Casting Off the Shame of Sexual Abuse

Aug 11th, 2013 | By | Category: All Posts, Christina's Blog


by Christina Enevoldsen

I was twenty-two. I’d been married five years when I confessed to my husband that I’d been having an affair. While he decided if he wanted to stay with me, I went to stay with my parents.

The day I arrived to my parents’ house, I sat in one corner of their living room while my mom and dad sat in the opposite corner. The living room was mostly used as a pass through to get from the front door to the rest of the house. But on this day, I wasn’t allowed entrance to the rest of the house quite yet. I don’t remember anything specific that they said, but the message was, “How could you turn out so bad when you came from such a good family?”

I’ve processed several layers of pain over that one instance. I’ve worked through the injustice of their accusations when my dad hadn’t had any trouble giving me to other men when I was a little girl. If allowing other men to have sex with me was so wrong, then why did he do it? I’ve also internally addressed the rejection and judgment that I felt from my parents when I so desperately wanted to feel their arms around me. Yet there was something about it that still lingered.

I hadn’t thought about that in a year or two when I came across something that explained why I kept going back to it. I was reading a story about another abuse survivor who had coped with her pain through a serious addiction. Her account was horrific, but the way she wrote about it felt detached and distant. She seemed to be telling the story about a fictional character instead of her own life.

Something about that struck me and I read and reread her story, curious to know its significance. I finally asked myself if there was anything in my past that I was disconnected from. Immediately, I saw myself back in my parents’ living room.

This time I recognized it. As my mom and dad situated themselves far from me, I was sitting with them. My inward posture toward myself was just as rejecting as theirs. They didn’t want to associate with me, they didn’t want to touch me, but I didn’t want to touch me either. I was desperate to avoid the contamination of my own filth.

My inward posture toward myself was just as rejecting as theirs. They didn’t want to associate with me, they didn’t want to touch me, but I didn’t want to touch me either. I was desperate to avoid the contamination of my own filth.

When I was nine years old, my father orally raped me in the corner of the airplane hangar that was behind our house. The hangar faced a public road that was only separated by a small taxiway and a large field of tumbleweed and tall yellow grass. I was panicked—but not of the act that was being perpetrated on me—I was terrified of being caught. In my mind, I was the bad one.

When my dad was finished, he threw my head off him in disgust. His sudden thrust seemed to demand, “How could you???” as though he was the victim of the rape. And then I was alone.

That incident only reinforced what I already knew about myself: I was worthless for anything except sex and I was disgusting for it. My badness meant that I was disqualified for love and compassion and that I deserved to be abandoned. In my shame I abandoned myself.

The shame didn’t come from my affair; the affair was the result of my shame. I learned it from the way I was treated in that airplane hangar and in my parents’ bedroom and at the sex parties and everywhere else my dad violated me. I wasn’t trash just because I was treated like trash. I was misused. I was mishandled. It wasn’t something I deserved and it wasn’t me.

Today, I can separate the wrong things I’ve done from the wrong things that have been done to me. I don’t condone or defend the ways I’ve hurt myself and others but I don’t abandon myself either. I can acknowledge the wrong I’ve done without feeling contaminated and without incorporating those things into my identity. I can see the good and bad things about myself and still thoroughly love myself. I’m loyal to myself the same way I stand with my son or daughter when one of them fails.

Over the years, I’ve done some things that have led to other people separating from me. No matter what I’ve done in my past or what I’ll do in the future, I won’t separate from myself again. I’ll sit with myself during the tough time with my arms wrapped around me saying, “I’m not going anywhere.”

Now that you’ve heard my experience and thoughts, I’d love to hear yours. If you’d like to comment, you don’t have to use your real name and email addresses are never made public.

Related Posts:
Why I Talk About My Childhood Abuse Over and Over
Male Childhood Sexual Abuse: Suffering in Silence
The Secret About My Abuse I Was Too Ashamed to Tell

Christina Enevoldsen is cofounder of Overcoming Sexual Abuse, an online resource for male and female abuse survivors looking for inspiration, encouragement and tools for healing. Christina’s passion is exploring new ways to express her healing and freedom. She and her husband live in Scottsdale, Arizona and share three children and five grandchildren.

[read Christina's story here]

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  1. I am still disconnected from much of what has happened to me. Your words both shocked and comforted me. I know the gruesome burden shame heaps onto us. The thought of joining with those that condemn us is such a great description of the thoughts of wanting to escape. Escape from the shame but also from us who are so shameful.

