighted key points throughout my journey from being sexually abused as a child to changing my name at 38 years old.

  43. I have just started writing about my experiences and completely understand what you are saying. I felt the same way for years and am doing great healing through writing.

  44. I continued reading all the posts to this article and I wanted to tell you all that it is very inspiring to learn about your struggles and determination to claim what´s rightfully yours. It is indeed wonderful that this way of reassuring ourselves exists and that Christina opened up the space by writing this article in the first place. It feels so good to feel the moral clarity in the lines of many and to find people who have made the difficult choice to rid themselves of family and relatives who continued to hold them back from what they wanted to do.

  45. Hello all,

    My MSc dissertation will be based on sexual abuse and I would like to ask you to help me if you wish.

    My question is – What Do You Want To Know About Sexual Abuse.

    I know it looks quite broad, but could you please tell me what do you think?

    My regards, Elena.

  46. Donna,
    I know the feeling of trying to make sense of fellow victims not wanting to get out of that abusive system. It reminds me of the Harriet Tubman quote: “I freed a thousand slaves, I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.”

  47. Rhonda,
    I used to get a physical reaction just thinking about talking about some of the things that happened to me. One time after I shared with a group of people, I heard a very accusatory voice rise up in me that I was going to get in trouble. I didn’t know what that “trouble” was, but I felt very threatened. I recognized that as the grooming I had as a child. I was still operating from that same system that helped me to survive as a child, but it wasn’t serving me well as an adult. Reminding myself that they don’t have the same power over me that they used to helped me to deal with that fear.

  48. Bipolar Bear,
    I’m sorry you’re in so much pain. Without hope, it’s a very miserable life. Healing is very difficult without it. I hope that you can find some for yourself because healing is worth it.

  49. Gracias, amigas and amigos.

    “I freed a thousand slaves, I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.”
    Harriet Tubman

    I will be FREE.

  50. Heiko, thank you: “It feels so good to feel the moral clarity in the lines of many and to find people who have made the difficult choice to rid themselves of family and relatives who continued to hold them back from what they wanted to do.”

    It’s a lonely choice that I question frequently but it’s “do or die” in more ways than one. Thank you – and everyone here – for the strength and determination to continue on.

    “The winds of grace blow all the time; all we need do is set our sails.”

    Dear God please show us The Way.

  51. Catherine and Jolene,

    I think that when we can express ourselves as you two have, it helps others, including me. I can relate to what each of you have posted. I am sure that many can. I believe that Christina intended this to be a place where we can open up and share our experiences, feelings and more with others who understand because we have had the same kind of experiences and know what it can do to people. I used to feel so alone and that no one could possibly understand. I felt like no one cared or even wanted to care. I found other ways of “dealing” with the abuse I experienced but can’t say that I was “healing.” For me, the ‘hate” that I felt for those who “hurt” me was a way of protecting myself. That is what has worked for me. We all have our own ways of “protecting” ourselves and have to do what works for us. That doesn’t make it wrong even though to some it may seem wrong. But we do what we need to do to get ourselves through. Something else that has helped me is to write poetry. I know that’s not for everyone because not everyone can write like that. So I try to share my writings if I think they might be of help. I have shared 3 of my poems here. I guess it’s just one of “my” ways of dealing/healing myself. But I truly hope that my writings can help others. Much love and respect to everyone here and God bless!!!

  52. Thank you, thank you!

    While I was not sexually abused, I was emotionally, mentally and physically abused while growing up. I used to brush it off as “not being that bad”… but in recent years I’ve gone through counseling and learned to feel, acknowledge, accept and express my emotions, and now I realize how much abuse happened.

    Just like you wrote… “I learned that I wasn’t tolerable unless I was happy so I learned to shut up about my needs and my pain. Acting like everything was okay was the only way to avoid more pain from rejection.”

    But I’m done acting like everything was okay. It wasn’t and isn’t! But I’ve struggled with how much I should or shouldn’t talk about it… because at times I felt like I was focusing on myself too much, being selfish and/or being a victim. Thanks for giving me permission to talk about the crap I’ve dealt with.

  53. Janet,
    Welcome to OSA! I’m glad you know you have permission to talk about your abuse. You and what happened to you are important. It IS worth talking about. Thanks for your comment.

  54. Hi Janet,
    “But I’m done acting like everything was okay. It wasn’t and isn’t!”
    Yay, that´s how I feel, too.

  55. I started blogging about my bullying experiences because it seemed like the only way to get it all “out” and heal from it. I couldn’t reveal to mutual Internet friends that it was their friends who had been bullying me, though I kept hoping they’d figure it out for themselves. I couldn’t tell the bullies what they had done, because one of them seems to have a personality disorder and is not at all reasonable to deal with. And my husband and friends could only take so much hearing about it before they started making noise that they were tired of it. But like you, I had to tell and keep telling what had happened. So I blogged….Now the bullies have found my blog and are trying to make my life hell over it. But I must keep up my blog. If I take it down, if I keep the silence the bullies are trying to threaten (through legal action) to make me keep, I lose my voice, my way to tell and keep telling without driving my loved ones crazy.

  56. Kay wrote: “But I must keep up my blog. If I take it down, if I keep the silence the bullies are trying to threaten (through legal action) to make me keep, I lose my voice, my way to tell and keep telling without driving my loved ones crazy.”

    Exactly, and perfectly put! Just remember, if they threaten “legal action,” then the whole story will come out in a public forum and they will be found guilty of their crimes. Bullies and molesters and abusers fear the light and the truth more than anything, and once you “turn the tables” on them, they will be the ones to run and hide! They can’t stand the light and can only operate in the darkness and shadows of fear. I see that this is the ONLY power they have over us.

    Keep up the good work and thank you to EVERYONE HERE for commenting. Just reading these stories makes me strong, and lately I have really needed that. I had no idea it was such an overarching problem! I honestly thought I was the “only one” ostracized and bullied by family members for speaking out. This is changing my life and it is by groups like this that we will change the world.

    Gracias, amigas and amigos! Dear God, please show us The Way.

  57. Thank you Lana, for writing “I think that when we can express ourselves as you two have, it helps others, including me.” Me, too! It’s helping right now when I needed it most. My poor husband has had to listen to me for far too long. Maybe now, here, I can share with people who are going through the same thing and we can help each other. Makes all the difference in the world. Dear God please show us The Way.

  58. Catherine,

    We need to express our feelings. No longer should we be silenced. What happened to us was wrong and those who did it to us are the ones who need to be silenced now. We “The Survivors” not “The Victims” Have a right to be heard because I refuse to be a “Victim” any longer. It is up to us to be heard and to spread the word so that maybe others can find the strength to stop being “The Victim” and together we can all raise our voices and raise awareness of these abuses and the abusers. No one deserves what each of us have experienced. But it is up to us to help stop it.

