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.
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?”
by Caden Ceirdris
When I was twelve, I watched the sexually graphic teen film, “Kids” with my siblings. I remember being surprised when my sister described what happened in the end scene as rape. That it was rape to have sex with someone who was passed out, asleep.
It seems obvious, but in some unconscious part of my mind, I winced. What had been done to me might have been wrong too. Perhaps I also deserved boundaries, both legal and personal over my own body, at least equal to what my sister was willing to give a fictional girl. Yet there was no one in my life at that point who would have even suggested that, let alone validated my experience; I was trained to passively accept whatever my family did to me, and was condescended to when it came to my emotions.
My lifetime of abuse gave me the feeling of being the constant target of a nameless, faceless bully. Unable to conceal my terror or prevent whimpers from escaping, every sign of protest fed his lust for more suffering. He was never satisfied; the more he saw the pain he inflicted, the greater his appetite for more.
My hope for relief seemed to be in pretending I didn’t notice. I desperately wanted to be someone who could say, “Is that all you got?”
I couldn’t have conceived of chasing off my attacker or of defending myself. The only thing I could imagine was coping better by developing tougher skin.
It’s not a mystery to me where I learned to cope. While I was growing up being sexually abused by my dad and emotionally abused by both my parents, I had no voice, no impact. There was no escape from the bullies in my own home and it was unthinkable for my child self to say, “Mom and Dad, the way you treat me really hurts me and I deserve to be valued and respected. If you don’t change, I’m moving out on my own.”
by Christina Enevoldsen with Bethany
If only I’d have known these family holiday survival tips years ago. When I remember holidays with my family, I think of stress. The image that comes to mind is everyone else laughing and having a great time, while I was miserable. I don’t remember many holidays as a child, but as an adult, holidays used to be times of emotional abuse from my parents, mostly my dad, and from my ex-husband.
While we were married, the usual pattern for my ex was to work up my emotions right before we arrived at my parents’ house. He’d feign a misunderstanding or falsely accuse me of something or criticize me–whatever would upset me. By the time we arrived, I’d be on the verge of tears or I’d be angry. Then my parents would correct my bad attitude and all three of them would join against me for ruining the special day.
I didn’t actually plan to confront my dad. I didn’t think it would do me any good.
I wrote this several years ago:
“My dad has displayed his selfishness for as long as I’ve known him. I’m not under some delusion that he’ll suddenly develop a conscience and confess how he hurt me. He covered up the abuse when it happened without regard for how that would hurt me. He’s still doing that now. Holding out hope for some kind of healthy, compassionate response from him would keep me under his control and I’ve spent too many years there. I’ve moved on without involving him. He’s the one who would have destroyed me; he’s not the one to repair me.”
Before my phone discussion with my dad, I hadn’t talked with him in four years. I hadn’t expected to ever talk with him again. I’d been healing just fine without him and since my dad and mom walked away from me before specific memories of the sexual abuse surfaced, I didn’t think I’d have the opportunity to stand up to him anyway.
by Patty Hite
Everything I did was for my husband. Any ideas or suggestions on my part would end in Bill physically or emotionally abusing me. I always felt my life depended on making a perfect meal. When he didn’t like it, he would knock me out of my chair and force me to eat “that crap” off the floor. There was never a choice in how I wanted to style my hair. My choice gave him the excuse to take the scissors to my hair and cut it the way he wanted. Choosing my own eye shadow was disastrous. Bill rubbed it all over my face and forced me to wear it out in public.
I was never allowed to go to the doctor by myself (he had to be able to give false reasons for my bruises and scars) and especially when I was pregnant. While the doctor was giving me a pelvic exam, Bill would watch my face and make sure I wasn’t enjoying it.
by Christina Enevoldsen When I discovered that my husband was sexually abusing my daughter, I went to what I thought was the highest authority—our pastor. In our church, if something wasn’t Christian, it wasn’t to be trusted. Secular authorities likeRead more
by Patty Hite
When I started on my healing journey, I wanted someone to just give me the answers, show me the way and tell me what to do. I wanted to be taken care of because I didn’t have the confidence to take care of myself.
There wasn’t anyone to talk to or to show me how so I turned to books. There were only a few library books on abuse, and even fewer books about healing. Most of what I found were stories from survivors. In their stories, they wrote about what they did to heal.
Most of them went to therapists and I felt defeated because I couldn’t go to one. I came from a very small town and there were no therapists or counselors. Even if there had been, I wouldn’t have been able to afford it and I honestly don’t think I would have told anyone else…
I normally don’t comment on OSA since Christina and I often discuss the subject matter of her posts and the limited contributions I could make, when relevant, are reflected in her words. This time, I want to add some thoughts from a perspective few others could have. The comment posted by Christina’s mother, Mary, on “My Story by Christina Enevoldsen” the day before Christina’s birthday, prompted excellent comments from many people. One in particular caught my attention. Pinky, speaking to Mary, said, “…because it is as if you have read the manual on how to be an abusive parent.”
That observation was based on only a few lines from Mary, typed into the OSA comments. I can add to Pinky’s statement from firsthand observation and knowledge. I know Mary and Fred, Christina’s dad, very well. I knew them even before I knew Christina.