  2. Thanks for your story. I have had the same disconnection and somewhat the same feelings with my family. Only my husband cheated on me. That was my fault because I was not nice to him. In their eyes. That’s when my life really unfolded into major depression. I knew I was abused but couldn’t remember it. Just images in bits and pieces. So I kept telling myself I was crazy. It is still difficult to connect things to myself. I’m glad you had told me about your experience because I always felt so unloved by my parents as well. It was all there for control to keep you feeling like your shameful or nuts. I have so many memmories still keep up on me I still wonder if its real. My dad was the same. I keep wondering how things could of appeared so normal. My mom and siblings are still carrying the weight of controlling the way things appear. My dad passed away many years ago. I lost my siblings but in some way I feel relieved to know that I’m not helping them with all that work of appearing normal. Or blaming myself. I still do at times but it is a lot less work. I’m not subconsciously forcing the blame on myself anymore. Separating was my only way out because I would not have shown myself any compassion unless I looked at all those acts as if they were mine. I mean i had to tell myself what if this was not you and it was some other little girl. Then i could feel the outrage and loss .So maybe someday I’ll connect more to myself as you do.

  3. Bek,
    I really like the way you described that: “joining with those that condemn us.”

    That really summarizes the way we become our own abusers when we learn to treat ourselves the way we were treated. Thanks for sharing that!
    Christina

  4. Thank you for your courage to share….
    Thank you for seeing that opening the door to sexual violence that others have no view behind closed doors..so it could not happen…
    It happens to us
    ..thank you for your courage to show this horrible injustice to us as children then…and to the children the ones it is happening to now……

  5. Tricia,
    I can really relate to the way you’ve started to reconnect with yourself by separating. First, I separated from the abusive voices that sounded so “normal”. But I still carried those voices inside of me and I only started to see the truth by not seeing me as the recipient of all that treatment, but by imagining some other little girl in my place. That’s when the outrage came for me too. And compassion in place of self-hatred. I was finally able to begin to be my own advocate. There are so many layers to this!

    I’m really glad you shared how you’ve been able to process that. I think that’s really helpful.
    Christina

  6. I wrote about my life of abuse and without realising it I wrote it in the third person. When a friend read it who happens to be a therapist, he said “You have managed to write this as though you had nothing to do with it. It’s like a journalistc piece and you are reporting on someone elses life”. I realised then that I had in fact done exactly that. I could not have written it any other way as it would have been too painful. I had to detach. ASCA wanted to publish a portion of my story in Breaking Free but they wanted the piece they were using in the first person. This I did for them, but it would have been impossible to write the entire book that way. https://plus.google.com/118307093916871943169 This is link to my web site if you would like to take a look.

  7. I have always been very hard on myself I am very overly critical of myself and I have always wondered why. and this describes it perfectly in wanting to escape from the negative emotions and the negativity others put on me I distance me from myself like I am unworthy that when others criticise me they are right and I just don’t want to accept it. But they are wrong and so am I. I am working on being good to myself it is hard thou one of the hardest things I have found is stopping and changing my internal dialog when something goes wrong or I make a mistake or i am feeling low. especially when it comes to sexual relationships. I am working on changing my internal dialog instead of putting myself down and feeling small when I make a mistake or when I am feeling selfconscious I try to replace the things I used to say to myself like you are stupid fat ugly you are undeserving of love who would want you. how could you be so stupid, I have replaced that with it is not my fault I am deserving of love I am ok It is ok to make mistakes learn from the experience. i felt i have dealt with the sexual abuse i suffered i did not let it hold me back i went to college and i was living my life until this illness hit me and it brought up some feelings and issues that i thought i had dealt with but i realised the abuse still does affect me in some ways, i have not had bad feelings for my abuser since i was in my early teens i was about 13 and very depressed i felt i just could not let go of what had happened and i did not know how to process it all, i just kept going over and over it but i decided that i could keep feeling sorry for myself and keep replaying it all over and over letting it take over my life or i could get on with it let it go and live my life and i was doing great until i became ill
    one thing I struggle with is sex and relationships I seem to pick men that end up hurting me. I was in a relationship with the love of my life for four and a half years but he left me in 2008 on valentines day, a month later after a four and a half year relationship he got another woman pregnant. I put him on such a pedestal he was perfect to me I loved him so much and I was so happy with him I felt I had found the one. and I felt so happy and lucky . and when he broke up with me I blamed myself telling myself it was my fault I put on to much weight I did not do enough for him I am just not good enough for him. but I was wrong I am worthy of love he was not perfect he was only human and one day I will meet the right one for me but in order to be ready I have some work to do on myself, on being good to myself because how can I expect anyone to love and respect me if I do not love and respect myself. the last relationship I was in was with an older man and he treat me badly he messed me around but I still wanted him I even went back to him and again he messed me around he never cared about me he had issues of his own but I still am not sure why even thou he treat me so badly and with no respect why I A let him and B still wanted him. I think it is mainly about self-esteem I am working on it thou and in the future I hope i will make better choices. one of the things I have really struggled with and still do is my illness. I have diverticulitis I was diagnosed in September 2008 but i was ill a long time before i was diagnosed, I also have IBS and ME. basically I am pain every day the pain can varie from being ok and bearable to being so bad I can’t move without screaming out in pain and i end up in hospital. this has taken allot from me I went though depression as I went from having a full time job a flat of my own being healthy and happy I could go out with friends drink dance have fun I had a great life I was happy, then this illness hit and took it all from me I lost my job had to move in with mum and I lost my independence I felt like why me what did I do that was so wrong why me, I felt god or fate or something was out to get me that it made these bad things happen to me because maybe I deserve it. but I realised that it is not my fault I am ill there is no benevolent force out there making these bad things happen I am not being punished for some past life bad deed it is not karma. I do not deserve this. and I am now getting my life back on track I am even looking for part time work something in a call centre what I really want to do is help people maybe working for 999 taking the 999 calls. but mainly I want to get my life back I spent 3 years on morphine because of the pain but what I realised was I was using the morphine not only for the physical pain but for the emotional pain aswell and that is not good so I changed my medication and i have not been on morphine for almost 2 years. the medication is ok for the day to day pain but when i have a flare up of the extreme pain it doesn’t help and allot of the time i end up in hospital. but things are getting better i am giving myself permission to feel how i feel to not blame myself or put myself down. and when i am having a bad day it is ok i talk about how i am feeling and i take it easy, instead of beating myself up over something that is not my fault and i cannot change i am more accepting. i may never have the life i thought i’d have but that does not mean i cannot have a good life. i have amazing family and friends who are here for me 100% and i feel very blessed and lucky. i have my ups and downs my good days and my bad and i still do have depression but i am learning to deal with it all. and i feel better about my future. i have dealt with the sexual abuse i suffered i did not let it hold me back i went to college and i was living my life until this illness hit me and it brought up some feelings and issues that i thought i had dealt with but i realised the abuse still does affect me in some ways and i do have work to do but i know i can have a better life

