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 exercised, cleaned morning till night – anything to not think. Even though my past was something I rarely thought about, it affected my day to day life more than I knew. This became evident to me when I had children. More specifically, when my girls reached the age I was when my abuse started.
I tried to ignore all the new feelings that came up, but with little success. I eventually decided to seek help when I found out that someone close to my family might be a sexual predator. I didn’t want my children to ever be hurt the way I was, and knew I needed to learn more about abuse so I could better protect them. That is what led me to OSA.
I started asking questions, talked to other sexual abuse survivors, and I read everything I could get my hands on. This helped me feel capable to handle the problem with the possible abuser. I have kept my kids away from that person and drawn strict boundaries as to who can be around my children. The thing that I didn’t expect is, what started as a journey to be a better parent began to make me feel like a worse one.
The more I read about abuse, the more of my own feelings came up. It was hard to focus on being a mom when I felt so overwhelmed. I didn’t want to be touched or climbed on when I was going through so much. My self-doubt started telling me that I was being a bad mother to focus so much on myself and my healing. I thought things like “My kids are only young once and I’m missing out on this time with them by being sad all the time”.
However what I’ve come to realize is by taking the time I need to heal, I am being the best possible mom I can be. I am learning how to keep them safe, as well as bettering myself as a whole. Now that I’m a little further along in my healing, I’m noticing benefits to my healing work that I never foresaw. One of the biggest changes is how openly I can talk to my kids about abuse, or about anything for that matter. In the past I was just as scared to talk to them about abuse as my family had been to talk to me. But now I have a monthly practice sessions with my children about what to do if anyone approaches them or touches them inappropriately.
Even more importantly than teaching them ways to protect themselves, I have let them know that if something terrible ever does happen to them, they can tell me and I will support them. I know that my kids feel supported in a way that I never did with my family. Not only is that healthy for them emotionally, it helps protect them from abuse. They know what healthy love looks like and are less likely to be fooled by the fake “love” abusers offer as part of the grooming process.
On top of the safety of my children, there have also been several other benefits to my healing. I’m more confident and my kids are also becoming more confident. I’m happier and therefore they are happier too. Beginning to heal from sexual abuse was the best thing I could have ever done as a mother. If I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Jennifer Stuck is whole-heartedly pursuing physical and emotional health and is determined to heal the wounds of her childhood sexual abuse. She loves to write, especially poetry. She is currently studying for a career in Physical Therapy. When she isn’t in school Jennifer is at home spending time with her two beautiful daughters.
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