Exposing the Incest Family Secrets

Nov 19th, 2013 | By | Category: All Posts, Christina's Blog


by Christina Enevoldsen

When I started writing publicly about my healing from sexual abuse, I did it to validate my own history and journey and to inspire hope in other survivors. It’s been wonderfully empowering to record my triumphs and to share the process with thousands of fellow journeyers.

However, being so public about such intimate feelings and experiences has been costly. For the most part, I count it a bargain compared with the expense of silence, but that resolve isn’t always very convenient or comfortable.

One of the recent costs for being so vocal is a lawsuit from my parents. They are suing me for defamation of character and emotional distress. Through their case, they want to shut down OSA and silence my voice.

In the minds of my parents, they are the victims; I am the abuser.

My mother has said of me:

“She has always longed for attention and recognition and the negative recognition is so satisfying to her.”

“I regret to say that we raised her to be self centered and spoiled.”

“She is also without scruples, vicious, extreme and without boundaries or a conscience.”

In the suit, my mother describes several incidents from my life, even from my childhood, to demonstrate how awful I am. It’s clear to me that she believes I’ve been wicked from a very young age and that, though she did her best to instill goodness into me, she was overpowered by the evil in me and by my strong will. She was the victim; I was the abuser.

That’s an accusation I’ve heard internally for a long time. Years ago, when I broke the “no telling” rule, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was guilty. After disclosing my abuse to a roomful of people, I went to bed knowing I’d be punished. And that I deserved it.

A vague but persistent fear loomed over me. Anytime something bad happened to me, I felt shame. From haircuts gone wrong to being laid off at work to being rear ended in my car, I believed it was all the consequences for my badness. Every negative experience was confirmation that I was undeserving of love, pleasure, safety, respect, or comfort.

I believed that my parents deserved protection and that some unstoppable force was on their side so they couldn’t be opposed. They were completely justified in whatever they did to me since I was without any value or rights. There was no “abuse” since you can’t abuse a Nothing.

I believed that my parents deserved protection and that some unstoppable force was on their side so they couldn’t be opposed. They were completely justified in whatever they did to me since I was without any value or rights. There was no “abuse” since you can’t abuse a Nothing.

Though I’d already confronted some of those fears and false beliefs about telling, like most things in the healing process, there have been many layers to this. Another layer started to surface last year.

Before the lawsuit. I’d heard reports of my dad’s deteriorating body and mind. Though I felt sorry for him, his vulnerable position also angered me. My feelings confused me, but as I examined them, I discovered the source: I believed that I had to stop talking about my abuse now that my dad was in a weakened condition. Because my father was no longer physically, emotionally or mentally stronger than me, I feared that I was taking advantage of someone who couldn’t defend himself.

Once again, I felt like I was bad.

One of the most eerie parts of my dad’s sexual abuse was the glassy-eyed expression on his face. It was as though he didn’t even see me. I was just an object to be used, not a human being, not an innocent child, not his only daughter.

I was afraid that I was discounting his personhood in the same way he’d done to me and that it made me abusive. The truth is that telling my story isn’t abusive. Abuse is about powering over someone else. I’m not taking away my dad’s power; I’m claiming my own power. I’m exercising MY right to tell MY story of MY life.

My parents groomed me to accept an identify that made life easier for them–to protect my parents’ feelings and reputation and to be ignorant of my value so I wouldn’t complain or protest.

As I’ve faced the truth about my value and identity, I’ve also recognized more universal truths. I haven’t caused my parents’ emotional distress. My parents’ distress comes from their own failings and pain. To ask me to carry it for them is dysfunctional. To have expected that of me as a child was morally wrong.

If my abusers want to stop their pain, they must begin by acknowledging the truth—maybe not to the whole world, but at least within their own hearts and minds. I know the way they mistreated me wasn’t the beginning of their pain and if they were honest with themselves, they could have the same freedom and healing that I have. I don’t have the power to make them feel bad or good.

I know from my own life that there are two kinds of pain that come from the truth; there is the pain from dodging it and the pain of facing it. Refusing to deal with it leads to more pain. The more I ran from the truth, the more abuse I encountered—from others and from myself.

I know from my own life that there are two kinds of pain that come from the truth; there is the pain from dodging it and the pain of facing it. Refusing to deal with it leads to more pain. The more I ran from the truth, the more abuse I encountered—from others and from myself.

As I’ve faced my pain—the pain from things done to me and the pain I’ve caused others and myself—I’ve moved through it. On the other side of grieving is joy with life affirming decisions and behaviors.

A victim’s silence isn’t good for anyone. Those types of secrets are destructive to everyone who keeps them. TRUTH doesn’t destroy families and it doesn’t even destroy the abuser. For incest to occur in a family, it takes more than just an abuser and a victim. It’s part of an entire dysfunctional system. Exposing abuse gives the entire family an opportunity to heal and to learn more healthy and functional ways to relate to each other.

Unfortunately, when most families are confronted with the truth they don’t choose to heal. Instead, they blame the victim so they can continue in their dysfunctional ways. People don’t want to face their own internal demons so they demonize whoever triggers them.