  8. Ah Christina, I can totally relate to your story between your father and what he did to you. I experienced the same.In fact had it not been for this website, I would have stayed in denial drinking myself to death believing that I was a sick twisted pervert for thinking such a thing :( . I wished that my mother was as supportive to me as you had been to your daughter. However I accept that will never happen.

    From all the emotions I have experienced on this journey “Shame” is the most debilatating,as if I want to hide in a hole or run away from myself.Im still working on that with my therapist. Every time somebody looks at me or comes too close,thought of “Dont come too close, they will know,they will see” send me spiraling down in to a massive triggered anxiety attack as my fathers image looms large in my mind. I am fully aware those feelings and thoughts are related to him and the sexual abuse. It still send me in to rage and anger towards him when I experience it. Im hoping that one day I shall be able to detach from that feeling.

    This article has come at exactly the right time as I work towards my own releasing. I am learning to detach from my “shame”. Also like you said I am finally seeing my “trigger” attacks as my friends(rather than enemies) being shown to me from my “SELF. As they slowly reveal my story,and what happened to my inner child.Im slowly learning to love myself and have compassion and empathy .

    Many Thanks for your honesty and Many thanks for your website. I am sooo glad you started this as it has been a healing tool in my recovery.

    Love Always
    Sanita
    xxxxxxxxxxx

  9. Thank God for your courage to post this because I know it’s going to help a lot of ladies. I counsel young ladies who have suffer one form of sexual abuse or the other and it breaks my heart to hear them. My fear is that it might never stop but we can step up to defend each other.

  10. Hi Christina
    I also had so much confusion around this about what I had ‘done’ verses what had been done to me. Abusers, controllers and manipulative people make sure to indicate to the victim that they “asked for it” or that they “made the perp do it” ~ it is all part of the grooming process and the way that the guilt is transferred off themselves. It’s disgusting! The more I grow in truth and away from the fog, the more I see how much the perpetrators of abuse make sure the victim is always in the spin of questioning themselves so that they never catch on to the truth about the abuser. This spin and misplaced guilt and shame results in depressions and all kinds of other issues until the victim can sort out the truth from the lies. This is a great post. And it is wonderful to have a new article from you!!
    Hugs and love, Darlene

  11. I was abused by my step-father starting from a toddler until adulthood, which still brings some shame, (I can’ t seem to stop the thoughts of, ” How can adult not stop this?” He got me pregnant when I was only 17 (still shocked it didn’t happen sooner) and nobody knew (supposedly) that it was his even though I never really went anywhere, esp with boys (he made sure of that). I had to walk around with the shame of being a pregnant teen, lost friends, had to drop out of the pep club and reg. school n get home schooled then went to a Young Mother’s school, after a full-term pregnancy, the baby was a stillborn. I still don’t know how I got through it all, but I graduated high school n went to college, but became pregnant and I was a single mom (not my step-dad’s) for 7 yrs then while I was going to school I met my now husband of 20 yrs. and he was the first person I told EVER. After we told my family, my mom called me names n said I “/wanted it”. I eventually cut off ties with my family n my mom hid my son after he ran away, telling me she didn’t know where he was. My siblings spend time with the perv and allow their kids to be around him. They brainwashed my son against my husband, I don’t have anything to do with any of them.

