Reclaiming My Self After Sexual Abuse

Dec 23rd, 2012 | By | Category: All Posts, Steps Toward Healing


by Caden Ceirdris

When I was twelve, I watched the sexually graphic teen film, “Kids” with my siblings. I remember being surprised when my sister described what happened in the end scene as rape. That it was rape to have sex with someone who was passed out, asleep.

It seems obvious, but in some unconscious part of my mind, I winced. What had been done to me might have been wrong too. Perhaps I also deserved boundaries, both legal and personal over my own body, at least equal to what my sister was willing to give a fictional girl. Yet there was no one in my life at that point who would have even suggested that, let alone validated my experience; I was trained to passively accept whatever my family did to me, and was condescended to when it came to my emotions.

I wasn’t asleep when my older brother sexually abused me, and as I’ve had to face the reality of my past, I came to realize that the rest of the family wasn’t either. They were conscious, they knew what was happening. Often only thin walls separated them from the abuse, but they built up greater walls in their minds to avoid my suffering.

I know today that our parents taught my brother everything he knew when they sexually abused both of us from infancy. Yet I remember when I was little, my parents warned me of creepy old men lurking at the movie theatre who liked to touch little boys. They never warned me about themselves, about my grandmother, my cousins or siblings.

At that same age, I attended the New Years party at my uncle’s house where our entire extended family was present. His house was large and elegant; I may have lost myself in exploring as I went upstairs to use the bathroom when I felt an arm wrap over my chest and I was pushed, struggling into a dark room. I could only see a dark outline behind me in the bathroom mirror while he violently jerked my body back and forth, humping me through my clothes. When he finished and left me there, I stumbled to turn on the light switch and washed my face.

As the tears and water began to dry, I couldn’t see myself either; I just became numb. Despite the pain in my neck, and the rush of emotions that had come minutes earlier, I forgot. I went back down to the party as if nothing had happened. I had to leave it behind in the bathroom sink, and move on into the life they were imposing upon me; it wasn’t mine, it wasn’t based on my feelings and rights and individuality. In a second, the world had reset itself, the crime was gone. It could have been any of them.

I see now that in the beginning of my healing it was easy for me to understand the abstract notions of what was wrong, how children should be treated. But as long as I clung to those second-hand notions without relating them personally, I remained completely alienated from myself and my own feelings, my own history. Likewise, I could say many self-empowering things, but the current of my thought processes would still lead to that abusive place unless I really examined and worked through each feeling and what it was telling me.

To step forward and say that yes, that was me, I was the one being sexually abused by my family, was a massive step. It’s helped me learn that today if something happens, I can respond naturally; I don’t have to dissociate, to keep going or pretend it hasn’t happened for someone else’s benefit.

As a child, the idea that other people had boundaries confused me. To hear that it was illegal to vandalize mailboxes or trespass on “private property” when apparently nothing that was ever done to me fit into that category. Other people, somewhere out there (“adults”) had rights and could hurt me in pursuit of them, but there was no recourse for me. But today I don’t need my sister or a film to tell me that I have, have always had an absolute right to my body and my personhood that so many worked hard to invalidate back then. I set my own boundaries where I feel comfortable.

I remember the fantasies I used to have, only a short few years ago, that I would go through some terrible event—a car accident that would leave me paralyzed from the waist down. Then for the first time in my life, my pain would be real. And it would be validated. Who could deny a wheelchair so easily as they could the emotional scars of childhood sexual abuse? But my self-destructive impulses led nowhere, and these fantasies always ended in my desperately trying to find a cure—trying to learn to walk again. Because that’s really what I wanted all along, to look in the mirror and be able to see my life, see my authentic childhood pain and finally know that it was real, to be validated; to be able to walk into a new life.

I’ve noticed lately that for the first time that I can remember, I do feel that validation. I feel secure in myself, I don’t have fantasies of dying or being in an accident. I imagine myself, as me, starting from where I am now and making real progress. Because my imagination has lined up with my physical reality more then ever before.

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 participate in the discussion. If you would like to protect your privacy, you don’t have to use your real name. Email addresses are never made public.

Related Posts:
The Lie of “Letting It Go”
Domestic Violence: Why Did I Stay?
What We Wish Our Parents Understood About Our Sexual Abuse
Why I Talk About My Childhood Abuse Over and Over
Male Childhood Sexual Abuse: Suffering in Silence

Caden CeirdrisCaden Ceirdris a survivor of sexual, physical and emotional abuse, he blogs about his recovery at Proudly Sensitive. When he isn’t writing fiction and non-fiction, his other pursuits include photography, hiking, and tropical gardening.

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  1. Caden,
    Thank you so much for writing this. It really hit me again how invalidating the whole abusive system is. Even the “subtle” things punch you in the gut.