When the truth is hidden, abuse flourishes. When the truth is revealed and accepted, it has the amazing ability to set people free. The lie is that pain can be avoided in the midst of abuse. But there will be pain. The question is: Will it be the continuing pain of destruction as a result of the lies or the diminishing pain of facing the lies so healing can occur?

Even if the rest of my family would benefit from my speaking out, I’m not doing it for them. I won’t be swayed by their feelings like I was as a child. I’m loyal to the truth and I’ll honor the truth with my life. I’ll continue to speak out for the little girl I used to be and for all the innocent children who were abused and are still being abused. All of us deserve a voice.

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:
I Blamed Myself Since I Didn’t Tell
How Do I Disclose My Abuse?
Why Do I Need to Tell?
Why I Talk About My Childhood Abuse Over and Over
Male Childhood Sexual Abuse: Suffering in Silence

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 new life and freedom. She and her husband live in Scottsdale, Arizona and share three children and six grandchildren.

[read Christina's story here]

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  1. Hi Christina
    This is a very powerful article! The sentence that jumped out at me so much that I wrote down on the note pad beside my computer was this one:

    “Abuse is about powering over someone else. I’m not taking away my dad’s power; I’m claiming my own power. I’m exercising MY right to tell MY story of MY life.”

    Wow. Abusers presenting as the victim is such a huge part of the dysfunctional family system. That sentence jumped out at me because it sheds light on a different way of seeing the motive of the abusive or controlling person in the equation. I know that the abusive person sees standing up for ourselves as trying to power over them ~ that is the pecking order family system that they believe in and that is the dysfunctional way that they see “respect” ~ That is their ‘entitlement’ and their “rights as parents” and how dare you (or we) put a crack in their fragile existence and understanding of “the truth”, but realizing through that quote, that it’s as though they believe that the truth is actually disrespectful to them and that respect and compliance and agreement with them that WE are less valuable than they are ~ TRUMPS the truth. They believe that when their entitlement as parents is challenged, that they are being victimized! They believe this so much that they will even SUE a child that they sexually abused and list all sorts of stories to back up their claims and to “prove” that they are the actual victims, and not the abused child. It’s so pathetic ~ they are so pathetic.
    This is a great article! What a great way to start the day! So glad that you are sharing YOUR story about YOUR life and YOUR rights and THE truth and that you are an empowering voice for so many!
    Hugs and love, Darlene

  2. I’m sorry to hear that you are being sued. As you expressed, that has got to hurt on so many levels. I hope/pray it empowers others to acknowledge their own truths. I pray/hope for peace for you too.

    <3 <3 Lori

  3. A lawsuit… you have to be kidding me. Who does your mother think she is? I mean, I know what I think she is, LOL, but it wouldn’t be ladylike of me to repeat those thoughts here.

    An attorney I talked to years ago when my birth family threatened to sue me said most of these cases get thrown out. Judges feel it’s “he said, she said” and unless someone’s lost a job, suffered serious financial problems, been denied housing, etc., based on what’s been said about them, then there’s nothing to really compensate – and that’s even if the complainant declares emotional distress. I get the feeling whatever lawyers they talked to probably told them the same thing because they never pursued it.

    I’m hoping and praying that will be the case here with you. You have the right to speak your truth. That she’s trying to use legal means to silence you does NOT alter the truth, it only reflects her desire to suppress it and it only reflects what a vindictive woman she is. Even if she wins the suit and you have to close this site, it still will NOT change the truth.

    I also understand re: your father. Mine got a cancer diagnosis a few years ago. It is treatable, but, eventually fatal, depending on when it will mutate into something more aggressive.

    When I found out, I started wondering if we could resume a relationship. Part of me hoped his diagnosis would prompt him to think long and hard about his life and if not having me in it was worth it. Yeah, unrealistic, but sometimes hope’s not about realism I guess.

    I got my answer and basically, we still don’t have a relationship (in retrospect, can’t say I’m surprised – hurt but not surprised). I had to grieve that, and in the process was able to see that I still had the right to speak out about how he “raised” me without shame.

    I am glad you realize the same is true for you.

  4. Dear Christina,
    Thank you for sharing your stories–then and now. We heal from our stories and we help others heal when we tell our stories. I pray for a hedge around you both emotionally and legally by God to protect you from your abusers. Jesus said the truth sets us free and he says those who lie are of their father the devil. Those who wish to bring charges to you for telling the truth have nothing to stand on. I am sorry they are still trying to silence you. I understand your emotions as you describe worrying about something bad happening to you–I used to think God would punish me with a car accident for disobeying my parents rules of silence too. I think you are dealing with narcissistic parents and they want to have ultimate control but God did not give you to them for them to abuse and He is on your side. Peace dear friend! God sees! God will support you and establish you by His righteous (righteous means right doing) right hand. His promise is for you and all of us who accept it.

    I, like Darlene, love this statement and I wish to claim it as my own.
    “Abuse is about powering over someone else. I’m not taking away my dad’s power; I’m claiming my own power. I’m exercising MY right to tell MY story of MY life.”

    Bravo!