  59. I just want say hello and glad I found this forum! I am awake and can’t sleep mostly because I am headed, in a few hours, to see a bodyworker and , hopefully release more of this dark energy that was forced upon me when I was to small and defenseless to reject it.

    I have found it vital to my recovery to continue to make others aware of my truth. My truth comes out in my story but I am not my story. I am a precious child that was defiled, I am perfect in all ways. I say that to remind myself I am valued and loved by many and most days loved by me. Thanks to all for being so vulnerable and honest ,I don’t know any of you but I know the horror and darkness of abuse and torture so I know you at a deep level.

  60. Steve,
    Welcome to OSA! I’m glad you found us and that you’re taking care of yourself through bodywork and through sharing the truth.

    I wholeheartedly agree with your statement: “My truth comes out in my story but I am not my story.” That’s the way I feel too. My identity doesn’t come from what happened to me. The things that were perpetrated on me were a reflection of the abuser, not of me. Nobody and no action has the power to define me. Even though I’ve defined myself in false ways for many years, that didn’t make it true. Those false images that I had came from the way I was treated and they are lies. Yay for finding and knowing and declaring the truth! I love the truth and there is such freedom there!

    I’ve been interested in bodywork for a few years. I’ve observed some astounding things when I’ve done bodywork, even without the help of someone trained in it. I wish you well with your work.

  61. Christina wrote: ” My identity doesn’t come from what happened to me. The things that were perpetrated on me were a reflection of the abuser, not of me.”

    I never thought of it that way, and this is absolutely 100% TRUE.

    Steve wrote: “I am awake and can’t sleep mostly because I am headed, in a few hours, to see a bodyworker and , hopefully release more of this dark energy that was forced upon me when I was to small and defenseless to reject it.”

    I know exactly how you feel! And now I understand what was happening to me when I was lying on the massage table, twice a week, for hours at a time, in tears and unable to walk without a cane for so many years… everything was frozen and steel in the small of my back and the pain was unbearable. I would finally cry and cry and cry and the massage therapist (an angel in disguise!) finally said there was something “very profound” going on with my body, and beyond the “physical.” Boy was she right!

    She brought me to prayer. To tears and prayer, and I was down on my knees begging God to help me and to save me. And I gave up “religion” years ago. But whatever that spark of the Divine is; the “best of ourselves,” it’s there to help and to heal us and it’s a little light inside of us that never goes out. That light saved me, and I can see now – reading your comment – that the “body work” I didn’t know I was doing was helping to “get the darkness out.” Within a few months I was able to do away with the cane I had been using for many, many years, and I’m still on the road to recovery. It might take a lifetime, but after all,

    What else have I got to do?”

    Good luck and Godspeed in all your endeavors. I love this forum and thank Christina for creating and maintaining it. It’s such a Godsend in so many ways! All of us helping each other, sharing our stories of hope and courage, anger, fears and tears, and ultimately triumph. What more do we need?

  62. Hi Steve,
    just wanted to say that your comment gave me a wonderful feeling of comfort in painful times. Not to be alone when there is a lot of opposition feels so good. Thanks for posting! And I agree and wish you success in your body work.

  63. Here is another reason why I talk about my CSA:
    I have been aware of the fact that I was raped and tortured by many , this awareness happened about 19 years ago. Once i had this initial awareness I launched on a course of vigorous action that involved many different retreats and men’s workshops and I didnt slow that pace down for about 10 years. I then got to a place where I thought I had unearthed most of the trauma so I slowed down the pace. About 5 years ago my body was telling me there was more work to do so I have been back at it pretty vigorously in the last 5 years.

    Yesterday I had a two hour session with a healer that has helped me unlock and release that dark energy that my body holds. I will not go into detail but suffice it to say that it is unimagineable what a group of humans will do to another. I can’t tell you how terrifying it was yesterday for that little 9-10 year old boy. The adult was on board to reassure that little guy that what we were doing was safe, right, and necessary for our survival.
    This morning I felt light and free and a headed out the door for a bike ride.

    I share my experience in hopes that it will help someone else.maybe you are struggling at the moment,god knows I have over the years. Please continue to the next safe thing your intuition is calling you to do, it’s going to be ok. Have a wonder filled day, you deserve one!

  64. Thank you Steve, for sharing your story and giving hope to us all. I’ve been at this for more than 20 years and am finally starting to feel “OK.” Outside of PTSD, if a re-injury occurs. Yet as you said it:

    “Please continue to the next safe thing your intuition is calling you to do, it’s going to be ok.”

    Exactly! Dear God please show us The Way.

    “The winds of grace blow all the time; all we need do is set our sails.”

  65. Catherine,
    I really like your quote:
    “The winds of grace blow all the time; all we need do is set out sails.”
    Thank you for that. It is a very gentle and pleasant reminder for me that God is ever present in my life and all I need to do is surrender to gods will for me.

  66. Steve, I am so glad you like the quote. It has kept me going in my darkest days, nights and hours. I repeat it all the time, even when I don’t know which way the wind is blowing.

    Dear God, please show me The Way.

    “The winds of grace blow all the time; all we need do is set our sails.”

  67. My son is still sexually abused.
    I reported it and CPS has failed me for so many years I think they just don’t want to finally come clean now. I still have hope. he is 12 and lives with his dad. His dad has power. he’s in the FDNY. they put me up against the wall of silence. for some reson this is a bad seed they want to hold on to. they want to avoid a scandal. i’d keep it quiet if they would just give me my son back. the courts made an awful mistake by placing him with his father. my parents went to the courts and said i was too sick to mother my son. but the truth is that my parents are pedophiles too and they pimped my son to other child molesters and bvasically everyone that’s sick in my old irish catholic family- even some priests- got a chance to molest my boy. it was an awful cover up by the police. i’m afraid every day that i will die because i tell. but i need my son to know for when he gets older that I always did my best over these years to find him help. its a terrible tradgedy what the system did to my son. does anyone have a connection to the police that maybe can help me? i am in ny. thanks, colleen….

  68. Thanks for this post, i feel the same things you have when thinking of talking about this.

    I just realized my father sexually abused me a few months ago. Even though I’m 38, I feel like a scared child. I’m realizing that all this time i thought there was something wrong with me was actually messages i recieved from my parents in childhood and throughout my adult life. My mother, like many survivors’ experiences, is not a loving supportive person to me.

    I work for my father, who overpays me for what i do and gives me many benefits that i would not normally get at a normal job. I am quiting this job and moving away from my family and I’m terrified. I have to leave because i can’t stand this anymore. But I feel also so weak to do the work to take responsibility for mysellf, I fear that I’m not strong enough and i will be poor and no where to go. Atleast now i have money and security. But I feel if i don’t leave I will suffocate. I need to find out if the limits in my head are true, because maybe it’s not true that I’m not capable. I don’t know.