    This reminded me of something that happened to me when I was about eight. There was a group of kids on the school bus who would sit all around me and hit me and pull my hair and grab at my things all the way home. I can’t remember how long that went on or if I said anything at first or not. After some time, my dad called the principle of the school and threatened to kill him if anyone ever touched me again. I heard the whole conversation and it scared me. The next day, the principle road the bus and those kids didn’t bother me after that.

    That would seem to be a validating experience, but it wasn’t. I don’t believe my dad stood up for me, he was standing up for his property. How DARE someone touch HIS daughter without HIS permission! He sure didn’t mind anyone touching me WITH his permission. If he got something out of it, like another girl for trade or money or whatever, that was okay. But keep your hands off Fred S&*^$%#’s girl unless you pay up!

    Thanks for sharing so vulnerably. It’s really powerful!

  2. Caden,

    Thank you so much for sharing this.

    It took me right back to my childhood and the reality of pretending nothing happened and life went on. Because of this, I remember most of my childhood asking myself “Is this all there is to life?” I was so accustomed to being molested and then dissociating and living a false life, that the little girl inside of me was always crying out for a better one.

    Never finding one until after years of facing the truth of what happened to me as a child. Being touched on my way from the restroom, dissociating and putting on my masks in order to go on with life.

    Thank you again for such a powerful blog. Patty

  3. Thank you for sharing this.
    I too grew up with confusing boundaries. I was expected to respect certain boundaries outside the daily, but inside there were few if any. I was so conditioned to the abuse that I had no idea these things were not happening inside everyone’s home.
    I cannot react naturally now. I dissociate. I find adult relationships are difficult, but I am growing daily in therapy and through other groups. I have an understanding partner. I hope one day to be able to respond naturally as an adult. You have given me hope.
    Thank you,

  4. Christina, thanks! I can relate to the feeling of ownership, and being creeped out when I heard my parents threatening someone like that. My parents also repeatedly shamed me for not coming to them when I was bullied at school, yet my brother did much worse things to me right under their noses, and that is where I learned the important messages about my self-worth and whether anyone would help me.

  5. Hi Caden,

    I appreciate your depth and your awareness… thank you for sharing yourself so openly.

    This particular passage struck me:

    “I see now that in the beginning of my healing it was easy for me too to understand the abstract notions of what was wrong, how children should be treated. But as long as I clung to those second-hand notions without relating them personally, I remained completely alienated from myself and my own feelings, my own history.”

    When I was in college I wrote an honors thesis on trauma and language – I investigated the poetic works of many writers who wrote about rape and sexual assault and examined the impact it had on the way they articulated themselves. It was highly theoretical and speculative.

    What I was really doing was investigating the politics of silence surrounding rape and incest in our culture… and during that time I did not speak my personal history to one single person at all. It was like I was on this quest to understand all of these deep issues, but I never related them to me. It was strangely ironic. It felt safe to explore all of these dark issues when I kept them at an arms length. I learned to do that to survive. And then I had to unlearn it to thrive and really live.

    When I finally made the connection it was paralyzingly painful. When I brought all of these speculations home, into my body, my emotions, my experience… I thought it would kill me. But it didn’t. And that’s when freedom started.

    There’s so much power in truth.

    To truth,


  6. Patty, thank you!

    Maureen, I’m so glad I could inspire that. There is hope, once I learned what my personal patterns were for how and why I dissociate, I was able to let that cycle fall away and move forward. I also had a lot of difficulty with relationships, because if something was wrong I would often just shut down and not communicate, but I’m developing my voice now too.

    Take care,

  7. Kylie, that’s interesting (and so great about your progress!) I also wrote such essays when I was an English major at college, exploring trauma and abuse in the novels and poems that we read. And I wrote many fictional works while telling myself over and over that since I read a great deal of fellow survivors stories, I wasn’t writing about myself when I talked about incest. But in fact I had told my own truth in a very chilling way through some of these characters, I just didn’t recognize at as me yet. Thanks for sharing that,

    take care,

  8. *Virtual Hug*
    Thank you for sharing this. I feel that the store of male sexual abuse is under represented. The social stigma surrounding Male and Victim are strong. I’ve also had the misfortune of experiencing child sexual abuse… but I’ll leave it for what it is… just an unpleasant experience.

    I don’t know what’s worst sometimes, the actual act of sexual abuse or the reactions people have when you tell them. The first time I openly touched/spoke upon that subject I went into shock. In the fourth grade, a class discussion of courage took place. The teacher asked the class to give an example of something courageous they have done. When it was my turn, I told my class I fought my cousin… Before I can even finish, the majority of the class started laughing and making comments about how fighting isn’t courageous. I broke down there and then, became inconsolable and had to be removed from class. I never did tell them my cousin was my sexual abuser.