  5. This sentence really jumped out at me :My parents groomed me to accept an identify that made life easier for them–to protect my parents’ feelings and reputation and to be ignorant of my value so I wouldn’t complain or protest. Only it was my mother not my father. The reputation was first and foremost in our screwed up family. We always had to act the part my mother insisted I play no matter what the consequences were for me. It didn’t matter to her that she made me look like some sort of deranged creature that she “couldn’t possibly figure out what caused me to act the way I did” as she said to any and all who would listen. What mattered was that her images she made of smoke and mirrors was never discovered. She was kind of like the Great and Powerful Oz…just a pathetic sham with no morals. But boy could she play the victim. As she has continued to do all of her life. I finally came out to a cousin recently that I am no contact with my mother and the reasons why (tho I do not feel that they need to know about the sexual abuse from her boyfriend) and after I told her I felt guilty!!! Like I had done something wrong!! Boy do these people have us programmed. I thank you for sharing your stories. You have given me so much power and made me feel that some how, some way I am going to be ok. Most of all you let us know we are not alone. And that is very empowering.

  6. Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this. I had a conversation with my sisters last week where they called me selfish and vindictive and said I needed to get over my god complex. Why? Because I pressed charges against my uncle for sexually abusing and raping me when I found out he was teaching at a school.

    They allow my uncle into their lives, my aunt stayed married to him. I was ostracized as soon as I tried to go against my mom. And it hurts unbelievably, but the cost of having a relationship with them is too high. I had hoped as my sisters grew older they would start seeing some of the lies, but they have completely bought into the family lie.

  7. One of the most satisfying feelings I have as a husband is seeing Christina find her voice and speak out. Which means that posts like this one please me immensely. I delight in the fact that she tells her story with confidence and without malice. I’ve seen firsthand what it costs her in terms of the criticism from her family and many former friends, but the life and growth that have resulted are so great that the cost seems insignificant by comparison. As I read this, I know that she is telling her story. It is no longer her father’s story, as much as her parents have wanted to make it exclusively theirs and twist it to fit their own agenda. I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes from Anne Lamott: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.”

  8. When I started trying to deal with my demons of eating disorder and addiction about two years ago, and mentioned to my mother that I was doing some counseling to that effect, she tried to be helpful by telling me what my problems were. According to her, she had always thought my life would be difficult because of how self-centered I’ve always been. She had several stories from childhood, teenage years, and right up to the present (age 38) to illustrate that belief. She had always worried that I’d have trouble handling adulthood because of my short temper and how quick I am to anger. She had several stories to illustrate that belief, too. She said she had always tried to help me, but I never wanted her advice and insisted on doing things my own way, so what could she do but watch me fail over and over. She would have liked to intervene, or helped me though some of my very, very dark times, but I’m so stubborn and angry that she didn’t want to put up with that emotional abuse from me. Emotional abuse from ME. That’s honestly how she sees it. A lifetime of HER being selfish, manipulative, emotionally cruel, and controlling, and SHE’s the victim. I guess it all goes along with how she is never, ever able to be wrong. That has no limits with her. Thanks for your posts – even though I was not sexually abused, I find so many parallels with your story. Thank you so much for your courage in sharing this.

  9. I am honored to stand with you Christina as you speak your truth. I am a survivor of ten years of sexual abuse at the hand of my preacher father. My father was threatening to sue me until I was contacted by law enforcement and told about another victim who had already come forward. Every word you wrote hit home for me – I have been there and know the conflicting emotions you are feeling. Please don’t let fear grip your heart and silence you. This will all work out for good – you are on the side of truth and the truth will prevail. Stay strong and stay loud!

  10. Well said Christina- standing with you in this. I’m so glad you have such a great circle of support around you- including your husband. Stand tall and keep being the light for those still in darkness,

  11. Darlene,
    YES!!! Abusers don’t care about the true TRUTH. The are gods of their own world and the truth they care about is their own “truth” that fuels the abusive system. Anything outside of that is a violation and they are justified in doing ANYTHING to preserve their life in that world.

    Thinking about it that way, I’m amazed that any of us get out of it after being so indoctrinated into that world.

    I’m excited about your new blog post that explains more of your thoughts about this. When you get it posted, I’ll include the link here too.

    I’m SO thankful for your insights and for your friendship. Recovering from all this crap wouldn’t be half as much fun without you!!!

    Love and hugs,
    Christina

  12. Lori,
    Yes, it’s been a painful thing to face. It’s been a roller coaster ride of pain and anger and fear. Thanks for your prayers!

    Hugs,
    Christina

  13. PS,
    I SO agree that no matter what happens after the abuse, we still have a right to tell our story. Even if the abuser is remorseful; even if the abuser turns into a loving person; even if the abuser builds wells in impoverished countries; even if the abuser is incapacitated; even if the abuser dies, even if we restore a relationship with the abuser; we STILL have a right to tell our story. Thanks for sharing your experience!
    Christina

