by Patty Hite, Jennifer Stuck & Christina Enevoldsen
Patty: Thirty years ago, when I started to heal from sexual, physical, and verbal abuse, there were no support groups for survivors. No one talked openly about abuse, especially not about sexual abuse.
I tried to talk to my friends. Though they felt compassion, they thought the best solution was to forget it and try to move on.
I lived in a very small farming town of 750 people. Seeing a therapist or doctor who understood the effects of abuse was not an option.
by Jennifer Stuck When I first started opening up about my childhood sexual abuse, I felt like I was carrying a deep dark secret that made me different from other survivors. It was the part of my story I always
by Jennifer Stuck
Still to this day, anytime I hear the phrases “playing doctor” or “show-and-tell,” I feel a shiver run down my spine.
Only recently have I realized that this is because my mother used those phrases to make light of my abuse from an older neighbor boy. She would even speak to other people casually about it right in front of me, like it was no big deal, saying things like, “I caught Jenny playing doctor with the neighbor boy again.”
I think using playful terms like those helped ease her own guilty conscience for not protecting me. If I was just “playing doctor” she could tell herself it was normal childhood exploring instead of seeing the reality that I was being sexually abused by an older child.
by Jennifer Stuck My childhood sexual abuse used to be something I rarely thought about. In fact, most of my time was spent finding ways to stuff my memories and feelings, doing anything I could to distract myself. I compulsively
Bethany: Father’s Day feels so empty to me–like one of those holidays like Flag Day or Secretary’s Day. Why should I pay attention to those? I don’t have a flag, a secretary or a father. My dad is in prison for sexually abusing me for most of my childhood.
Father’s Day for me has always been about going through the motions. Why should I honor a man who doesn’t deserve honor? He contributed a seed, but after that everything he for me was destructive.
Christina: I remember writing Father’s Day cards that really gushed about what a great dad I had, but it was always what I thought I should have felt about him. I felt guilty for not being more sincere. I thought something was wrong with me for not feeling closer or more loving. I tried to work myself up to appreciation and admiration but writing those cards always felt hollow and like a lie.
by Jennifer Stuck
I’ve been bombarded with the idea of unconditional love for as long as I can remember. Everywhere from home, to church, to Valentine’s Day commercials, people have pushed the concept that I should show love with no strings attached and expect nothing in return. People throw around phrases like “Blood is thicker than water”, “Love thy neighbor as thyself”, and “Love means never having to say I’m sorry.” But what does this type of thinking do to my personal boundaries? And more importantly, why SHOULDN’T my love have conditions?
I’ve recently become aware that the belief in unconditional love has interfered with my healing from childhood sexual abuse. In the past, I found it difficult to express anger towards the people who hurt me. My abusers weren’t my family and I never loved them, but I did care deeply about the people in my family who failed to protect me. The positive feelings I felt for my family coupled with the anger I felt about them neglecting me was confusing.
by Jennifer Stuck It’s a natural human instinct to crave companionship. I will always need other people. It’s healthy to have people I can turn to when I’m having a hard time—friends I enjoy being around and having fun with.
by Jennifer Stuck I have come to believe that secrets are the enemy. They are the parasites that eat away at the human soul. We are meant to be social creatures, to share and express our complex emotions. Yet generation
by Christina Enevoldsen, Bethany, Patty Hite & Jennifer Stuck Christina: When I talk about my childhood sexual abuse, I see it as an opportunity to validate my inner child. As I reveal the horror of what happened to her, I’m