  9. Kevin, thank you, and for sharing some of your story. That’s terrible that the class wouldn’t even let you finish what you had to say. When I was 7 I first started having flashbacks to sexual abuse, and I tried to tell my sister about them and was met with the same response–interruption by laughter and dismissive comments. The invalidating emotional abuse when you try to speak up can be devastating. Today I’m only interested in surrounding myself with people that are going to accept me as a whole person, and as someone who isn’t going to refrain from talking about his life just because all of the stories aren’t funny or happy. And I know that my stories do have value, and they deserve to be heard, no matter what. We all deserve a voice, unashamed.

    take care,

  10. Thank you for sharing Caden. I really relate to your fantasies of wishing you had a physical pain inflicted, or at least something more “accepted” in society to be receiving sympathy for. I was sexually abused by my father when I was 13, and ever since then I’ve felt like a broken person, a shattered image of what I once was. Even though the pain was written on my face, I couldn’t easily explain to people why I would have panic attacks, or why I would mentally check-out of wherever I was at random times. I had friends in school who had a sibling die or their mom was fighting breast cancer, and the teachers would be sensitive and understanding to their situation, but my pain was private. Every Sunday at church, people would write their prayers on the chalkboard, asking for their cold to go away or to do well on a math test… When it got to my turn, all I could think about was asking for the abuse to go away, but I had to result to writing about something trivial. I so badly wanted people to know the reason for my odd behaviors, but its not socially acceptable to drop child abuse into conversation.

    I’m 26 now and I still struggle with it everyday. Whether I’m struggling to be intimate with my partner, or I’m cringing at seeing other daughters with their dads, I can’t escape what my dad has done to me. I want to forgive him but he still denies to this day that he did anything (even though just last month, for the first time, he admitted to molesting my older sister when she was 8). The wound seems to be reopened everytime he denies abusing me. I feel like a survivor because no one would ever know this has happened to me, I hide it very well, but even still, 13 years after my abuse, I’m still breaking from it.

  11. CJ, thanks for sharing your story. I also felt alienated for a long time when other people could express
    their emotions easily and share their more socially acceptable stories and
    be validated while I was trapped in silence. But that denial by society of something that is actually fairly common only helps the cycle of abuse continue. It’s terrible that your father plays this game of admitting to molesting your sister but not you. Is he trying to communicate that she is “worth” a confession while you aren’t? That strikes me as completely manipulative and dishonest of him. But given his partial admission, I don’t see how anyone else could deny your story. I’m sure no court would find him credible either. I know that my own mother is so deeply invested in her denial that she will never change or say anything that could help me. She doesn’t want to live in reality. But we don’t have to accept devaluing treatment from anyone in hopes that they might one day validate our truth. It stands without their input.

    take care,

  12. Hi Caden
    Great post! I love it when pain turns to inspiration! I had that same fantasy for years about getting into a terrible accident that would lead to validation and even love. When I was 6 I had a fantasy that a movie star I liked at the time would hear about my accident and come to the hospital because he felt ‘so bad’ for me. I know that dream was about being rescued and finally being validated. I never felt ‘valid’ and that was the biggest root when I dug into how I had gotten so ‘broken’. Realizing that I was not going to be validated by the people who abused me was the beginning. That was when I started to look for another way and that was when I began to see the damage they caused as a crime against me and finally I was able to validate myself. I don’t need ‘them’ to agree with me, to admit what they did to me, I don’t even need them to hear me anymore. I needed to hear me. Your awesome post today reminds me of this victory!
    It is great to see you here on OSA!
    Hugs, Darlene

  13. Thanks Darlene! Not feeling valid was such a deep seed in my life too. These fantasies have valuable clues inside them about our pasts, and it’s so great to be able to see them for what they are, and not go down the road of feeling ashamed. I always love to hear from you and how you’ve transformed.
    take care,

  14. i felt compelled to say something here. i normally am pretty quiet about my story. but while reading this one, i felt like i was looking in a mirror. i used to fantasize about breaking a bone or getting in an accident, and as a child, as young as 4 years old, i would try to jump from high places to break a bone, or “grab a knife wrong” unloading the dishwasher to cut my finger. it never even crossed my mind that i could be doing these things as a way to exhibit emotional pain. i’m 21 now, and although i’ve come a long way, i have a long way to go. holidays are usually hard anyways, but this year it was like i stopped feeling. my little sister said some very hurtful things, and all because what happened to me “has” to be kept hidden from the family to keep the peace. she said i was selfish for not coming to family gatherings, and no wonder the family doesn’t support me. i spent my whole life trying to protect her, but at some point i had to make the decision that putting myself back into the middle of my family was putting myself in direct danger and i wasn’t willing to live like that anymore. i couldn’t live with that kind of pain. so when my sister said i was selfish, i was expecting it to feel like a knife cutting into my stomach. i got emotional for a minute. i cried for about 15 seconds. and then it was like it never happened. and that brought me to realize that i’m still in denial about all of this. i just choose not to feel anything because those kind of emotions scare me. so anyways, i wanted to say thank you for being brave enough to post your story. it was pretty strange to read something i related to so deeply, and a little life changing to know i’m not crazy, and i’m not alone. thanks again and happy holidays.