  12. Hey Christina,
    Still having issues… My perp was my brotherinlaw, my sisters husband. But an update, after years of us not talking, she is back in my life. He has been having an affair and asked for a divorce. He has shifted all blame to her, still denies what he did to me and frankly she still is on his side. Here is my question. At what time is it best to ask her once again to talk to me about what her husband did to me as a child? I feel it in my heart, this may be my only chance at closure. She starts bad mouthing him and I have to stop myself or excuse myself for fear of me saying the wrong thing. I need validation. From her. Not sure how much time I should allow before I bring it up. She is really trying to be my sister again after the many times she has abandoned me before because of him. My whole family just doesn’t talk about it, and when I need to they shut down, which makes me feel unloved, not validated, not important. These acts have had such a significant affect on my adult life… I’m fighting mad and ready to take back control. I want my life back!!! 12 years of my life have been taken away by depression since I told the truth, more like screamed the truth & no one is listening or seeing the signs!!!! I’m an emotional wreck and my daughter has got to stop paying for my mood swings!!! I just want to be heard!!!

  13. Abuse, to this day I still pull away from sex, I turned 56 last week and this happened between 11 and 14. I abused my body with sex, drugs, food and alcohol for many years. I finally told my Mother what her common law husband had been doing to me, with no result. My Mother had 3 other children by this man, and to this day two of them don’t want anything to do with me. Like it was my fault. I still live with these demons and do not associate with my Mother. This man is far away from me and has been for decades.The shame and sex problems will nevr go away. I am married to a wonderful man and he understands the pain I went through and hates my family for it.

  14. Gracellyn,
    After being silenced for so many years, it feels liberating to speak up. Thanks for your comment!
    Christina

  15. Sandra,
    I’ve had that experience of writing in the third person as a way trying to keep the pain away too. I’d switch back and forth from first to third. One time, I started writing what I thought was a fictional story and then realized part way through that it was MY story. When I realized how I was separating, and when I was ready, I rewrote it in the first person and really sat with my pain. It was so hard but it felt good in a way to reconnect with myself. Before that, I was leaving myself out of MY story, which was MY life. Reclaiming that part was empowering.

    Writing can be such a powerful tool in the healing process. Thanks for sharing!
    Christina

  16. Thank you so much for sharing this Christina, it brings up so many things for me. You’re right, It is so important to separate the two–I’ve always had a tendency to “pile onto” real things I’ve done (and a very judgmental view of them) to all the imagined faults that my incest-family placed upon me. Because my mother always insisted that somehow everything I did added more “proof” to the fact that I was fundamentally gross and unworthy. Even my eating disorder was taken by my family not to indicate how profoundly I had been abused but just as “yeah, that’s what we’ve always been saying, you’re a ridiculous, incompetent joke.” And I learned to do that to, I used my own eating disorder as proof that I was unlikeable, and I hated myself just as much as they did.

    Reading your story of rejection reminded me that my parents both used me sexually and sold me to many adult men and women, and even let them videotape me being sexually abused by adult men at eight years old. And that was all ok, all acceptable to them. But when I came out as gay at 20, said that I wanted loving, kind relationships with people like me, they immediately froze me out, rejected me, denied that I had ever said anything. They let fellow pedophiles come into their house and make child pornography, but told me I could never bring anyone I was seeing home. And my mother lectured me about aids when I came out, despite the fact that she did not protect me from stds when I was being abused as a child. I realize that the message they gave me was that pedophiles and child pornographers were ok, but I was totally disgusting, worse then they would ever be. That’s really insane! No wonder as a child I thought that because my mind was filled with images from the sexual abuse, I must have been the sick one. I love what you said about standing with yourself, that’s something I’m working on.

    It is so great to see a new post from you!

  17. She said she stood by me and probably wants to believe it. Reality is that with her silence she proved her rejection. My anger, my disgust with my father’s sympathy for the perpatrators, I hope she knows it is so vivid because she shares the blame.

