denial

Sued For Exposing My Sexual Abuse

Injustice of being suedSeveral months ago, I settled a sixteen month long lawsuit with my parents (actually, my dad died before the case ended so only my mother was left). They sued me for defamation of character and intentional infliction of emotional distress. I’d publically exposed my childhood sexual abuse by my dad and they didn’t like that very much.

I like to think of myself as a crusader. The internal image of myself is a fierce-looking woman, charging on horseback toward oppressors, declaring the truth to those they hold bound and inspiring them to overthrow the tyrants’ rule. I don’t back down from standing for and with the oppressed.

I’ve eliminated abusers from my own life, but after the relief of not having a relationship with my mother for nearly six years, she was back in it. With the lawsuit, I didn’t have the choice of walking away. I not only had to read the painful lies my mother used as “discovery”, I had to respond with a defense. I felt controlled and victimized again.

Confronting My Abuser

confronting my abuser

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.

It’s Not About You, Mom

daughter ignoring mom

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.

Male Sexual Abuse: Suffering in Silence

photo by Victor Bezrukov

I have been silenced, me and my trouble.

I first silenced myself in shame, not even knowing exactly why, but somehow… it was wrong, what had just happened. And I knew it. I looked for a friend but got something else. The trust I had put in him had been violated, shattered. I was pretty sure it was wrong, but there was no one to ask without shaming myself for “not knowing better” It was just a vague feeling then, but it needed a private answer and there was no one to ask. So I silenced The Question. Thus The Silence began.

Then my abuser said, “Don’t tell.” We both knew what had happened. But both of us—my abuser and I— had The Question. But it was a hard question, hard to figure out what the question really was, too hard to figure out the answer alone, and it was too shameful to ask anyone else about. So my abuser told me what he told himself: “Just shut up about this—tell no one.”