  15. Brittany,

    Thanks for sharing your story with us. My own sister once said something similar–that it was no mystery why my father didn’t like me since I “made no effort.” This statement presupposed that there was no history where he had badly mistreated me when I was a young child, and falsely made it seem like all things were equal. But it isn’t anyone’s business to tell us we have to keep our abusers secrets or be around people or situations that make us uncomfortable. I’m glad you put yourself first this year. You deserve self-care, and to not be shamed for it.

    I’m glad you could relate,
    take care,

  16. I am a whole lot older than any of you guys. Times are changing and I’m glad about that, maybe in your lifetime, bravely speaking up and spreading your knowledge about sexual abuse and letting people know you will tell, this awful violation to our precious bodies will stop. Bless the guy who fought back. I saw myself in many of the comments posted. In my late age I still have difficuly with relationships, if something goes wrong I shut down and do not communicate. I cannot respond naturally, I dissociate.Thank you Caden for your story and everyones comments. I got a better understanding of myself that I can work on.

  17. Mercy, thanks for reading and sharing some of your struggle with us. I too used to just shut down and not tell the person I was with what was wrong, but it was really powerful when I started to speak up and found that simple changes could be made that way instead of my suffering in silence.

    take care,

  18. I’ve never read such a story before in my whole life, it’s amazing and great that you got through it; really inspiring.

    When I was about seven I was abused by my older cousin for a while and I never told anyone because he told me not to, he told me that I was his favorite and gave me money, sweets and brought me gifts so that I would believe I was his favorite. I still have never told anyone till this day, I regret not telling anyone because I don’t know if he will do it to anyone else. I didn’t want to break up the family but I wish I told someone back when it was happening because if I said something now they would never believe me

  19. Rex, thank you reading and sharing some your story with us. The way your cousin groomed you to accept his abuse is terrible. I can relate to wishing you had told; that is how I felt about my brother’s abuse for a long time. I took the blame and responsibility for that onto myself, not really looking at the fact that my parents had turned their heads the other way and created a sick family dynamic where I couldn’t possibly have told. Generally speaking, if parents create a healthy environment, their children will be able to tell if they’ve been hurt by someone. We can’t decide all of that on our own as children, or be responsible for stopping the abuser from hurting others. For these reasons many of us are unable to tell during childhood. Time having passed is not a valid reason for anyone to dismiss your story. There is no statute of limitations on our right to be heard and have our reality validated.

    take care,

  20. Caden,

    Thank you so much for telling your story. I really wish I was as brave as you. I want to seek help for the abuse that I experienced during my childhood, but it’s still too hard for me. When finally I told my mom that my dad molested me, she let me decide what to do about it, but she advised me to keep it a secret, and of course that’s what I did. I didn’t want people to know about it. I don’t blame her for giving me that advice, but I do realize now that it wasn’t very good. But she just thought that she was doing what was best for me and the rest of the family. She has no idea how badly I am struggling with this, and I feel like I can never talk about it, because we’ve moved on with that area of our lives.
    I can really relate to those fantasies about being in an accident, or finding out that you have cancer. It’s a relief to know that I’m not the only one who has those thoughts. There are some days when I just feel like laying in bed all day and hiding from people, and everything… I know I need help.

  21. Kayla, I’m so sorry about what happened to you, and that you’ve been largely left alone to deal with it. With my own ‘family’ I found that it was much easier for other people to move past what was done to me. But we deserve our own pace, decisions, voice and process, independent of whether someone else feels they have moved on. There’s no shame in needing help, either.

    Thanks and take care,

  22. Hello Everyone,
    The last 2 years I have started to finally healed form my childhood abuse. I am so proud to see these stories. The “Family Secret”, everyone knows but they don’t talk about it. I was molested by one uncle in my own home while my parents were there, by another at grandma’s in the bathroom, and by a girl cousin. I believe it started around the age of 2 and stopped maybe when I was 10. I told when I was 12, nothing happen. I have struggled with relationships, even my kids touching would make my skin crawl. I asked God for help and I feel like a new person. Finally free! Continue to speak up and encourage others to break the silence.

  23. Kimesha, thanks for sharing your story with us. It is so great to renounce those family secrets and speak openly about what was done to us, even if those who were supposed to protect us in the past stood by and did nothing, ignored us and our needs. We don’t have to do the same today.