    I’m also constantly re-experiencing the abuse in my body. I’m hoping that by leaving this will subside. I feel desperate and afraid. I cannot face all that is coming up within me, it’s too much. I escape into my mind and fantasy world, watch movies, smoke, eat, and sleep.

    I am trying to love myself and accept myself, to stop torturing myself.

    Maybe this is the hardest part? I hope so. I too feel guilt at speaking about this. a voice says “you are trying to get attention”, “you enjoy the drama and being a victim”, “You are a liar” “you only think of yourself”

    When you said you wanted to put a limit on who and how often you speak about it, I realized I’m doing the same thing, the fear of dwelling and being a victim, getting stuck in this story…so i decided to post this.

    Thank you. Phew.

  69. Lisah, I never worked for my father, nor did I ever receive any “benefits” or help of any kind (except once or twice in my life) and I was ALWAYS “afraid of the future.”

    I moved to Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, in 2006 and spent the first year lying on a massage table crying my eyes out and the next year wrapped up in a blanket crying my eyes out in my garden, with butterflies and hummingbirds all around. I called my life a “monk in a monastery.” And I survived.

    I paid $200.00 per month for a beautiful little “casita” and had everything I needed, walked to the lake when I was able to leave the house, and I learned how to pray. The masseuse that helped me so much was Guatemalan and did deep-tissue Brazilian massage, which went “all the way to the bone.” When she saw that I was still suffering so much, she said there was something “muy profundo” going on that she didn’t know if she could treat, and asked if she could bring in her prayer group.

    Even though I no longer go to church (being raised a Catholic and going to all religious services and then being abused right after at home), at this point I said I would “try anything.” She immediately made some calls and her pastor and their group came rushing right over. They made a circle around me and cried and prayed and cried and prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed, and even though I did not understand all the words in Spanish, I cried to. And all that helped me heal.

    Now I still don’t go to church, as we all are well aware of what crimes “organized religion” can do, but I have learned to ask God to “heal these wounds that have not healed.”

    That, along with living in Poor Man’s Paradise, and not having to worry about money and being surrounded by gorgeous gardens, the lake, the flowers and the birds… healing has begun. Peace and Tranquility are my next-door neighbors, and at this moment, I couldn’t ask for more.

    I am so glad you found this site and I am sure that your path to healing will emerge very shortly, as it has for us all. Dear God, please show us The Way. This is my hope and my prayer.

    “The winds of grace blow all the time; all we need do is set our sails.”

  70. Colleen,

    Do you have any kind of evidence of the abuse? If not, try to get some. Then make several copies of everything and make some packets/folders with all the info/evidence in them. Put everything in there including what you wrote above…..”i’m afraid every day that i will die because i tell.”……..Because his dad is with the FDNY does not give him the right to abuse his son, you or anyone else. You may even need to have yourself “evaluated” to prove you are a fit mother but if that’s what it takes to get your son then you may want to do it. After you get everything in the packets and you seal them, sign your name right on the seal. Send some to people that you know you can trust to hold them for you and make sure they do not open them but that if anything were to ever happen to you they are to take the packets/folders to the police. Make lists of any and everything you have done to get help for your son including dates for everything and include those with each package. If you can get copies of the reports made to CPS, include those as well. When you get the packets/folders put together start sending them to anyone you feel should know and you want to listen. If they don’t listen the first time , send the packets/folders out again and again until they do listen and each time, get a signed, return receipt. That proves you sent them and they received them.
    I am including a couple hotline numbers because maybe they can help you in some way……
    Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)
    Boy’s Town National Hotline: (Available 24/7) 1-800-448-3000

    I wish the best to you hun and will keep you and your son in my thoughts and prayers. Good luck and God bless.


  71. Lisah,

    The way you are feeling, is just how the abuser wants you to feel and as long as you are feeling that way hun, he is winning. It will take some time but you can get through it. Don’t rush it too fast, just take one step at a time. Is there anyone you can confide in? If there is just one person you can trust to talk to, that may help you. I used to be afraid to talk about what happened to me. I was made to believe that I was the bad person. But that’s how the abusers work. They don’t want you to know the truth because they don’t want others to find out what they do or have done. They make the abused feel guilty for what the abuser does or has done. That’s partly how they keep their dirty little secrets. Your mother not being a loving supportive person to you may be a result of her knowing what he did to you and she may not know how to handle it or how to help you or herself.
    Just my opinion here hun but the fact that you are quitting your job and moving away from your family shows great strength and determination even though it terrifies you. I believe that when you get away from your father you will begin to feel a freedom that you may never have known before and you will begin to realize and know that you are capable of doing what ever you wish to do and that you will survive. You will find a new job and be able to take proper care of yourself. During that time I also believe that the “re-experiencing of the abuse in your body” that you mentioned will be less and less as you start experiencing new freedoms within yourself. I know that loving and accept yourself is one of the hardest things to do after such trauma as you have experienced but God will help you there :) The abuser wants you to believe that………“you are trying to get attention”, “you enjoy the drama and being a victim”, “You are a liar” “you only think of yourself”…….because if you keep believing those things, they (the abuser) knows you will keep quiet and that means that they (the abuser) is safe.
    I don’t know if you read any of the poems I posted earlier in this feed but you may like them. They kind of describe how the abused feels.

    I wish the best to you hun and will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Good luck and God bless.

  72. will continue to visit and read writings of like minded souls…am praying that the Lord heals all your tender hearts

  73. Welcome to OSA, Ruth!

  74. # 3 Telling my story has been a way to reach out for the validation I never got. Since I dissociated during my abuse and for so much of my life, I wasn’t connected to myself, especially to my emotional self. Talking to understanding and compassionate people was the gateway to feeling compassion and pain for myself and to acknowledging the depth of my loss. When I finally sat still with my experience and listened to my heart, I finally felt heard.

    I’ve gotten better with being connected. This entire article is me for sure. Everything that I’ve gone through. I still feel like people don’t understand. My mother try to make me feel guilty by telling friends that I don’t have the ability to forgive other people. She tries to manipulate and control how I talk about her participation in not helping me during my abuse.

  75. Dionne,
    I got the “unforgiveness” guilt trip from my mom too. She’ll likely never give me any understanding or compassion or accept any responsibility for the way she parented me. I’m sorry you’re not getting support from your mother either. It’s so painful to feel cut off in that way. I hope you’re giving yourself the compassion and understanding that you deserve.