  14. Thank you so much for your prayer, Cherilyn!

  15. Dear Christina,

    I too am being sued by my Mother & Father. My suit is over a home we co- own, but the real issue is because of the secret I didn’t tell for over 40 years. Their oldest son molested me at the age of 5 he was 16. They my parents have not seen or spoken to their son in close to 30 years. He( my abuser) also was sexual abused by an Uncle brother of my mother. Long line of incest. I too will not be silent anymore. When the truth came out during a bout of depression with me, they told me to put it away, and I did until I told my therapist, then my husband, after months of Depression and Anxiety. We have a two family house, that they moved out because I wasnt speaking to them, they have adbandoned their responisble for half the home. I could go on and on… My husband and I, went for deposition two months ago, now we wait for trial. They wanted to silence me, because of money, not going to happen. As I was reading your post, I stop mid way through. I needed to write you. We need to let a voice be HEARD for all who can’t speak. I will never stop… They My Former Mother & Father brought up in the suit, that I have mental Illness. I have never felt better in my life- no more Anger. Im Free….Take care Joanne

  16. Christina, I am so glad to see you have a husband who stands by you! A good man is hard to find and I am lucky in this way as well. He has been a firm support for me. I think we who have been abused need to find new family who are honest and authentic like us. Stand strong!

  17. Its crazy to think that they would want even more attention brought to themselves but I also have learned its always about them, their feelings. It’s an illness that can run in families and when someone speaks up and out they try to create the “appearance” that they did no wrong. They will be able to excuse the outcome of this lawsuit be it good for them or bad for them. One more way to make it look like you are the difficult one. Glad you are hanging in there and still have a public voice.

    Love what you say here… “As I’ve faced the truth about my value and identity, I’ve also recognized more universal truths. I haven’t caused my parents’ emotional distress. My parents’ distress comes from their own failings and pain. To ask me to carry it for them is dysfunctional. To have expected that of me as a child was morally wrong.”

    Remember that no matter how hard things get going forward. Thank you for having a voice.

  18. Pamela,
    I’m so glad you know you’re not alone. Isn’t it amazing how, when survivors compare stories, there is SO much similarity? It makes me think that if we all got together and really saw the truth and worked it out in our own lives, we could really make some astounding changes in the world.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Christina

  19. Axi,
    That’s so awesome that you pressed charges against your uncle! My daughter and I ran into the same kind of reaction from my family when we reported my ex-husband for sexually abusing her. My mom called my daughter “wicked” and my dad tried to bribe her not to testify claiming that she wasn’t perfect and implied that she deserved the sexual abuse since she was “shacking up with a guy”. How much sense does THAT make that she deserved the childhood abuse because of something she did as an adult??? But abusive systems have their rules of conduct and one of the main ones is silence. Yay for you for breaking the rules!!!!

    Christina

  20. AWESOME Don,
    I LOVE that quote so thanks for sharing it! I’m so happy to be sharing this journey together. It really delights me to have such a fantastic partner in this adventure of opposing abuse. Thanks for being so instrumental in helping me find my voice and for cheering me on, no matter the cost to you. Have I told you how awesome you are lately?
    Love,
    Christina

  21. Kris,
    Wow! Your mother’s tone sounds so much like my mother while she was still pretending to care. Such condescending poison under the guise of being helpful. It makes me want to vomit! I used to really buy into what my mom said so it was crushing to hear those kind of things when I was vulnerable and really wanted her comfort and reassurance. It was really miserable being her daughter. I’m so glad to see the truth and I’m so glad you see the truth about your mom. Thanks for sharing that!
    Christina

  22. Linda,
    Thanks for the encouragement! I’m so glad you’re using your voice to speak the truth too. Thanks for your comment!
    Christina

  23. Maribeth,
    Thanks for standing with me. I’m so glad that I have such a great circle of support around me too!
    Hugs,
    Christina

  24. Joanne,
    I’m sorry that you’re in the same boat. It’s really tough, isn’t it? That’s so great that in spite of the consequences, you’re continuing to let your voice be heard. It’s so validating and empowering to finally speak the truth. I rejoice with you in your freedom!
    Christina

  25. Cherilyn, I agree! I’m glad that you have such a firm support too!

  26. Penny,
    Yes, it’s ALWAYS about them. It amazes me how they can twist things around like that. I’m glad we’re not twisted up in the abuser’s lies anymore!

    Thanks for sharing,
    Christina

  27. Great points Christina. My mother also wanted me to feel guilty–she would put on shows about how my telling even the slightest bit of my truth was so overwhelming and painful for her, that I was destroying her. But that isn’t the case, not at all. Beyond being one of her abusive tactics (she would also pretend to cry, and then laugh about how she had fooled everyone later on), I know that she can only destroy herself, that anything she does in response to my speaking out today is still about her and her history, her dysfunction. My telling my story is about me. And I think it’s insane that your mother makes this whole site about her–and when you help so many people I can’t see how OSA is a “malicous, negative, and self-centered” effort. I trust she will lose her suit, as she sounds delusional and I’m sure there are not legal definitions for most of what she accuses you of.

    I know what you mean about the glassy-eyed look; it was almost as if there was an invisible cloak over my mother’s face when she abused me, she just stared downward blankly as she took what she wanted, not hearing or seeing me at all. But she was still there, and no amount of denial or “nervous breakdowns” she blamed on my letters can diminish her responsibility for what she did.

  28. Christina,
    I don’t know if you received my previous comment but I want to thank you for being so brave. You have inspired me for a long time. I was considered the bad guy by my family when I disclosed the abuse. Even by others who had also been abused. It was a taboo subject. Well you have played a role in inspiring me to start my own blog about my experiences. Thank you for this website and for sharing it.