    Take care,

  24. Thank you Caiden for telling your story, I too was sexually abused as a child by cousins, right under their parents noses. The thing is I’m not sure whether they were being abused by their parents or not, I always suspected they were, but never found out. The abuse profoundly changed my life, I acted out sexually as a teenager, thank goodness I never became pregnant. I now have what I think are PTSD issues and it’s hard for me to be intimate with my husband of 17 years. I have days when I go back there and others when I forget, I was around 8 or 9 when it started and I don’t remember when it ended. I just know that it finally did.

  25. T. Williams, it’s not always easy to find the specifics of the abuse cycle when other people are in denial and not self-aware. In any case, your cousin’s parents certainly did abuse you and their kids by the neglect that you describe, which is terrible. I’ve also had PTSD for a long time, and issues, knowledge, memories used to ‘ebb and flow’ in my mind, until I found a process whereby I go deeper and pull out the messages that the abuse taught me, how it affected me at the time and still does today. That provides me with some relief; PTSD is definitely curable.

    Thanks for sharing,

  26. Dear Caden
    I never knew how much my abuse affected me and i still am not sure whats real and whats fake
    i dont know how to deal with this at all. I was abused by my father and brother and my family knew too. I tried to talk to someone and I have talked to my fiance and other people but it doesnt help me. How can I fix this and get over it and move on with my life so I can become a strong and confident woman? How is it i am stuck dealing with this all these years later and my family just puts it off to be my fault?

  27. Christine, I’m sorry you’ve been struggling and nothing seems to help. It is terribly wrong and unjust that your family would act like this profound degree of incest was your fault and your problem. Personally I never found a therapist I was compatible with, so I had to rely on books and websites to help me develop my own intuitive therapy and find the resolve to deal with (end in my case) those destroyed family relationships. There are a lot of tips and explorations in the articles here at Overcoming Sexual Abuse. I also found a lot of wisdom from the books of Alice Miller and the website Emerging From Broken. There are good links and recommendations in the resources tab. When I haven’t had anyone I could talk to, writing it all out has really helped me.

    take care,

  28. I too have destructive thoughts. Like it will all go away if some kind of freak accident were to kill me. I was abused by my brother when I was around the age of 6. I don’t think I ever really completely forgot about what he did to me. I think I suppressed most of these memories.

    Until recently my mom asked me if it had actually happened. I have never we talked to anyone about this. Not even my closet friends. I am now 25 and finally starting to remember all of it. I can forget about it now. I can see now how his action have affected my path in life.

    Depression is a constant burden. My mother was also somewhat mentally abusive and I have learned to forgive her. I can never forgive my brother. He stole something that is unforgivable.

    Recently my boyfriend of 6 years found a paper I wrote about the abuse. I thought writing it all down would help me move on. In a way it did until he read it.

    It’s the worst feeling, knowing I subjected him to my discussing past that even I can not come to terms with. I have not been able to talk to him, I feel so dirty. And I hate know that he knows my deepest secret.

    I feel like my life is similar to your in many ways. I just hope one day my nightmare will be over and I can feel normal and love my self.

  29. Well told and well discovered – you found yourself in the truth.

  30. Elese, thank you for sharing. In the past I felt exposed, almost violated too when someone found out a slice of my abuse history. I would often end the relationship. But I don’t think you subjected your boyfriend to anything. We have a right to speak our truth and be open about what happened to us. Just hearing what we’ve gone through is not a burden to anyone who really cares about us, and we deserve that after suffering in silence as children. Something that has really helped me was coming to the conclusion that the abuse is not really my secret, but the secret of my abusers. I didn’t abuse anyone, and it wasn’t my fault, so I don’t deserve any shame and I have no obligation to hide the crimes of my family. Our abusers were disgusting, and we have don’t have to forgive them.

    take care,

  31. Thank you for sharing your story. I too am an incest survivor so I know what you are talking about. I have been to therapy for years and have worked on my issues and have learned how to deal with the repercussions I experienced from the abuse. Those first few years of therapy were very difficult emotionally, mentally and physically but I fought through the pain, embarrassment, shame and humiliation to get where I am today. I can say that I am at a good place however, since I first started therapy which was close to 25 years ago I have gone back two times. The reason being is that something like this never “goes away” it is never forgotten and sometimes there are issues that surface over time that weren’t there before so they have to be dealt with. Through going to therapy I learned the skills and tools that I needed to recognize triggers and how to best handle any anxiety or fear that I may experience but it never, ever goes away. It is part of who I am and after fighting it for years and trying to push it away, learned to accept it and embrace it. and I didn’t want to but, for me, it was the only way I knew I was ever going to be happy. It is not easy and it can be painful and scary sometimes but if you want to be happy and have a happy life you have to be strong enough to fight through all the unpleasantries, dig down to those dark scary places. The way I found my inner strength was by thinking that if I didn’t overcome this horrible experience then I really let the pedophile win, they got the best of me. They already stole so much that was mine and I refused to let them have anymore of me…I refused to be defeated, I REFUSED to let them win!!! I do not mean to make any of this sound easy by any means, believe me, it took me four years to get to finally feel “ok” or like I could function with out being all consumed by the “stuff” in my head. Perhaps maybe none of this applies to you but if it does, even if you found just a little part of it helpful,I hope you too can find your inner strength! I believe you can. You really are much stronger than you think, have a little faith in yourself, you will be surprised 🙂

  32. Hi Caden

    Thank you for putting my feelings into words.