  76. This is kind of off-topic, but when I was five and my cousins were both about three, I discovered pornography. Specifically, hardcore/BDSM pornography, and watching these things made me want to try them with my cousins. It got to the point where I enjoyed making them cry and hurt. Now, ten years later, I self harm to punish myself for ruining their lives. The elder of the two of them has turned to self harm and substance abuse, and the younger is entirely introverted to the point where she barely speaks and flinches at the slightest movement. Knowing that I have hurt these two beautiful people is the worst torture anyone will ever experience. Most people I’ve told about this have told me I don’t deserve to live and that I should just kill myself now and get it over with. It may be a horrible sounding thing, but sometimes the abuser is affected just as deeply as the “survivors”.

  77. Pippa,
    You don’t say how you discovered pornography, but however you were exposed to it at such a young age, you were abused too. It’s natural for children to act out those things that they see or that was done to them and that doesn’t classify them as abusers. Yes, the harm that is done to the other children is just as real, but that doesn’t make you an “abuser”. I’m sorry for how much pain you’re in and how others have judged you and verbally abused you about that. You deserve to heal too.


  78. Christina,

    Thank you for that comforting comment. I discovered pornography because a boy in my class had found the word “sex” in the dictionary, so I went home and looked it up. It was as simple as that. Now I’m 15 and (unfortunately) still addicted to it… I had never thought about it in the way you described it, and it’s given me a lot to think about. I hope I get the chance to heal, but because I still have to go to school (where a lot of people in my year have found out) I don’t think that chance will come until I’m at least 18…

    Again, thank you for your kind words,


  79. Pippa,
    first let me say that I am very sorry for the pain you are in and for the horrible circumstances you must have grown up in.
    Here are some thoughts I have when I read your report. 1) It might be interesting to find out for you why you were attracted to pornography in the first place, and specifically to hardcore /BDSM stuff. It is unusual that children find this material at that age interesting and even attractive, so I would try to find an answer to that. 2) In a good situation there would have been caretakers who you trusted and you would have talked about what you discovered. You seem to have been lacking this kind of closeness, which is very sorry.
    3) Furthermore, your cousins seem also not to have had this close trusting relationship to which they could turn when their cousin did things with them that bothered or disturbed them. That nobody found out about all of this is not your responsibility, it is the job of the adults to supervise and protect the kids, you included.
    4) You were not able to know what would come from your actions. That´s why caretakers are legally responsible for you, because they know. You are not responsible for the damage you unknowingly caused.
    5) If you are addicted to this stuff, the question would be, what was and is lacking in your life and your situation that you need this kind of addiction? I would think it is the lack of connection or contact to a trusted and tender person, which is a very sad and damaging condition. I am happy and proud that you already realize that something is not right and has to change. Normally, the adults in your life are obligated to help you get out of this as soon as possible, but it seems you are very alone with this. My sympathies for you.

  80. Heiko, thank you, but as I was growing up my circumstances were otherwise excellent. I have loving parents and step-parents, aunts and uncles, and grandparents. I would like to know what it was that attracted me to that level of pornography, as I’ve watched it so much I feel I’ve become entirely numb to sexual things. Being a virgin, having never kissed a boy/girl romantically, these kind of things hold no value to me anymore. In regards to your second point, I was close to my parents, but I think that because even I was unsure of what we were doing, I didn’t want to tell anyone just in case it was the wrong thing (I’ve had a fear of being wrong since I was extremely young). We used to cover up what we were doing by lying almost constantly. I know that legally, I’m not responsible for what I’ve done, but in my heart, I know it’s my fault. They were amazing young girls, and every single day I wonder what could have happened if I hadn’t done those despicable things to them… I don’t feel that my life is lacking in any way, but I think the porn addiction is me punishing myself by reminding myself of what I’ve done to my cousins. A lot of what I do I can trace back to self punishment for this, and I hurt myself for the slightest things.

    The most common response I have received when telling people what I’ve done is that I need to go to church and repent for my sins. Now, I was never brought up religious, and as interesting as many religions are, I don’t believe in any higher powers or such things. Now, most religious people I know, I can deal with their beliefs because they don’t try and make me believe what they do, but my youngest cousin has told her (extremely strict catholic) mother, who has also found out that I am bisexual, and as a result she is trying to force my parents to send me away to catholic boarding school and a summer camp for “delusional children who need to be put right”. My parents are extremely confused by this, an it’s only a matter of time before she tells them what I have been doing to my younger cousins. I’m terrified they will disown me and kick me out or something like that. If there’s any advice any of you could give me regarding that, I’d be very grateful.


    Pippa x

  81. Pippa,
    It really breaks my heart that you are in this situation. It’s bad enough to suffer alone with the consequences of what you did, but to fear exposure and the abandonment of your parents is truly awful. You say that your circumstances growing up have been excellent but the things you describe are contrary to that. Believing that your parents would turn you out for something like that instead of supporting you and standing with you to get the help that you need means there is a problem. Emotional abandonment is abuse. It’s abandonment that you weren’t protected from pornography, it’s abandonment that you weren’t supervised better and could perpetrate those acts on your cousins, it’s abandonment that you are suffering alone and your parents either haven’t noticed that or they haven’t responded accordingly.


  82. Pippa,
    that is surprising. Nevertheless, I would not jump too quickly to your conclusion that circumstances were excellent. If the adults had been loving, why were you and your siblings/peers (you speak of “we”) “lying almost constantly”? Being close and being loved is not easily reconciled with constant lying and a deep fear of being wrong. Why did the loving adults not find out about the lying? Why didn´t they inquire about the reasons for your insecurity? I would suspect that the told you often that they loved you, but there seems to be another part of the truth that your unconscious sensed and that might have been the reason why you had those seemingly irrational fears of being caught wrong and why you lied. This tendency for self-punishment is in my eyes a symptom of a psychological problem, which in turn is a symptom of dysfunctional relationships while growing up. Also, the fantasy – how just it may ever be – that your parents will disown you and kick you out is not a sign of love and being close, in my book.

    Maybe your being bisexual is something in the way of an explanation for your attraction to pornography (I just heard from an expert during a conference that there is no scientific explanation for these kinds of sexual orientations, neither genes nor social experiences are predicting it, but they are associated with early behavior that is different from those kids who turn out to be heterosexual). Nevertheless, it does not explain why this bubble of damaging behavior did go as far as it did. That is not your responsibility.
    I admire your committment to own up to your behavior and your responsibility but when you write “in my heart, I know it’s my fault” I sense that you go overboard with your responsibility. It seems to me that you repeat that pattern that you described of doing everything right and punishing yourself. What is lacking for me in your story is a healthy anger at those people who didn´t notice that you played with “dynamite” and didn´t protect your cousins from being blown up. You can´t assume as a five year old the responsibility of an adult.
    You can test your hypothesis whether you are close to your parents and relatives and whether they love you. Imagine showing them this thread. What do you think you would do as a loving parent who is close to his kid? What is it what the would actually do? Is there a gap between the two? What do you make of it?
    Actually, the fact that you did not tell your parents all along about this very grave burden you are dragging aroung with you, does tell me something about the real closeness and love of your parents. I suggest that you are leaving a part of the story out, probably even to yourself.