  18. Rachek,
    Wow, you shared a lot of really good insights. I’ve found the same thing about relationships and self-esteem. I tend to collect people in my life who share the same view of me that I have of myself. When I believed that I wasn’t as worthy of respect and love as others, I attracted people who reinforced that belief and I was treated abusively. The more I saw the truth about my value, the more I started to surround myself with people who treated me as an equal.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Christina

  19. Sanita,
    I agree with you about how difficult it is to deal with shame. I’m amazed anyone gets past its lies.

    I’m glad that OSA has been so instrumental in your recovery. Thanks for letting me know!
    Hugs,
    Christina

  20. Lucian,
    I think abuse isn’t likely to ever stop, but I’m glad for the sources of support and healing that are available. Thanks for being a part of that!
    Christina

  21. When I was Sexually Abused I didnt want my parents to give me a cuddle because it felt wrong & I felt dirty & Ashamed of what had Happened to me. But Evenually I gave in & Let them give me a cuddle. Its still very Pain full to talk about it still but I have Councerling which is very hard at the moment but other days are not so bad. But Im in a relashone shone ship which the next step is alowing my fiance to touch me its so hard to remeber that he is that not that person.

    From Clare

  22. Darlene,
    So true! Shame is a huge part of the abuser maintaining power. Unfortunately, we live in a world that is very shame-based so it seems normal instead of such a destructive lie that needs to be rejected. So many people believe that shaming someone is the way to correct behavior, yet it has the opposite effect.

    Thanks for sharing your insights!
    Love and hugs,
    Christina

  23. Tammy,
    I’m so sorry you had to carry that shame that belonged to your parents. Thank you for sharing your story.
    Christina

  24. Jenn,
    I can hear your frustration over not being heard or validated. I can’t answer your question about talking to your sister. In my own life, I couldn’t convince or persuade my mother to believe me. The pain of her betrayal was agonizing. But I found that as much as I wanted her support, not having it didn’t limit my healing. The most important person to hear and validate me was me. I hope find peace in your search for support.
    Christina

  25. Linda, I’m glad to hear that after the betrayals you experienced you have a husband who understands you. Thanks for sharing!
    Christina

  26. Caden,

    “Because my mother always insisted that somehow everything I did added more “proof” to the fact that I was fundamentally gross and unworthy.”

    Exactly! And the reasoning is that if a person is fundamentally gross, then what right do they have to complain about gross things being done to them and the only reason that gross things are done is because they deserve it in the first place for being gross.

    It’s the same with my mom. In the lawsuit they are bringing against me, my mom is bringing up all kinds of things that I’ve done (and some that I haven’t) to prove that I’m a bad person. But they are all things that are the direct result of growing up in an abusive home. So in attempting to discredit me, she is really providing more evidence in my favor.

    I’m glad I have an understanding of all that now, but for years, all the ways I coped with the abuse only added to the shame of the abuse. What a relief to have that mountain of shame off!

    It’s great to hear how you’re getting free too. Thanks for sharing!
    Christina

  27. Bipolar bear,
    I’m sorry that you didn’t get the support that you needed. I hope you’re giving yourself the support that you deserve.
    Christina

  28. Clare,
    I can relate to that. I didn’t want people to touch me because I didn’t want to contaminate them and then face more shame when they found out how dirty and disgusting I was.

    I’m happy to hear that you’re working through that. Thanks for sharing!
    Christina

  29. Dear Christina,

    You are very brave and I hope you know how much your story helps others who have faced the same things.My mother was severely sexually abused by her father. It’s her first memory at about the age of 4. It was continual until her parents kicked her out at 15. She told her mom once and she slapped her face and told her to never say anything like that again. She didn’t, until she told me, (her adopted daughter), when I was just a young girl. My mother was unable to produce children of her own. I never felt like a child ever, I felt like I was the adult in my FOO. My mother never wanted to get help, or go to counselling. We hardly ever went near any of her family members, my one uncle is a child sex offender too. I was never physically sexually abused, as I was terrified to get that close to anyone. I knew it was a possibility, as mom reinforced that men were mostly bad! To make a long story short… my mother never thrived as a human. She died at an early age from alcoholism. My father, who she really never trusted and beat down verbally with her explosive anger, also died early from alcoholism. My one younger sibling took his life because of the chronic violent history. My grandfather went to his grave with no one (other than family), knowing what a ‘perv’, psychotic abuser he was. The rest of my mother’s family is sickly and in denial and completely out of my life. I finally can breath. I held a lot of my mom’s shame but have gotten help for my own issues and I continue to read and pray and give thanks for the love I do have in my life. I’ve had to teach myself what love actually is and love myself. Stories like yours and the people that comment continue to help me with my own personal growth. I am grateful for your honest bravery. I wish for you a happy life full of love.

  30. Hi Christina! your story touched me deeply and it has come in divine timing. This is where I am on my own journey and I feel like your story has healed a part of me, thank you so much for that.

    I have come to realize that there are more of us than I thought and it’s through the courage and bravery that we all come together and heal from our painful pasts. Everyone that shares their story seems to be sharing a little part of my own experience and I find great comfort and relief knowing that I am not alone and I don’t have to carry these burdens of shame and guilt anymore.