    Stanley

  29. TRUTH, girlfriend! This powerful truth couldn’t come at a better time. As we set our table for Thanksgiving, I give thanks to be away from my brother, who was my abuser. I give thanks to be away from my narcissistic, enabling mother. I give thanks to not sit with my father, an emotional cripple who abused his little sister. And I give thanks to be away from the whole, stinking extended family, who live in denial. They sit at the table, over an exact spot where I was sodomized and raped as a child. They EAT there. It makes me sick. I give Thanks to be away from them.

    And I give thanks to you, for your courage and strength!

    Julie
    soulsnatching.wordpress.com

  30. “I’m exercising MY right to tell MY story of MY life.”

    Exactly! I say that one of the people who abused me has the right to talk about his house burning down, the other one has the right to talk about his bad back, their brother has the right to talk about his near-fatal car accident all he wants, I have the right to say and talk about the fact that I was sexually abused. I’ve been indirectly threatened, as has my dad (their uncle). I’ve been called all kinds of things and have been accused of ripping apart our family when, in fact, the abusers did that 35 years ago. My mother wanted me to keep it quiet because the abusers “could go to jail for that.”

    You have every right to say what happened to you. It’s so, so sad your parents have chosen this path. Just know you have an army of survivors sending you good thoughts and wishes and/or praying for you.

    You are a brave, brave woman. I applaud your courage and I wish you well!!

  31. Thank you for using the truth. I too have been manipulated to think my mother & step father are victims & at the expense of my own value system. I have forgiven them both & I have tried to repair the family dynamics so to speak by allowing them to be apart of my life. This week I have broken all contact with them. I can’t pretend anymore. I’m no longer able to tolerate the critical remarks or total disregard for the gift of forgiveness they have received. I am free to find my true value now. I am grieving the loss of my so called family but I know that I must put myself first.

  32. Caden,
    Thanks for your encouragement and support. You’re so right about there not being any legal definitions for most of what she accuses me of. That’s just abuser tactics–if I’m all bad then she’s all good. If I’m all wrong then she’s all right. The truth is that nobody has a right to abuse anyone else–right, wrong, good, or bad. But those caught up in the system still can’t imagine any equality–only “I have to power over you before you power over me.”

    I’m sorry that you experienced your mom’s disconnection from you too. That glassy-eyed expression is awful!

    Hugs,
    Christina

  33. Stanley,
    I didn’t get your previous comment, but I did get your email inviting me to check out your blog. I haven’t yet, but I will. It’s so great that you’re sharing your own experiences there. Congratulations!

    Christina

  34. Julie,
    Yes, I’m thankful for very much the same things. I so thankful that I now know that I have a choice in who my family is and that I have equal say in my relationships. Thanks for sharing!

    Christina

  35. Edee,
    That’s SO true about the abusers being the ones who ripped apart the family–not the victims! Thanks for your warm wishes and encouragement. I appreciate my fellow survivors who are not just standing with me but standing up for themselves in their own lives. That’s so powerful!

    Christina

  36. Angele,
    That’s awesome that you’re standing up for yourself and recognizing your true value. I know how empowering AND painful that is. I hope you continue to share your journey with us.
    Christina

  37. Hi Christina,

    the subject of this blog is something I think about often, the consequences for speaking out. I am almost certain that my abusers would seek to sue me for defamation of character if and when I decide to go public. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you and this site. I am sorry that your family is suing you, but I really look at you as gentle and strong and that you have the power and the voice to set a clear path through the chaos your mother is throwing at you. Best of all I listen to you and think if you can do it, so can I. I am most encouraged by your trail blazing, especially in a society that does not want to look at the messy truth of family incest.

    I wish you the best, and hope very much that your mothers law suit comes to nothing more than words, words are wind. I also hope that you are able to continue this site and blogging. This is has been one of the best resources in my life, and the most honest especially concerning parent relationships and religion.

  38. Christina

    This is incredibly powerful writing. Your parents are again trying to control you with a (hopeless) legal suit. What you said about the reversal of victim and abuser really struck a chord – Dr Jennifer Freyd uses the term DARVO (Deny – Attack – Reverse – Victim & Offender). I’m sure you recognize her name – she’s also an incest survivor and her parents setup the false memory syndrome foundation to try to classify victims of sexual abuse with delayed memories as somehow “mentally ill victims of therapists” or something like that. As child her parents also referred to her as “brain damaged”. Thankfully that organization is pretty much gone and Dr Freyd is now an internationally known researcher and publishes a great deal of work on trauma and dissociation.

    Going back to abusive families and incest – much of Dr Freyd’s family disowned her parents after her Dad’s incest of her was publicly revealed. and it was also revealed that her parents are in fact step-brother and step-sister, and grew up in the same house together. It seems the cycle of incest is a familiar dynamic in many abusive families.

    thank you for your courage in continuing to speak out, and to refuse to be silenced.