    “Something that has really helped me was coming to the conclusion that the abuse is not really my secret, but the secret of my abusers. I didn’t abuse anyone, and it wasn’t my fault, so I don’t deserve any shame and I have no obligation to hide the crimes of my family. Our abusers were disgusting, and we have don’t have to forgive them.”

    This part of you reply to Elese pretty much sums up my feelings towards my FOO today. Forgiveness is often said to be the catalyst to healing and recovery. This hasn’t been my experience, in fact I’ve made great progress in the last few years without forgiving the people who refuse to acknowledge the damage they’ve caused.

    Like you, part of what has enabled me to heal has been to face the truth of what happened and understand that it wasn’t my fault, I was just a child. Now every day is getting better and better.

    Thank you for your beautiful writing.

  33. Dear caden,
    Something I forgot earlier. What do I tell my friends who dont understand why I dont speak with the family anymore? They seem to think that I am a stubborn child and that I gave up too easy and family is too important. I just cant be around the people who ruined my childhood. I just dont know what to do about it. I dont want to tell everyone what happened. Every time I told someone a friend or something in the past they judged me and thought I was lying to get attention. Although I was only a teenager then I am still afraid that this will happen again. There was one person I told when it was still in the beginning and not as bad and she then stole my cell phone and called me harrassing me telling me how much I enjoy it and she is going to tell everyone . It was extremely traumatizing and If I would have had the guts I would have comitted suicide at 9 years old. Then when I was 16 I got pregnant with my bf and she spread rumors saying it was my brothers baby boy I was mad. Im not even in the same country as her I dont understand why she would say things about me at all.

  34. Christine, it is devastating, I know, to be re-traumatized by people who want to shame or harass us for our decisions or tell us the abuse is our fault. What that girl did to you was terrible. I also opened up to the wrong people a few times, and I paid for that. Over the years since my estrangement, I’ve found the best tool is really choosing the right people to be around, more then precisely what I said. Trying to pick friends that don’t feed into the old patterns and systems I grew up with, but the new ones I’m trying to build. I find that just saying ‘I don’t have any family, they were abusive’ is fine for most interactions. If someone is a really close friend though, we should be able to talk to them about it without worrying about being put down. It’s also perfectly ok to draw a boundary and say, ‘I don’t want to talk about that’ if someone starts moralizing on the importance of family.

    There’s another article on OSA that discusses this topic:

  35. Shen, thank you!

    Melissa, thanks for sharing your journey. I can really relate to the sentiment that pushing it away and forgetting about it is not the goal. I repressed the memories of incest for most of my life, and I want to integrate, not re-repress that information and those feelings today.

  36. Daisy, thanks. I agree, forgiveness has nothing to do with my healing process and I make abundant progress without it. The ‘rules’ and ‘warnings’ that many people repeat about having to forgive and the supposed danger of letting ourselves feel anger are really sad to me.

    take care,

  37. Caden
    Thank you so much, you have no idea how much you have helped me with your blog and responses. I started my own blog and quoted you on something in there too. I still have some sympathy for my parents and probably always will. They just lost their bussiness I have no idea what happened and try not to feel bad but I still care just a little. Anyway again thank you

  38. I was abused by my brother from the age of three until the age of 5. I didn’t have memories of it until I was around 10 and then I asked him when I was in my 20’s if anything happened like I remembered and he said that they did, so I had to relive it all over again because those memories were real. I found out that he was fifteen and was looking at porn and wanted me to act out what he was looking at. I’m not giving him excuses, but sometimes it helps to know what was going through your abuser’s mind at the time of the abuse to give solutions to your mind. He did say he was sorry and the abuse never happened again, but the damage was done and I struggled a lot throughout my life.

    I married a verbally and physically abusive man and I left him when our daughter was two. I haven’t remarried and won’t until I learn to be attracted to the right guy. I had such a low self esteem at the time I married my husband. I thought that I didn’t deserve better so I settled. I will never settle again. I will pick a great guy next time, because that is what I deserve.

    My daughter is six and I am very cautious and very protective. If I ever marry again I will never leave my ex alone with her. I just won’t. It’s not worth the what if’s if anything were to happen.

    My brother has tried to move on with his life. I said tried because he got married and has kids, but I can still see the low self esteem he has about himself because of what he did. In a way I pity him. He has gone to counseling and I know to this day that he doesn’t regret it. I have found closer because we talked it out. It still is hard for me to be around him. I have grown to care for his kids. They love their dad and I think my pain has kept my brother from doing anything to his girls and if my suffering spared them in any way than it was worth it.