    I have come a long ways in my own healing journey and each time I peel back a layer I find more courage and strength beckoning me to continue moving forward. This journey can feel very lonely at times but I’ve also learned it’s in those times that I find my greatest healing. I realize that all the love and nuturing I need comes from within myself and there are no limits to how much I can receive. I’ve learned to trust a little more and reach out to the resources that feel right for me.

    I admire you so much for your sharing and my heart feels full of compassion for you and for me for what we have endured. My perspective on life changes daily as I clear away the guilt and shame that I have held close to my heart most of my life. I’m coming up to 50 years old and I made a promise to myself that I would free myself from my dysfunctional past and open my heart to love.

    I’m starting to find my joy as I venture into this new world of discovering the truth of who I really am.

    Bless your loving heart for coming this far in your journey and sharing your truth with all of us. I wish you great joy and abundance as your move forward. Namaste!

  31. Christina,
    The first thing that struck me when I read your article was “How could you turn out so bad when you came from such a good family?” I actually chuckled. Not because it was funny but because how common these “one liners” and/or messages are in families where sexual abuse takes place. When I confronted my father about my sexual abuse his reaction was “How can you accuse me of such a thing? You never wanted for anything.” i.e. He was such a great parent. What possibly could have happened?! True, I never wanted for material things but absolutely everything else I needed was lacking.
    Thank you for being so candid when describing your sexual abuse. I find myself often hiding behind the term “sexual abuse”. In reality the memories I live with are much more vivid and powerful than the term “sexual abuse” can convey. BTW great pic of you. You’re beautiful inside and out :)

  32. Yvonne,
    Thank you for your warm wishes and for sharing your story. I can relate to having to teach yourself what love really is. I had so many mixed up ideas about love and I’ve had to challenge each false belief over the years. Among other things, I thought sex and chocolate were how people showed me love and I thought compliance was the way I showed others love. I sure couldn’t love myself with those lies in my belief system!

    I’m glad to hear that you’re doing things to support a healthy life for yourself. I wish you a happy life full of love too!
    Christina

  33. Lora,
    I’m so glad that you know you’re not alone. I absolutely love what you wrote:

    I have come a long ways in my own healing journey and each time I peel back a layer I find more courage and strength beckoning me to continue moving forward. This journey can feel very lonely at times but I’ve also learned it’s in those times that I find my greatest healing. I realize that all the love and nurturing I need comes from within myself and there are no limits to how much I can receive. I’ve learned to trust a little more and reach out to the resources that feel right for me.

    That’s how I feel too! I think it’s so important to acknowledge the resources we have inside of us and to celebrate our progress. It’s so validating to look back at where I started and see where I am now. I’ve had a handful of friends who have given me support and encouragement and I’ve gleaned better understanding from books, but I did the work. I’m proud of myself and every survivor on the healing path deserves to feel proud. It’s sure not easy but it’s so worth it!

    Thanks for sharing that. I wish you great joy and abundance in your journey too!
    Christina

  34. Jennie,
    Thanks for the compliment! :)

    There are so many things you wrote that I want to respond to! Yes, the logic that holds together the abusive system is ridiculous. I used to fall for those kind of messages since their “language” was so normal to me since that’s all I’d known. I was hiding the abuse from myself so if someone could explain it away, it worked with what my mind wanted to believe anyway. I already believed that I was pretty much the filthiest and lowest person in the room wherever I was so if someone discounted me, it only verified what I felt about myself. Discovering the truth has been the most empowering part of my healing!

    Thanks for sharing that!
    Christina

  35. Hi,
    I was sexually molested by my brother from age 8-16. I never told anyone until I was 21. I am now 34 years old. I have never had a drink, done drugs or smoked. I have been married for 5 years and I still cannot have intercourse with my husband because I am so traumatized. I have several mental health diagnoses, as well as Asperger’s. I am grateful that I have not abused any substances or have any addictive behaviors.
    I just want to thank you for being brave enough to share your story, use your real name, tell your whole story and start this dialog. By you starting this dialog I am sure that you have enabled other women to acknowledge what has happened to them and hopefully helped them realize that it is okay to be open and honest and to get help.
    God bless you for the work that you do. May you continue to help more victims of sexual abuse.

  36. Christina your account mirrors mine. I was sodomized by male cousins and the neighbor and his son. I was raped by my sister as well. I always felt like the bad one or the ugly one. I was never good enough by my perps. Well good enough to be used and thats all it ever was. I cannot be intimate with anyone. I have an eating disorder and I have PTSD. I have never once felt like a victim. I just never feel good enough to be loved just as I am. I always feel flawed. Somedays I just wish the horrible nightmare would end. I am so sick and tired of feeling not good enough and in the end I am a shell of a human being. Less than a man almost sub human.