  83. Thank you, Christina. And talking about it to all of you has been so helpful, this has been the first day I haven’t cut myself in about 3 months.

  84. Heiko, that’s a very interesting point you made. It’s, again, given me a lot to think about. Thank you for talking to me.

    Pippa x

  85. Dear Catherine,

    I am 56 years sold and have spent the last 42 years in self inflicted agony. I have been treated in 7 different mentsal instutitions for suicidal attempts. My first attempt was at the age of thirteen, but the sexual abuse began the summer of my tenth birthday. My God if people only knew what they were doing when they cross that bridge from trust to sexual abuse. My paternal grandfather was my abuser. How confusing is,that? You are told to respect and mind your elders, I did that and was taught how to masturbate by my grandfather and one sunny afternoon he chose to take our sexual relationship to the next level. I did not know what to think or to handle my mental and physical emotions. In a sense I died that day.

    I do okay most of the time, but there is not a day that goes by that I am not torn apart by my sexual abuse.
    I have often asked myself why did this happen to an innocent child…non of it makes any sense…why am I living with this burden?

    Many consulars have tried to no avail to help me with this issue…


  86. I just got told that I “present myself like a victim” on Facebook, apparently for posting my feelings about what happened to me as a child. I can’t believe it. Now the person who was “psychoanalyzing me” for my own good, apparently, is offended that I objected to this. Now she is angry at me and accused me of “biting” her!

    This sounds just like what some of my relatives have done, as soon as they ask me “what happened” and when I say what happened, it becomes something wrong I have done. Either talking about it now, or not getting over it, or not practicing meditation to be peaceful, or wrong for being angry, or engaging in “victimology.”

    That takes the cake. I am just lost right now. I have heard this c#$%^&*( all my life. I WAS a VICTIM and I HAVE to recognize this and deal with it, or how else am I supposed to heal? It’s shameful for a “strong independent woman like me” to ADMIT that I was a victim, and I was helpless, and when I finally do I am criticized and judged for it. I just can’t believe it. And this person says they were “just trying to help me.” All unasked for. Now I understand why 12 step groups say “don’t give advice” but talk from your own experience and what might have helped you in similar circumstances.

    I am just lost in a sea of confusion and pain.

  87. Denise, I am 63 years old and I know just how you feel! But I will NEVER hurt myself.

    Do you know why? Because we were “programmed to self-destruct.” So the perpetrators would have no one to accuse them; they would get away with it and never be caught! So I will NEVER finish me off, since that’s what they wanted all along. To say I was crazy, a drug addict, a prostitute, a ne’re do well, a bum in the street… all those names they called me to make sure to try and trash me and destroy my reputation and credibility so they could get away with it. But guess what? I am NONE of those things so they can’t use that as an excuse, even though my siblings believe every word they are told. But no one else does, because my life speaks for itself. They are the liars, not me.

    No matter how depressed I get and “ready to give up,” I always remember that one sentence and it keeps me going through yet another day. I read it in the first ground-breaking book about incest SURVIVORS by Laura Davis and Ellen Bass, I believe. I carried that book with me everywhere, every day. It became my Bible and I read it every single day. I got every book I could find on the subject and read them over and over again, until I thought my eyes would bleed. I cried and cried until I thought that river of tears would surely run dry. I thought it never would, but finally one day the sun came out. The light came shining through. This too will happen for you. Keep telling your story! Everyone here will help you; we are all here to help each other.

    God does not want us to suffer. God will send us what we need and God will see you through. I don’t go to church and don’t belong to any organized religion. My parents forced us into the Catholic religion and then they abused me at home. But I do believe in “the Divine” and I know I have a guardian angel: three in fact. And they, or that best part of myself, or those people who did love me, have watched over me every singe day and I am still here. So are you. You can start to live again, even when the days seem the darkest. Today was a rough one for me, too, but I know tomorrow will be better.

    “The winds of grace blow all the time; all we need do is set our sails.”

    Dear God, please show us The Way.

  88. Christina will know more about what to do and say, Denise, so I hope she answers your plea and your prayer. We all have them and I appreciate her website so much. She has helped so many as she too recovers from her own trauma. Stories told are stories shared, and we all benefit from them. Thank you again, Christina!

  89. I suppose it took me 30 years to come to terms. My father sexually abused myself and my siblings. He died this past january 2012. I didn’t shed a tear. It took me this long to actually realize it wasn’t my ‘fault’ what happened. A therapist told me that a few years ago and I didn’t understand what she was talking about. I said to myself ‘of course it wasn’t my fault’… but all the while, my actions blamed me. I was just too far gone to see it.

    My younger brother who was 40 at the time came forward (which is why I started to see a therapist), told the police and it all came spilling out. Me, I told my wife. She didn’t know till then. Oh she noticed my odd quirks about the way I viewed my own body, the shame allowing her to see me naked. She just thought I was very shy. I was so scared when she found out that she would view me like ‘damaged goods’.

    She’d see me as an extension of my father. I must be capable of doing the same thing if my father was, I suspected she would think. But down deep, it was my own mind blaming me and all the while I didn’t know what my therapist had meant. Till now. My wife on the other hand, was horrified for me, but loved me and supported me through it all.

    So my father is dead. He spent 3 years in jail at the age of 75 for his actions 30 years earlier. The last day I saw him was at the sentencing after 2 years of court appearances on the other side of the country. The sheriff cuffed him and lead him away. I told him on his way out: “if only you would have told the truth”. He didn’t say a word. He just looked at me like he would kill me if he could.

    Now 4 years later at the age of 79 he died. Down deep I suspected I would get some kind of letter in the mail. Maybe an apology letter sent on from his lawyer upon his death, or perhaps some crazy ass letter blaming all of us. Looks like I didn’t get a thing. He simply slipped away into oblivion.

    I’m a human. I wish he would have written a letter apologizing. I wish he would have manned up and took the blame for the terrible things he did in his life to my siblings and myself and his soul would at least rest in peace and I could find it somewhere in mine to forgive. But no. The man I thought was invincible, terrifying, unstoppable just died. And that was all. No regrets, no coming to terms. Just slid away to dust.

    So in the end, I’m alive. I have a 5 year old son I love so dearly my heart stops when he calls me dad. I would stand in front of a train for him, no questions asked. My father missed out. He missed out on what it means to have a son. What its like to have his little 5 year old son’s hand hold his with complete faith and trust. When I read him stories at night he twirls my hair in his fingers without even noticing and he falls asleep before I even get to the end. My father never knew what that was like. And for that Dad, I am truly sorry for you.