  39. Jen,

    Thanks for sharing your story with us, what your brother did was terrible but I’m glad you have closure. It is really great that you’re so determined to protect your daughter, and yourself from abusive relationships in the future. I know that I can only do so much about the children of my estranged siblings, but working on myself and protecting my inner child is valuable too. It can be very difficult to untangle those patterns and unconscious processes that lead us to places familiar to our childhood. But healing is possible, and no one should have to settle for abuse.

    take care,

  40. Thank you for sharing. yes i have too have been seeking Validation all of my life. I know that my Scars were also caused by the actions of another human being.When is society going to stop shaming and blaming the victims and labelling them the mentally ill ones? This only promotes an attitude that the Abusers do have the right to their perverted power because they are not held accountable .Their actions are Sick and criminal.the victims must Not be blamed anymore. We do Not ask to be victimized. Society must put back the Onus on the Perpetrators. They NEED Counselling for a minimum of 10 years until they discover why they are victimizing innocent human beings. I doubted my own identity as a Person…I think I thought that I must be an”Object” since adults had abused my rights as a person to my own boundaries. They violated my boundaries without cause ,without paying for their crime of invading my very precious Innocence. My life was stolen from me and now our policing system tries to tell victims that they are the mentally ill ones!!? I am not sick. I was badly mistreated.
    Sexual assualt is a crime against my humanity. I am a human being and I do have rights. Imagine a “Pastor” saying that Christians do Not have rights??!! That is crazy!
    I cannot believe that Jesus would say that a child or woman has no rights. Humans have the Right to say No or to stand up for their own space/boundaries. Yet who listens?
    i am One voice and I am speaking up. We must have more openness and Break the Silence. We need many more Treatment Centers for Transformation.Lives must be transformed into what we were created to be…no longer defined by the Criminal’s actions. The Abusers must not keep defining us. So many psychiatrists do not get it…for all their education! We are NOT the “Sick Ones”.We did Not commit the crimes of sexual abuse. These crimes were committed against us.
    There must be mandatory counselling for these perpetrators of at least 10 years so they can fully understand why they are harming other human beings….and stop the acting out.

    May Jesus help us and bless us everyone…even if we are angry with Him for not protecting us from the evil ones. We will endure and we are surviving. We shall climb the Mountain of overcoming and we shall Overcome.So Be It.

  41. Busybee, you’re right, we are not the criminals, we should not be the ones desperately hiding ourselves in shame. That burden should be with the abusers. Yet our society is setup for the opposite conclusion, and that is something we do have to change.


  42. It beats my imagination to know that after all I’m not alone in the issue of recovery from sexual abuse. Honestly,healing from sexual abuse is the best thing that can happen to any concerned individual. The miracle of bouncing back though not automatic,is instrumental to other major breakthroughs in affected persons lives. Speaking up so that all those who are vulnerable to thi

  43. It distresses me to even think that someone else claimed my life. I can’t even live with the knowledge. If I think of myself as someone who let them take over me to the point of thinking I have to “reclaim myself,” well I just lose all the hope that I’m supposed to have by simply living.

    My daughter’s dad always used to say, ‘As long as there’s LIFE, there’s HOPE.’ He said it to me, and I didn’t believe him until after he was gone so I never got to tell him that I finally believe it.

    However, if I have to think even for one second that someone took over not only my mind but also my body, then I’ll feel like the hope is gone.

    I can’t do that. if I want to live I have to think a different way. I have no idea if that makes sense but at least it’s the whole truth of the matter.

  44. Hi Caden,

    Thanks for sharing your story, I know this is an older post, but it’s new to me. It’s amazing the guilt that riddles me for pretending like nothing was going on for almost my entire childhood. I don’t know why I was scared to stand up for myself. It’s something that drives me crazy and I am a grandmother I feel like those thoughts should be gone by now. It’s so hard for me to get over that particular aspect of it. I don’t get it. Why didn’t I stand up for myself back then? I am new to this forum, but I am so glad I found this website. I am looking forward to being inspired and hopefully inspiring others as well.

  45. Sweetie Bee, ultimately if children are able to tell, if their home environment and the treatment they’ve received from their parents and others tells them that they can speak up and will be listened to protected, and not shamed or blamed as a result, then they tell. It’s not on us on as children to do that, and it could possibly be that the guilt you feel now for not telling is tied into the message you received as a child, that you were guilted and not given kind understanding which you certainly deserved both then and now.

    thanks for sharing and take care,

    Vicki Bee, We aren’t all required to use the same language in our healing process, so go with whatever is right for you. However, it isn’t a matter of “letting” someone take over your body when abused as a child; severe trauma from child abuse is stored all over the body, and repressed trauma is acted out, is present whether we realize it or not. In my own experience, I find that admitting harsh truths helps me a great deal and I don’t go in for positive thinking, but again, I’m just sharing my experience here.

    take care,

  46. Caden,

    Thank you for sharing your story. Reading your narrative, along with many others on this site, has really helped me feel like I am not alone.