  37. Thank you, Susan!

  38. Glen,
    It breaks my heart to hear how much pain you’re in. You deserved to be protected and respected. I hope that one day you’ll know that you’re lovable and valuable just for you.
    Christina

  39. Because of the molestation I experienced I harbor so much anxiety that even commenting on this post frightens me. I have vague memories of what happened to me throughout elementary school. The images play over in my mind in little snippets. I do know that my cousin repeatedly molested me and I know she did it probably because she too was molested, probably by her mother. And, her mother probably molested me too. I was probably molested by other people but I mentally checked out as a child as a way to distance myself from what was happening to me. So my memories of it all are foggy. I do remember feeling scared, not protected, nervous, bad, and dirty.

    The part that is on the surface is the fact that now as an adult there are triggers that remind me of the trauma that I experienced as a little girl. When those moments are triggered I react in a very mean and combative way, especially toward my boyfriend. I find myself putting all of my childhood anger on him when I don’t feel “protected”. I go to therapy every week to try to work on my issues but I’ve realized that I have been avoiding this topic. I feel terrible for the way that I have treated my boyfriend. He is probably the most perfect man for me and I am afraid that I am pushing him away with my issues. He doesn’t deserve to be treated like that. He’s not perfect, but I know that when I am mad at him my issues scream louder than the subject at hand. I want to change that. I’m working on it. This is the first step. I know I have much longer to go, but I am thankful for your post Christina.

    I refuse to let the disgusting people in my past dictate my attitude and alter my mood so that I can focus on hating everyone else but them. It’s not fair and I won’t let it run me anymore.

  40. Hello Christina,

    Hello Christina,
    Thank you for your story. I feel like i am at that cross-road. It is exactly like you describe it. Staying loyal to my self or abandoning myself. I was at the lowest point of my life today. Still keeping silent about my needs and wants. Letting other people treat me like however they would like. Making excuses for them on the way. They’re in a hurry, they need to work, they don’t have time, their needs are more important than mine etc.. Putting myself at last place and accepting that. Even though my own suffering inside myself grows and grows. Being loving and kind to others and expecting nothing in return untill i have nothing left to give and there is no one there to care for me. This is a repeating cycle in my live. I am now 36- years old.
    My uncle and my father molested me as a young child. My mother and brother were fysically abusive with me in my childhood. My mother always claimed that she was an exellent mother and like your parents always questioned me, how i could turn out so bad. My mother blaimed me for my parent’s divorce. I was blamed for every choice i made. I still always tried to love myself and cheer myself up when i was alone. I just accepted that i didn’t deserve somebody else’s love.
    In relationships and friendships. I would sacrifice my own needs and wants. I will attract dominant relationships and dominant friends that will snow wash away all of my needs, take me for granted and get me to work for their own needs and wants. For support, I learned that i could rather be alone.
    I have learned to be my own best friend as well as my own worst enemy at times. My soul and my mind kinda agrees on this arrangement but my body is not. My body is always in pain and scared.
    I have let myself be hurt for so long and you know, there will always be someone on the corner waiting to do what i expect them to do. I needed to read your message so badly today. I think your story can even save lives. You are very brave, Christina. I need to learn to love myself every moment but also expect love in return every moment. Expecting love from others contributes on my self-esteem. Which has hit rock bottom. If i expect the worse, i will get the worse. Although i have been thought to accept the worse, i now have to learn to accept the best. I need to keep myself and myself save. Not just mind and soul but my body to. I am loyal to my children and now i need to be loyal to myself. I will buy your book. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

  41. Dear Christina
    I’m married to a wonderful man but it’s a real struggle to be the woman I want to be. The woman that God created me to be. The woman that has natural desires and can enjoy the wonderful, loving relationship between husband and wife. It’s not happening. My husband is so patient and loving. I want things to be different but I don’t know how. I can’t even begin to unravel it all in my mind because my mind won’t allow it. I know what’s happened to me and also what I have done. I’ve reached forgiveness for those who have hurt me and I’ve forgiven myself for the stupid things I have done in drink/drugs but I am still not unable to connect on that deeper level with my husband. We have an amazing relationship apart from in the bedroom. It’s traumatic and I made my husband cry the other day because he felt that he’d hurt me. (He hadn’t – only I was hurting myself in my mind) I dont’ know where to go from here for help……

  42. I am 7 months pregnant with my first child and I want to make sure that I raise my child the exact opposite way than mine did. In reading your story I found myself back in the front seat of my fathers grey Oldsmobile in an empty parking lot being abused in the same way you had. Your story made me feel not so alone because I have always felt like an outcast. Thank you for being so candid and giving me the courage to speak about my experience.