    You had money, admiration amongst your peers, the biggest house on the block, the new cars, respect in the community. But when it was all stripped away and you laid there on your deathbed in another city, alone in the room with no one and nothing but a heart monitor beeping in the background and just memories to take with you to the hereafter, you were ‘penniless’. Your memories were shallow, hurtful, shameful. What a terrible thing to ponder during your final moments on this earth.

    why am I writing this? I haven’t a clue. Its just bottled up and its spilling out here in this blog. I searched my childhood home on google maps and typed “why am I so sad to see my childhood home” into google search. And here I am. A complete chance encounter.

    Maybe someone reading this will recognize something or help them in some way. That would be a nice thought to end this letter and head home after work to my son and wife.

    Goodbye Dad.

  90. Will,
    I had hopes of my dad owning up to what he’d done to me too. I thought that as he neared the end of his life that he might want to make things right. I had one final conversation with him and it took me a day or two to realize that he wasn’t going to change even in the end. It was just a sad ending to a sad life.

    Thank you for sharing your story and welcome to OSA!


  91. Will, I thought when my mother died surely she would want to see me and apologize or *something* for allowing all those things to happen to me, and putting her husband over her child, but no, she refused to see me and set my sisters against me (again) so I have been receiving hate mail ever since she passed. I was and still am hated for speaking out about what that man did and I have been paying the price ever since. But no price would make it not worth it for me to tell the truth, as until I did, I believed I was “damaged goods” and it was only by saying it out loud and being believed that I finally realized it was HIS SHAME, not mine.

    I had never heard of people NOT having a “deathbed reconciliation” but I guess I grew up believing in movie endings and fairy tales. Your letter moved me like no other. And you are right: these people may have all the riches in the world, but they live in spiritual poverty, in a deep dark hole full of secrets, lies, anger and shame. And even hatred for their own children whom they might have loved so much. The older I get the more I believe in God and the angels and the devils, heaven and hell, and I am just glad that I didn’t turn out like them. And neither did you. That’s the heaven we have created and the heaven we earned.

    You are an excellent writer. I hope you write more. Gracias, amigo…

    “The winds of grace blow all the time; all we need do is set our sails.”

    Dear God please show us The Way.

  92. Thanks for your notes.
    I’m always in some way relieved that there are others that share some of the same feelings and have had some of the same experiences. When you try and navigate an ocean of feelings for years, you don’t know if you lost your way or have stayed true to a course. You just kind of float endlessly wondering if you are the only one out there on a broad expanse of nothing. Coming across others who have journeyed the same waters is comforting.

    I’ve kind of always wanted to start a blog myself, to talk about my own experience as a male growing up under these circumstances. I’m certain there are many more of us out there who float out on their own looking for a light to guide them, not really to a destination, since we all will find our own end, but a star or two to help them find their bearings.

    I’ve obviously have a ways to go but when I look back and think no one outside of those who were immediately affected in my family ever said a word, not even to each other, I’m getting there.

    My parents finally split when I was 14. It was a terrible, violent 2 year demise starting with the swat team at the house, him ranting in the basement holding a shotgun he is going to shoot himself or my mother and I (fortunately my siblings were at friends that night), neighbors evacuated from their homes, my mom bleeding from being hit repeatedly, myself as well from trying to get to a phone to call the police when my mother was screaming from her bedroom to call them. Windows smashed out from him getting back into the house when my mother locked him out and the 2 of us cowering in the basement hearing him come down the stairs with a rifle. I was 12 at the time. I vividly recall seeing him come down those steps, initially just his legs coming into view and a long black cylinder. 35 years later, I see it sometimes as if it was yesterday.

    Would you believe after all that, the police merely took him away for a night and even gave him back his rifles. Granted that was 35 years ago, but you have to wonder what they were thinking? Even more shockingly, my parents got back together within a week. We sold the house (hard to have the neighbors over for dinner after that I would guess), moved to a bigger house in a different city. They lasted another 2 years.

    The sexual and physical abuse continued on from where it left off and I remember then, late at night when I was 13 walking to my school yard, sitting on the swings in the dark, looking up at the stars, wondering if there was a god and wishing I could just die and it would all end but too “chicken” to make it happen.

    The things you worry about when you are a kid: you kind of forget looking back with an adult intellect that your thoughts and reasonings were that of a child at the time. You think ‘why was I thinking that? What was wrong with me?’ But being a child, thats all you were capable of when dealing with that kind of situation.

    My first concern when they finally split I hate to admit was ‘are we going to lose the big house that all my friends were so impressed with, my own room, the swimming pool, the promise of a car when I turn 16’.

    I felt embarrassed and even mad at my mom for having to move into a condo sharing rooms with my 2 brothers, no fancy cars, no pool and xmas was very bleak those next years. No big tree, surrounded by an ocean of presents. I didn’t even think for a moment until I was older what a struggle it was for my mom. She taught music for a living and we were now officially poor. Always seemed like such a farce when I would hear a piano lesson going on, the cheery xmas music and I would think… “are you kidding me?”

    I moved out at 16. Actually, I was ‘thrown out’ at 16. I discovered booze, drugs, loneliness, depression, despair all the while carrying the burden of shame and guilt. I lied, broke the law, and stole from people which only furthered along my feelings of shame and inadequacy. I hated myself as much as I hated my father.

  93. Will, I’m out of the country right now and don’t have much internet access, but please, keep writing! This is an excellent website and many people will give you lots and lots of encouragement. What we all need so much of! I’ll be back when I can and thank you so much for sharing your story. Makes us all not feel so alone.

    PS: I left home at 16, too, and it was ultimately the only thing that saved me. Getting out of that horrendous environment. Our guardian angels are always near…

  94. PS: Will, you are quite a writer! And I hope you write more:

    “When you try and navigate an ocean of feelings for years, you don’t know if you lost your way or have stayed true to a course. You just kind of float endlessly wondering if you are the only one out there on a broad expanse of nothing. Coming across others who have journeyed the same waters is comforting.”

    Amen. Gracias, amigo!

  95. Wow Will, the way you described everything, I know so well. I have felt the same. Just didn’t quite know how to write them down. If you don’t mind, I may write a poem from what you wrote. Thank you for sharing your story. I believe there are many who can relate.


  96. Lana: look forward to your poem :)

  97. Thanks Will! I will post it if I can get something written. Until then I have one I would like to share with you.

    Cold Tears

    You sneak into my room,
    In the middle of the night,
    And you do to me,
    Things that aren’t right.

    You said “Don’t be nervous,
    Just give into my touch,
    For you are my world,
    And I love you so much.”

    I tried to move away,
    But you pulled my close,
    Whispering the lies,
    As you kissed my throat.

    You said I was pretty,
    I’d get better as I grow,
    I’d learn how to do things…
    Things I shouldn’t yet know.

    You did your deed,
    And when you were done,
    You got up and said,
    “Remember, we tell no one.”