  39. Thank you so much. I recently wrote a blog about my life and shut it down after my entire family disowned me. My mother falsified charges against me, had me arrested, and my daughter was put in foster care… I hear you. I am past the rage, and my daughter is with me again. I was struggling with the pain I had caused by speaking out… I drove 6 hours to see my younger sister who jumped on me, choked me and said she would kill me. She told me “I don’t want to hear from you again, ever!” She was in the next bed, when my 21 year old stepfather–mom was 42, and I was only 15–came crawling naked into my room. I have been demonized as well. My mom is now seeking contact with my daughter… it is a mess.

    I was molested by a neighbor as well—he was 50… I was told it was my fault. I wasted much of my life addicted to drugs and running away every time I felt trapped. I wanted to believe that it was my fault–then I could tell myself that my parents loved me and had my best interests at heart. God Bless You and thank you for sharing your story.

  40. Hi, I’ve just found your website & read your story… I’m sitting here nodding & KNOWING & understanding because you described my family. You described the position I’ve been given in my family too. I’ve never understood why my family was so screwed up & why only I could see it but I’m beginning to get it. I’ve been in therapy for years, working through the layers of a bad, failed marriage, through the religious cult I was brought up in, through the ongoing animosity (that’s a mild term!) that my very existence has always stirred up in family members, particularly my father & brother.
    But for quite a while now the spectre of childhood sexual abuse has been haunting me… But I have no memories. Repeatedly I come up against the suggestion that I present as someone who was sexually abused but I didn’t want to go there. There was so much emotional abuse & occasional physical abuse & neglect that I felt there were already enough reasons for my problems.
    But this won’t go away. So I’ve started researching childhood sexual abuse & what I’m finding resonates deep within me. I feel understood for the first time ever. I UNDERSTAND at last. It all makes sense.
    But I have no memories, just a growing feeling of inevitability. My father died 2 years ago & that was a great release, as I always knew it would be. I knew I’d never be free as long as he was alive.
    But still no memories.
    So where do I go from here? No way I can talk to my family… They are pretty bad but I feel I’ve been forewarned by reading of other family reactions here just how bad it can get. I’m stunned that so many of you have been sued, or the attempt to sue has been made by your families. But I totally get it because you’re all describing the dynamics in my family.
    I’m still trying to get my head round all this but what keeps me going is the search for the TRUTH so I can heal, move forward & salvage whatever is left of my life. So much has been stolen from me & I’m only just beginning to understand why. Thank you SO much for your bravery in speaking out & leading the way for the rest of us.

  41. I admire your courage and honesty. I feel like one of the major obstacles for me in healing from a sexually and emotionally abusive relationship and also a very abusive friendship has been the fear of the ex-boyfriend and the ex-friend finding out — I’m a creative person; I draw, paint, write fiction and poetry, and I would really, *really* like to somehow “exorcise” these problems by being able to write about them honestly. However, there’s this constant fear that, if anything I make ever goes public, the ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend will find out and contact me in anger. Where that leaves me, is feeling muzzled, like I’ll never be allowed to fully integrate those experiences with the rest of my life; like I can’t talk about them. Even when I try to sit down and write poems “just for me,” I have that inner censor looking over my shoulder, whispering how they would say I’m exaggerating, it wasn’t like that, I don’t have any basis for feeling the way I do, they were never that mean, how could I hurt them this way, and so on. And it doesn’t feel good, to tell myself I have to keep it hidden, keep it in. I *want* to share my art and poetry with people; I want that conversation. To help others, yes, but also because I really need some kind of positive response… I don’t know what I’m craving, maybe just belief that yes, it did happen.

    Still. If one day I write a book and talk about the abuse, even with the people remaining anonymous, I’m afraid that, for example, the ex-boyfriend will someday look up my name, see what I’m up to, realize I’m talking about him, and contact me to take it up with me. I don’t want that to happen. And I still feel like maybe I couldn’t defend my point of view, and maybe it DID happen however he thinks it did.

  42. Dear Christina

    I am an abuse survivor, as are many others who have posted here. My mother and her siblings were raped by their father, although the siblings deny it. (I have gathered mountains of evidence to prove it) After my mom revealed the disgusting secret, her family called her crazy and she ended up in a mental institution for a year or so. Sadly she passed away five years later, doctors called it leukemia, I call it death by familial toxicity. Anyway, all of this is going into a book that I am writing. Its the hardest work of my life. I know without a doubt that I am about to make enemies out of people I have known and loved my entire life. But so be it. The truth WILL set me free and restore my moms reputation. She was a loving and caring, bright, beautiful woman. But so very damaged. I will make sure that her suffering was not in vain. Thank you for posting your story. You have reached me all the way in South Africa, at a crucial moment in my own process. Thank you most sincerely. May you be blessed and sustained during your own healing.

  43. A powerful and courageous article. Your story will help a great many others. Thank you for sharing it.

    A.

  44. Hi Christina,

    I am really glad to see this post – as I know from my own experience how many layers there are to breaking the silence and fear around continuing to speak in the face of persecution and threats. For me there has been a starting and stopping process every time I spoke out and then immediately there were consequences as you’ve shared here – and I had to step back and take time to consider whether my efforts were worth it for me. Not every survivor makes the choice to be a public advocate through sharing their experience candidly and it wouldn’t be right for everyone. But I think the beacon of hope, love and recovery OSA has provided for probably thousands (or more) of people speaks for itself and I am happy that you are taking care of yourself first, but also continuing to share here when it feels right and appropriate.