    Ness

  43. This one girl, when I was five years old walked me innocently into a room for what I thought was a nap. We layed down and she took my hand and put it to her crotch. Messed hey, but what is really messed about it is that she is a family member who must have been in her twenties….. I was going to report this the right way but I thought that since this post is on the internet, with the help of spam, it will circulate eventually into statistics. Bottom line is, I reported it and it’s time for the world to hear about it. Or just you guys in general lol. Another funny thing as, I am a Male who is twenty one years old. And since this is a blog I don’t want to hear, “oh big deal when I was this, yadda yadda yadda.”

    :)

  44. Soooo glad you posted again Christina! Your blog is the first one I stumbled upon last year and has been so helpful in my healing journey.

    How I can relate to being disconnected from myself! It was such a survival mechanism….didn’t have many other options as a kid…and these perpetrators count on that! I’m how learning to reconnect or maybe even just connect with myself for the first time.

  45. the dissociation – disconnection from feelings is so common, but also difficult to recognize, I think because we don’t want to have painful feelings and because it’s always harder to notice something that is missing, rather than something right in front of us

  46. after A phone call from my Youngest daughter who is 23 now and she has A 3 yea old daughter , my only girl of 6 grandchildren – after all these years I finialy Understand my ex husband (17 years married) he sexualy abused my babies -its true I Know in my heart it is true -today after much googling I finaly found Your page Since my step mom died almost 3 years ago it has opened A flood gate the past
    2 years my Memories of my own pre talking years have come back to me -I supose to prepare me further to deal with how horrible humans Can be -I haven’t
    fallen apart
    this time and your writing speaks to my heart -I’m sorry for rambling -but You have me thinking and Correcting in new ways -and I’ve only read 3 of your pages
    my dad told me Secrets  like I was his wifehe told me how horrible mom Was to him how she wouldn’t have Sex so he had no Choice he Came to me because he knew how much I loved him and he only married mom to get me out of that Foster home. So of Course I owed him of Course making Myself available sexualy to my husband no matter how sick or twisted would shurly keep my children safe from any possible abuse but it didn’t he is the worst of offenders preying on the VoiceleSS most innocent of us all -babies -infants -toddlers -once they can talk they are Safe from him he lacks the Social skills needed to cultivated the necessary relationship to sexualy abuse A child able to speak -and everyone Knows babies don’t remember -but they are wrongwe do remember

  47. Dear Christina:

    This morning, after reading your story and recognizing the similarities between you and I, my best friend sent me a link to your blog. She knows me very well and the struggles I’ve faced and thought that your blog may be helpful to me…..she’s a keeper! :)

    She was absolutely right. I’ve done much healing over the years yet the effects of my Fathers inappropriate behaviour toward me still linger. I’m a much healthier person than I once was when substance abuse was my best friend, but as I’ve found over the years, healing has it’s peaks and valleys and so far I haven’t felt completely finished with it.

    The abuse (sexual molestation, beatings and emotional torcher) began when I was 14 and lasted until I left home at 18. I remember getting my first apartment in a city 4 hours away from where my parent’s lived and still waking to lock my bedroom door for fear of his advances. I spent much of my 20′s being very tired from sleep deprivation and finally begrudgingly agreed to antidepressants and slept for the first time in probably 10 or more years.

    When I was 28, I was “home” for a weekend to visit and my Father had a massive stroke. We were told that day that he was going to die but he lived another 2 years. He was very disabled. He lost the use of his entire right side and was unable to communicate verbally. I recall one weekend driving to my hometown to see him in the hospital. When I walked in the room he was sleeping and I was exhausted. I put my head on the edge of his bed and fell asleep. I woke to my Father gently stroking my head in such a loving and nurturing way and I layer there and cried because it was the first time in a long time (since before I was 14) that I’d felt anything appropriate from him.

    As time went on, it became clear to me and everyone that saw the two of us together….he was compensating big time for the damage he caused prior to his stroke. He cried every time I walked in the room and the only two words he could string together were ” love you” which he said to me countless times in that 2 year period.

    Ironically, when my Father took his last breath, it was just he and I in the hospital room. So strange that this man I’d known to be a monster, was someone I was having such a heart wrenching time letting go of. No one could understand why I even spent time with him or attended his funeral for that matter but it was the lovely man that I’d known for those two years, that Dad that I was saying goodbye to and the grief was overwhelming. I felt ripped off again having only had 2 years with the man who was the Father I’d always wanted.

    It’s taken much time and loads of money on therapy to get to where I am today, as a much stronger and self accepting woman. I do however have absolutely crippling fear still with intimacy. I would appreciate any insight you have. Unfortunately I never had children which is a big regret but I’m 47 now so that ship has sailed.

    It’s just so nice to be able to connect with someone who understands the unique struggles associated with having had these horrible experiences and whatever advice or experiences you could share would be wonderful. Thanks so much for sharing your amazing story and btw, I LOVED your eulogy!!!!!!

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