    As you leave my room,
    I hide the tears I cry,
    Can’t let anyone know,
    That I’m dead inside.

    Laying in my bed,
    I’m curled into a ball,
    And doing my best,
    To make myself small.

    Not wanting to move,
    Not wanting touched,
    You have no idea,
    I hate you so much.

    © Copyright 2011
    By Lana Killingsworth

  98. Hello Christina,

    Oh boy.. I am glad I ran across your site today. Your story is so similar to mine. It was hard to read it and a relief to see I am not the only one responding to my abuse this way. I grew up in emotionally abusive home and was sexually assaulted by my then boyfriend at 18. I only just realized the gravity of what happened within the last few months when I prayed with my pastor for Jesus to reveal areas that needed healing. I’d been in denial all this time. All the while aching inside and showing symptoms of abuse but not connecting the dots.

    I’ve been talking with Jesus lately and crying out. He’s shown himself to me in the most personal and tender ways that I was embarassed to even own it.

    I felt like i needed to get this out in print. I haven’t told many people yet. I am working up to talking it through with my counselor.

    Thanks for sharing your story and for the encouragment it is to me. THANK YOU!!!


  99. Hi,

    I recently (in the last 4 years) began speaking. Before that I was a vault, my closest friends, my fiance, no one knew what happened. Just my self and my nightmares, and my triggers… which to be honest, freaked everyone out anyway. They would say you are so guarded, like an incredibly tall mountain, you don’t let anyone in. So I went on an inward journey, I found MANY wonderful things. And I discovered, this burden is mine to carry, but I became unguarded, maybe I should share the load. And I started to talk, and validate my experiences, and unload the heavy weight, and anticipate some of the shadows. And I thought this is better.

    But I have one issue, I have problems with trust, so I cast my story before those I could trust and those I couldn’t. Naively, I learned another lesson. Recently I told someone my story because I was put into a situation where I knew there would be a lot of triggers for me, and he was along for the ride… so I told him (very little) but I let him know up front, some of this can be challenging for me. Anyway, I was triggered a few times, over the course of two years. And recently he lashed out at me, saying many things about my person and using what I told him against me. (ultimately my greatest fear) I came out on the other side of it BUT I feel very disappointed and unsure at this point on how to go forward.

    Has anyone else had this experience? How did you handle this?

  100. Michelle,

    I have experienced the same thing with my husband. When he did that to me, it cut me to the core. Unfortunately I didn’t “handle” it as I should have. I just went on as if it never happened. Because of my past I have never really been one to “stand up” for myself. Total lack of self confidence on my part which I have been working on. It takes time, lots of time. But with God’s help (in many different ways,such as things like this page and writing my poetry), I am getting better. Best of luck to ya ma’am and God bless!

  101. Dear Michelle,

    You have written one of the best reasons and most necessary reasons that people HAVE TO SPEAK OUT!

    Becoming a “closed vault” is exactly what happens, and the more we lock that child away and brick her up inside a wall to die a living death, the more she screams out to be heard… and saved! Recognized, listened to, believed and cared for. Hugged and given warmth and reason and let out into the light. I finally did that; I let that little ten year old girl out that I had walled up more than 50 years ago. That’s not when it started, but it’s when I “shut up” and walled her up, without even realizing it. She had been screaming and clawing and fighting to get out all those years. Now I am no longer “the nightmare queen,” and I can sleep easy for the first time in years.

    God bless you for writing what we have all gone through… every last one of us. You are an excellent descriptive writer and I hope you write more! You probably have a most touching story inside of you that would benefit the whole world… think about it! Write it out here or on a blog, chapter by chapter… I did, and it took me a whole year. But afterwards that part of my life was “free and clear.” And you write so well you would benefit so many! Use your real name or a pseudonym… any way you want to.

    As to your question about “what to do” and “if to tell”:

    People CONSTANTLY criticize me for “talking about it” out loud and in public, especially my biological family who protect the abuser and attack me nonstop. I am 63 years old and it still hasn’t stopped! I just keep telling my story anyway. They all cut me to the core – even the “well-meaning ones” who say “you are hurting yourself by talking about it” – hah! – I tell them I say:


    And “Please shut up and don’t tell me what to do and what I need to do if you don’t know what you are talking about!” This is what I would like to say, but don’t. For those who haven’t experienced it, they “run like roaches” when incest is brought up. As one person said (and it might have been on this website):

    “The taboo against talking about incest is still greater than the taboo against doing it, and that’s why it still continues.”


    I just keep plowing ahead, “once the bleeding stops.” To heck with those big-mouth mean and cruel people who will “lash out” and use anything they can against you when they get angry. I would never do that and I’m sure you wouldn’t either. Better to find out now rather than later, when you have years more of commitment, babies, houses and everything else intertwined. I’d rather be alone than be with someone who is going to put me down, and I’ve been with plenty like that. NO MORE!

    Thank God for the internet and the wonders we behold, and the friendships we can make with like-minded individuals!

    In truth and faith… Your friend and supporter, Catherine Todd

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

  102. Hi, I was sexually abused by my Dad. I started noticing the results of it before I could remember the incidents. The incidents are still a bit of a blur because it happened when I was very young. I actually think he purposely did it at an age where I wouldn’t remember. He had a Master’s in Psychology. I understand the whole cycle of denial because I had been in and out of denial for the first few years of my marriage once I actually started looking at this. For the past 10 years or so, I have stayed consistent that I know this occurred in my life but I still haven’t dealt with all of the consequences of it. I’ve been married for 17 years and I still struggle with misdirecting my anger at my husband and also my lack of desire to have sex with him. It’s okay once we get past the initiation of sex, but for the most part I feel like it’s a huge mountain I have to climb that I don’t want to climb. Thanks for being so honest on this site, I can relate to so much of it including the fear of getting in trouble and feeling like a zombie. I’m scared right now to leave this comment!

  103. Hi,

    I have been writing everything and then reading it. I just got to the part where the abuse started and I feel crabby, annoyed and don’t know what to do to make it stop, please advise.

  104. Jo and Joyce, please, keep writing! The more we share the more we find that we are not alone, and we are all not crazy! That’s the most important thing for me to find out. I don’t have any advice as I’m still finding my own way through, but it’s good people telling the truth and being honest, many times for the first time in their lives, that makes it all worthwhile. Somehow worthwhile. After being shut in a room full of lies, living in a house built on lies, it’s good to come out in the sun. Light and life and growth can begin. Dear God please show us The Way.