    I particularly relate to:

    “My parents groomed me to accept an identify that made life easier for them–to protect my parents’ feelings and reputation and to be ignorant of my value so I wouldn’t complain or protest.”

    I come from a family where image and position in the community is far more important than any one individuals feelings… and growing up in that environment was suffocating to say the least. I still wrestle with feelings of guilt for even thinking that they did anything wrong. And then speaking out about it in the ways I have, there have been weeks at a time where I have been horrified with myself for breaking the family silence and exposing the secrets.

    In the end I realize every action has an impact – we can call it a consequence… and I have to decide what kind of impact I want to have. And what types of consequences I am okay living with, and which ones I am not. That is part of radical self care and I’m glad to see we are both learning more about that every day.

    Love & Gratitude,

    Kylie

  45. Christina I am so proud of you for continuing on in your blog!!!!! I’m sorry for your parents reaction and don’t doubt that mine would do the same.

    GPC, I can relate to the not having memories. I think more will revealed as I progress in my healing as I’m ready to handle that kind of information.

  46. Kylie,
    I love that you validate that it’s important to decide for yourself how far to go in disclosing your abuse–especially how publicly to share it. Abuse is all about destruction of boundaries and about being overpowered so it trains survivors to serve others’ interests above their own out of an ignorance of their own self worth. Self care is SO foreign to most survivors and it’s often difficult to discern whether disclosing abuse is validating or if it’s just another way of giving one more piece of themselves away.

    There’s often a lot of pressure within the survivor community to share and disclose. Sometimes, it even comes across as obligation out of a desire to spread awareness. While it’s wonderful to spread awareness, it’s abusive to try to place that purpose or calling onto anyone else. So thank you so much for highlighting that because it’s not something that is communicated very often in our circles.

    Love & Hugs,
    Christina

  47. A.C.
    Yes, I can relate to wanting to express the truth but fearing the consequences of that. For me, it’s been years of processing all of that. I’ve had a lot of time to face the fear and I’ve only stepped out one baby step at a time. The small steps have usually meant small consequences, though they sure didn’t seem small at the time. I hope you’re gentle with yourself as you figure out what’s right for you.

    Christina

  48. Tracey K,
    Thank you for your encouragement. I’m glad this came along for you at a crucial moment. I wish you the best as you complete your book and for the rest of your journey!

    Christina

  49. GCP,
    I can relate to the frustration of not being able to remember. As I started to address my own healing from sexual abuse, I found that I actually DID remember some of it, though I didn’t define those things as sexual abuse or even abusive since they seemed “normal” to me. One of the resources that has helped me to put the puzzle pieces together for me is, “Repressed Memories” by Renee Fredrickson Ph.D. I highly recommend it!

    Christina

  50. Laurie,
    Thank you for sharing your story. My heart goes out to you. What a nightmare! I hope you and your daughter are healing and finding loving relationships now.

    Christina

  51. DID is real,
    Yes, I’m familiar with Dr. Jennifer Freyd and deeply appreciate her work. Thanks for sharing DARVO. I hadn’t heard of that term, but that describes it very well.

    “False Memory Syndrome” is still widely believed, even by well-meaning people and Jennifer’s work continues to be very important, both in validating sexual abuse survivors and in educating those who work in healing trauma. It’s amazing and inspiring to think of the obstacles that she’s had to plow through! Thank you for the reminder of her story. :)

    Christina

  52. Holly,
    Thank you so much for your affirming and encouraging words! I’m so glad that OSA is such a valuable resource for you. I wish you the best if you decide to go public with your abuse! :)

    Christina

  53. Dear Christina:
    Reading your article was like looking at my life in a mirror! Abusive parents pretend to be perfect parents, they spend their life manipulating their victims. When they were both in their late eighties my father fell on his head and suffered brain damage. They called me and ask for help, part of me was afraid to help but the daughter in me decided I had no choice, I accepted my responsibility . I made a terrible mistake, and had no idea my mentally challenged brother was manipulating, and instilling fear in them. He was also sexually, physically and emotionally abused, and accused me of stealing from them. They pressed charges against me,and needless to say I was all most destroyed . The only way I could begin to heal, was to write a book about my horrible life.

  54. That was truly inspiring. I’m exercising MY right to tell MY story of MY life. I hope all goes well with standing tall against your parents continued oversight of you and their abusive lawsuit. I applaud you in your bravery and the strength in your story truly speaks truth. God Bless Mary Rose Kamken <3

