by Caden Ceirdris
When I was twelve, I watched the sexually graphic teen film, “Kids” with my siblings. I remember being surprised when my sister described what happened in the end scene as rape. That it was rape to have sex with someone who was passed out, asleep.
It seems obvious, but in some unconscious part of my mind, I winced. What had been done to me might have been wrong too. Perhaps I also deserved boundaries, both legal and personal over my own body, at least equal to what my sister was willing to give a fictional girl. Yet there was no one in my life at that point who would have even suggested that, let alone validated my experience; I was trained to passively accept whatever my family did to me, and was condescended to when it came to my emotions.
I wasn’t asleep when my older brother sexually abused me, and as I’ve had to face the reality of my past, I came to realize that the rest of the family wasn’t either. They were conscious, they knew what was happening. Often only thin walls separated them from the abuse, but they built up greater walls in their minds to avoid my …
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
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 like
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.
Yesterday was my 46th birthday. Birthdays prompt me to reflect on my life—where I’ve come from and where I am now. Some of my thoughts included the woman who gave birth to me. My mother walked out of my life several years ago and adamantly denies that my father sexually abused me. However, it appears she was thinking of me too since she left a comment on my blog post, My Story by Christina Enevoldsen:
“Christina has dreamed up her sexual abuse–accusing her father of horrible, evil behaviors that far, far from his character. Christina is using these accusations as a way of hurting her parents and getting the attention she craves. So sad that she is willing to create a fantasy world where she is the hero / victim. Will she ever come to her senses and ask for forgiveness? That is the first step to real healing…“
It wasn’t the typical warm, fuzzy sentiments that other mothers might send. Though she certainly didn’t intend to help me in any way, this turned out to be a key to my favorite gift this year—a gift that came from me.
by Christina Enevoldsen
When I was ten, I wet my pants in school. We were taking a very long test and our instructions were to remain silent at our seats. No talking, no asking questions, no moving around. Since that ruled out raising my hand to ask to go to the bathroom, and I wasn’t even allowed to wiggle in my seat, I only saw one choice.
As a child, I went to great lengths to avoid getting in trouble. Following the rules felt like a life and death matter. I didn’t need any type of punishment; it was punishment enough for anyone in authority to be displeased with me. The worst thing I could imagine was being labeled a bad kid.
That fear followed me all my life and it crept up when I started talking about my childhood sexual abuse. The first time I told my story publicly, I heard a little girl’s voice within me say, “You’re going to get in trouble now.” For a moment, fear gripped me and I was at the mercy of my parents again, subject to their judgment and the abandonment that went with it.