  105. Hi Jo and Catherine,
    I was thinking of writing in again, now I have my confirmation!

    I know exactly what you mean by when you got to the part where the abuse started you got real irritable. I am very very familiar with that feeling. I’ve come to realize that it happens when I touch up against the excruciating pain of the abuse. Sometimes, it is too much to bear and I have to take a break from looking at it for a bit…not deny it just put it on the back burner for an hour or so or a day or so. Then I look at it again. I had a breakthrough the other night when I was really struggling with anger and irritability and I was talking to my husband about it. He felt led by The Lord and said to me, “tell little Joyce that she is safe now.” He said it to me and even as I write about it I’m crying. I have not felt safe for so long, just basically frightened at some level or anxious underlying everything. When he said that to me I wept like I’ve never wept before and I felt sick with the weeping like I had the flu or something. It was like the pain was so great and the event so sickening…and it all came up. I hope this helps. Just know you are not alone.

  106. “tell little Joyce that she is safe now.”

    That’s it in a nutshell. That’s it. Thanks be to God and please keep writing!

  107. Hello I read this and it’s me. I’ve been through so much and I’m 25. I’ve tried and tried to figure out how to help my self my parents were drug addicts my mom was my world she was the only light I had but she wa sn’t always there my dad was very meantell me I was fat I had to grow up fast I had to watch my parents passout every night some nights I would wake up and find a cigarette in the bed burning I would have to pull the blankets off to keep them from burning the never did anything for us then a person in my family molested me for years I felt so dirty till I told my youth pastor and. I was made fun of my whole c hild hood. I was never pretty enough. Smart enoughThen I got married to the man I thought that. Would protect me. Well that was wrong he started verbally abusing me then it led to hitting and. Pushing I feel it was my fault everything is my fault. I still haven’t come to terms with my childhood and there more memories that keep coon up and I no I need help but I don’t no we’re to turn I had .to walk into my patents house to see my mom blacked out bad I thought she was dead but she slowly came to I feel I have a lot of issues

  108. It’s been so great to read this. I keep wanting to tell my story over and over and feel guilty about it. I want people to know and I couldn’t figure out why I had that need. i keep thinking I should be over it and should need or want to talk about it all the time. I’d never heard anyone say these particular things before so this was really helpful and validating to me. I keep thinking that enough time has passed (over 20 years) and I should be able to put it behind me. Hearing my therapist tell me it’s okay s one thing, but hearing that other survivors out there also feel the same thing is wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

  109. Hi,
    Wow, beautiful, strong, amazing……. all of u!!!!! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!!!
    I struggle every day…. I did find Jack Johnson he helped me a lot I would play it and then write my feelings down so that I could not be rejected….. I really appreciate all of you!!!!

    There’s traffic in the sky
    And it doesn’t seem to be getting much better
    There’s kids playing games on the pavement
    Drawing waves on the pavement
    Shadows of the planes on the pavement
    Its enough to make me cry
    But that don’t seem like it would make it feel better
    Maybe its a dream and if I scream
    It will burst at the seams
    This whole place will fall to pieces
    And then they’d say…

    Well how could we have known?
    I’ll tell them it’s not so hard to tell
    If you keep on adding stones
    Soon the water will be lost in the well

    Puzzle pieces in the ground
    But no one ever seems to be digging
    Instead they’re looking up towards the heavens
    With their eyes on the heavens
    There are shadows on the way to the heavens
    It’s enough to make me cry
    But that don’t seem like it would make it feel better
    The answers could be found
    We could learn from digging down
    But no one ever seems to be digging
    Instead they’ll say…

    Well how could we have known?
    I’ll tell them it’s not so hard to tell
    If you keep on adding stones
    Soon the water will be lost in the well

    Words of wisdom all around
    But no one ever seems to listen
    They’re talking about their plans on paper
    Building up from the pavement
    There are shadows from the scrapers on the pavement
    It’s enough to make me sigh
    But that don’t seem like it would make it feel better
    The words are still around
    But the words are only sounds
    And no one ever seems to listen
    Instead they’ll say

    Well how could we have known?
    I’ll tell them it’s not so hard to tell
    If you keep on adding stones
    Soon the water will be lost in the well

    thank you,

    just jo

  110. Michelle,

    I opened up to my mom…. She said “I forgive you!” I felt like i slipped on a rock on the edge of the cliff I had been standing on the edge of my entire life and fell. That was in 2009. I have been just falling ever since and closed up and have struggled more than I did before I said anything… I decided this year to let my big sister know. She cried and said I am soooo sorry sissy. I lost my two boys to their piece of shit dads in the last year and my job and my car but finally after five years of self torture and 26 years of suffering alone I am just now starting to stick my head out of my shell a little bit…. Its scary but I have registered for college classes, and applied for ptsd from SSD. I am 35 and ready to get to know me.
    I hope this helps, anyone who is willing to crush you is not worth your time… Easier said than done but I never had my mom around to make me feel safe anyway so…. Just my opinion. Smile, you are beautiful!!!!

  111. HI my Name is Leona Davis my mom die when i was 8 years old i move in to my two grandmother physical and emotional that my sisters and brothers and me had to go throw it hunt house my sexual abuse start at the age of 10 years old I was sexual abuse by older brother, two uncles in the home i live in the sexual abuse went on until i was 12 years old there was no help for me because i say to the police i was begin hunt in the home but the police don’t care so i had to stop the sexual abuse and physical and emotional was was going throw the way i got out of the home i star a fire in the home that is how i got out of the home that was the best day the day i was out of the home i was sent to a mental institutions in ohio i live in the mental institutions until the age of 18 years old i was sexual abuse by a worker who work in the mental hospital i told the boss and i was sexual abuse by a worker i took a pregnancy test and it came out positive worker was fired when he can back to work i was discharge from the hospital was went to live with a staff but i for get to say that i have a twin sister who all so stay in the same mental institutions with me i no longer like the mental hospital i take to the staff if she won’t me she will have to take my twin sister to i will not leave my sister the staff had a sister that work in the some place and she and her sister was also twins one sister let me live with her and the our twin let my twin live with her i went in i was to a depression so i had my little girl i went and get help i get help at the age of 20 years old and now i am 53 years old but in 2009 my store came out about the physical and emotional and sexual abuse start at the age of 10 years old I was sexual abuse by older brother, two uncles in the home i believe i would take this to my grave the anthony sowell serienkiller AFTER MY STORE CAN OUT I AM NO LONGER HAVE depression I AM NOW OFF ALL medications used to treat mental disorders I FILL GREAT AND I HAVE i forgive the people who abuse me that is the only way you can heal DON’T GAVE UP THERE IS A GREAT OF HELP OUT THERE FOR EVERYONE men, women and kids it will get harder before it gets better I JUST LOVE TO SAY THANK YOU TO ALL Behavioral Medicine & Counseling THE MetroHealth Broadway Health Center FOR THE GREAT HELP I NEVER BE CAME A drug and alcohol BECAUSE I ALL HAVE SO ONE TO TAKE TO NOW I CAN GO ON WITH MY GREAT LIFE AND ENJOY MY FAMILY

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