  55. Dear Christina

    This past week I wrote a letter to my mother addressing the physical and sexual abuse my father bestowed on me. It took so many years to even get to this point, it was difficult to speak out in my early years mostly because of shame and I thought no one would believe me. We were raised Jehovah’s Witnesses and those types of things didn’t happen at least no one knew about them. My parents were praised for being well to and great parents, while we were looked particularly me as the rebellious one who turned away from God. My mother stood by and watched the abuse happen, the sexual abuse I am not so sure she had direct knowledge of however, she was a Social Worker so all the signs were there and I feel she purposely turned a blind eye. Well, now she is up in age and has been in denial for so many years that she still has others fooled into thinking something is wrong with her mentally. They believe she has the beginning stages of Dementia, I am not so sure about that. My mother can tell me stories in detail about things that happened when I was as young as 3 years old, but can’t remember the horrendous conditions we lived in. I am angry that she gets a pass, my father died years ago and when he died I felt a little free. I decided to write my mother a letter this week to jog her memory, my brother is going to give it to her because I do not know where she is living, however she does call me a couple times a month acting like we are the best of friends. It’s pure madness, I don’t know how she will respond to the letter and I was even questioning why I keep talking about it and that’s how I found your website. It feels good to know I am not alone, it has been very lonely holding this in for all these years. Thank you for the encouragement to move forward…

    Peace and Blessings

    J’nai Butler- Curbeam

  56. Hi Christina, it is so true that manipulators and abusers have a way of turning everything on to their victims. They are so callous and I don’t think they have a moral conscience. For example, my biological un-father makes vicious comments about me behind my back to all relatives and says that I am selfish. He spreads so much vitriol about me when he is the one who is a pathetic example of a man. He is such a sore loser that he cannot bear to see me do well. He always undermines me behind my back but acts “nice” to my face.

    Reading the htings your mother said about you made me realise it’s the same with me. Somehow they are the idealistic people and we aren’t. I feel like slapping them but I know I do not have the strength because they emotionally manipulate me.

  57. Welcome Christina :)

    And thank you, I actually decided to confront my abuser and let a couple of the immediate family know! Scared to death but also glad to be free!

    OSA has been wonderful :)

  58. never a day in my life goes by where I don’t think about what happened

    I was 15 when it all came out, I was a good kid I went to school I did what I was told I obeyed, my parents would always brag to everyone how I was the better kid, the one that they never had trouble with I was there youngest and the angel. my parents worked as caregivers for abused children, we had vulnerable kids and babies in my house all the time and tons of social workers. I TRYED to protect them, I TRYED to protect my cousin, I TRYED to protect myself.I never would let him be alone with them even when he got angry at me but eventually I would have to go, I had to go to school and sometimes they were so young they weren’t at school yet and had to stay home with him while my mother went to her other job. Those days killed me with guilt I couldn’t wait to get home to make sure they were ok.

    it came out when I told a friend who then told the school councillor, I was taken to live in another part of the country with my aunty, my mother and my older sister joined me two weeks later, I didn’t know what to do everyone tip toed around me until one night I overheard my sister (who also had been abused but completely denied it) talking to my cousins telling them I was a liar because I wont look my mother in the eyes.
    I was broken my worst fears had come true and no one believed me, not my sister not my brother my cousins my aunties and uncles or my mother and I was trapped on a farm with a bunch of people who didn’t want me there, conversations stopped as soon as I walked in the room, my once kind hearted beautiful aunty turned cold and spoke to me like I was a piece of shit. my mother said to me one night “I was a abused as a child and I didn’t tell anyone” <=== what??? she basically was saying I should have just kept my mouth shut.

    SO I called my social worker (by this stage I was in the partial care of the same people my parents once worked for) I told them I wanted to go home to my town back to my school and I didn't want to be there, then I told my mum I was leaving she looked at me and said "well if your going back there im going to go be with your father" so that's what she did.

    I took him to court much to my families disapproval and so did my cousin he was younger than me, he lived with us for a while and me and him were close even though I hadn't seen him for years I told the police he had been abused too and when they went to his town and asked him he backed me and said what I had said was true.
    BUT the justice system was flawed from the beginning, to give my father a "fair" trial mine and my cousins cases were separated and we had a different judge and a different jury each, we were told we weren't allowed to mention each other in our trials and if we did they would throw it out of court, my family and my fathers friends all stood up on his behalf and made him out to be this harmless kind man who would NEVER do such a thing, and I was made to look like a spoilt little brat that wanted attention and to be like the kids we looked after, my character witnesses were never called and no one vouched for me, again no one helped me . my trial got re-trailed and I had to do it twice, my cousin lost his case and in the end so did I and he walked free.

    I am 23 now I struggle with trust, anger and anxiety I know I should get help but I don't know how, this is me trying, putting ALL this on here. I have a 3 year old son and I am expecting a daughter in 7 weeks time I am engaged I have my own home and my life has done a complete 180 of what it was, I have blocked my family from my life they will never EVER meet or see my children and I will do everything in my power to protect them, they will never feel what I had to feel.

  59. Jessie,
    Thank you for sharing your story. What a horrible experience after you broke your silence! I’m sorry that happened to you.

    I’ve found healing for myself and I know you can too. My process is documented through my blog posts if you’re interested in learning the process that worked for me.

    Christina

  60. I am going though a very similar situation with my own parents right now. I’m 32 years old and still dealing with the pain of abuse by my father and sister. I am now raising my 16 year old sister and my 20 year old sister who was raped by my brother was also cared for by my husband and I for about a year. My brother is serving time in prison and my parents blame myself and my sister’s for everything. Thanks for your ministry to others dealing with painful situations like yours. God bless you!

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