    I’m 29, and only recently have come to terms with what happened to me as a child. I was abused sexually, physically, emotionally, and spiritually by both my mother and father. I have always consciously remembered the sexual abuse from my mother (which happened when I was in elementary school), but I had blocked out what happened with my father. For most of the past ten years, I suffered recurring nightmares about my father raping me. For the longest time I thought that they were strange dreams that had something to do with my own sexual disfunction. While taking a class on sexual abuse for my career training, I learned that many survivors of sexual abuse have such dreams as those repressed memories surface. It was a liberating epiphany that has had deep and profound effects on my life.

    I have suffered from deep depression for most of my life and have been addicted to pornography since early childhood. I have lived in guilt and shame for the last twenty years, believing that I was a freak and horribly broken, that my hyper-sexuality and need for sexual connection in order to regulate my emotions was somehow my fault.

    I too longed for some horrible tragedy to befall me so that others would offer sympathy to me, validate my own inner turmoil.

    I’ve come along way in my healing, but am still on the road to recovery. I often wonder if I will ever fully be healed, or if there are some wounds that will simply hurt until the day I leave this world.

    I am thankful for the opportunity to hear your story and the stories of others who have shared here. There is deep healing in knowing that we are not alone.


  47. David, thanks for reading and sharing your story. I’m so sorry you were also abused by both of your parents. I too had dreams where my brother sexually abused me for a long time before my memories came back. And I know what you mean, I also became addicted to pornography and sexual fantasies (actually direct recreations of the abuse I suffered through) from a very young age and thought for a long time that this was proof that I was ‘sick’ or ‘perverse,’ as opposed to the people who did this to me. But you’re completely right, we didn’t setup that cycle within ourselves, someone else did, and for me going back and investigating how that cycle began and how it was still working in my life has helped to gradually end it. Healing certainly is a long road, but we can share hope that with time more progress will come.

    take care,

  48. Hi,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I find it difficult to heal from my past. My brother touced me when I was 15, he was 23. Shortly after it happened, he was diagnosed with schizofrenia. When he was diagnosed, I felt sorry for my parents, because they felt they had failed as parents. That’s why i didn’t tell this secret for many years. After about 13 years I had the courage to tell my other brother wjat happened. He told me he didnt want to have anything to do with me and that I coulr never tell his wife about it. He was afraid his wife would leave him if she knew. Know I have told 3 of my friends about it. I am glad they support me in my healing process. It still hurts a lot and I don’t know if I will ever get over it. I admire you all for opening up and elling your stories. Know that you are not alone in this.

  49. Thank you Rhea. I’m sorry you were sexually abused by one brother and thrown away by the other. It’s very cruel for him to tell you that his wife would leave him if she found out that your other brother abused you–making it about him and saying that you would somehow be responsible for the end of his marriage that doesn’t seem based around openness and honesty anyway. I commend you for coming forward and telling your brother and several friends about what happened to you. Those family secrets are not healthy, and you as the survivor shouldn’t be responsible for shouldering all the burden and protecting everyone else when you should have been protected in the first place. Thankfully we can find support in healing even if our family denies our truth.

    take care and thanks for sharing,

  50. Hi Caden,

    Thank you for sharing for story and for encouraging others to share theirs. This is the first time I’ve properly spoken out about the abuse I experienced.

    For a long time I repressed the memories of what happened somewhere deep inside of me. I always knew there was an emptiness, a deep sadness inside of me, but I never quite knew why. I knew what happened happened but for some reason I knew saw what he did as wrong. I always believed that somehow I was to blame for what happened because of the way he made me feel as the abuse was taking place. I believed that as I hadn’t told him to stop that I must have somehow consented to what he was doing so it couldn’t possibly have been abuse. I now know that I was wrong as how can a 7/8/9 year old possibly fully consent to them kinds of things happening to them.

    I think that’s why so many abuse victims feel that they are somehow to blame for their abuse. Because their abuser manipulates them in such a way that the abuser is doing nothing wrong but just partaking in some consensual act.

    For many years after the abuse stopped I have subconsciously punished myself for what happened because I thought of myself as dirty. Using alcohol, drugs and random men to somehow fill an emptiness inside of me. It’s only now that I’ve recently had my daughter that the painful memories have re-surfaced and I’ve began to properly deal with these issues. It’s only now that I’ve began to realise that what happened was not my fault, I was just a little child. I am slowly trying to forgive my abuser for what he did so I can finally move on with my life after so many years. If I can truly forgive him then maybe the hatred in my heart will vanish and I can be free from his power over me.

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