Tag Archives: recovery

5 Things Never to Say to a Survivor of Abuse

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I think that it’s very important for people from all corners understand how to approach others when they reveal that they have been abused.  Some people are well meaning but don’t understand how their comments can be very insensitive and sometimes also justify the actions of those that abused us.

  1. You need to forgive that person and move on with your life. The problem with this thinking is it’s not that easy and the “forgive and forget” mentality lets the perpetrator off the hook. Not all of our abusers have faced punishment and in my case, probably never will thanks to ridiculous laws. I don’t equate forgiveness to the idea of letting it go. Forgiveness gets rid of any punishment and life continues on as normal. Letting it go is something that happens after the victim is satisfied with the amount of therapy and release of  mental tormenting caused by the abuse. They are able to not allow the abuse control who they are as a person and don’t use it as an excuse to hurt others.
  2. Let it go (aka. Get over it). No. No. No. Don’t ever say this to someone that has been assaulted, abused, molested, raped, etc. This sort of thing doesn’t just happen on command and can take years and years for a victim to recover from. How about you just get over your grandma’s death? Oh, you’re still sad about that? Get the picture? Sexual abuse can seriously paralyze some people emotionally and sexually. They don’t just “get over it.”
  3. Why didn’t/don’t you call the police and turn that person in?
    The problem with sexual abuse and assault is that it’s not talked about enough. Most victims are terrified to say anything. In my case, I was plagued by guilt on so many levels. I also didn’t know that the clock was running out of me. The statute of limitations ran out in my state over 4 years ago. Back then, I was still trying to convince myself that everything was ok, but it was definitely not. In other cases, the victim feels like no one will believe him/her or perhaps they feel threatened. I recently found out that my stepfather molested and raped another family member for years. He had threatened her that he would kill the entire family if she told anyone. Given that a rapist or molester will only serve a relatively small sentence, any victim would be terrified of what could happen once that prison sentence is over or they are out on parole. In my case, I was told that my mother would be the one to kill everyone and herself. He played on her mental instability and knew exactly what he was doing. I still have that irrational fear. Others may lose their entire family in the process or even to greater lengths, their entire town could turn against them depending on who the abuser is. Just look at the Stubenville case.
  4. Gross. That was too much information! I got this once after revealing that I had been molested to a close friend. I was shocked. I expected a little more sympathy than that. Seriously, though, if child sexual abuse grosses you out consider the fact that one out of every seven kids you know is probably being abused. This statistic is only based on what is reported. It could be higher than that. So consider that there are victims that sit next to you at work or church and run the register at the grocery store. There are a lot of us. It’s too common. If you are going to be grossed out about it, then stand up and help do something to stop it. Apathy isn’t what we need and making you comfortable shouldn’t be our top priority.
  5. That person doesn’t LOOK like a child molester/rapist.  News Flash: just because a guy has a tan wind breaker and weird mustache does not make them an automatic candidate for sexual violence! There are people leading churches, schools, colleges, military, organized sports, etc. that have been convicted of sexually abusing children. These are people that the community looked up to and respected. Most of the time they have good taste in clothes and are very charismatic. If they aren’t leading, they are infiltrating organizations that have weaknesses so they have easy access to their victims. There have been attractive, young female teachers that sexually abused male students. This is just as wrong as a male teacher having sex with a 12 year old female student. They are still predators and manipulators. Looks can be deceiving. Don’t let yourself be fooled! Other predators are right under your nose. In my case it was my step-father. Most kids are abused by someone that has access to the living quarters like close friends or family members.

What does all of this amount to? When someone confides in you that they have been abused, the best thing you can do for that person is to believe them. If they are a minor and you feel that the abuse is ongoing, you have an obligation to report it. The other thing is to be genuinely there for that person. When I finally came out about my abuse earlier this year, I talked many ears off on top of writing this blog. It was the best thing for me. Knowing that others cared enough to listen and understand me and be a sounding board for my thoughts was such a gift!

 

 

I’m Still Here!

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Hello world! I had to vanish for a while because this semester of school about did me in but I passed and all is well! im-still-here-me9-14-10After September I really didn’t have time to do any writing because my astronomy and algebra professors thought my time should be spent doing otherwise. Right before finals I had a bit of a panic attack and shut down my blog but I knew it would be only temporary. If you aren’t already aware, all names on this site have been changed in order to provide myself and my family anonymity. One of the big reasons was that I didn’t want my mother to find it. Well, I failed at that!

I also have a LinkedIn profile and am part of a memoir writer’s society there. I had a link to this blog there to promote my writing but didn’t think twice to set it to private. Call me a dumbass! So, one day I received an email from WordPress that my views were “through the roof!” I had to check and see what was going on because it had been a few months since I had posted anything. I checked my stats and it looked like the viewer came from LinkedIn, which was a first for me so I went over to my LinkedIn account to check it out. I went to my notifications and there it was: my mother’s name under “who has viewed your profile.” My heart sank and I was mad and sad and a whole myriad of emotions. This blog wasn’t ever for her to read. I tried to keep it that way.

The purpose of this blog was to get all of the negativity out of my head and heart and rid myself of the shame and nightmares that I had been carrying around with me all my life. It is my therapy. She won’t see it that way. I honestly can’t believe that she read all of it. There is so much dirty laundry about my family here and there are some really heavy posts about some of my emotions through the healing process. I can’t imagine that would have been easy to read for her. I felt guilty. I changed my privacy settings on LinkedIn and privatized my blog until I could figure out what my next move was.

I contemplated for a few days many different things. At first I figured I could just change the name to “Goodbye Yesterday” instead, fix a few things and call it good. My mother’s not an idiot. She’d still find it if she wanted to. Before that, I almost shut the whole damn thing down and stopped writing all together but I realized that wasn’t the answer either. Why should I keep hiding? Why do I need to keep running? If she wants to stalk me then so be it. I am doing what is right for me. I needed to get my story out there and connect with other survivors so that I could muddle through all the weird emotions that were coursing through my mind and body. I needed to find myself apart from her.

I’m sure that after reading every damn single post, she probably thinks that I hate her. I don’t. I’m over that. I needed to get that out of me too. Don’t get me wrong- I’m still angry as hell. The woman is still married to a child molester and chooses to wallow in her own self pity rather than doing something about it. Things weren’t always terrible and there are things that I miss terribly. She’s my mother for crying out loud! Who doesn’t want a healthy relationship with their mother? Healthy is the key, though and safety is of utmost importance for my own children.

Just in case she comes back, here are my last words for her. This will be the last and only time that I will ever direct a post to her.

I miss your cooking. The chicken paprikash and sharing recipes. I’m still not nearly as good of a cook as you. I know that you would have bent over backwards (in your own mind) to do anything for me or my family. I have no doubt in my mind that you love me, even though your idea of love is skewed. I imagine the pain that you must feel of never having contact with the two babies that you birthed and raised. That pains me in my heart. But, you made choices. Your husband should have been locked up for life. Not only is he a child molester (not just me) but he is a rapist. I know that you think that he is harmless now but you don’t know that for sure. Do you know where he is at all hours of the day? He may not be prowling the streets or playgrounds but he is unsafe for my children to be around and I absolutely cannot stand to be in his presence without the overwhelming feeling of crying and/or throwing up taking over me. I gave you over a decade to get away from him. I would have been there for you but you lied and never had any intention of leaving him. For that, I blame you. There is still hope, though. I can be a part of your life if you leave him, leave the state and get professional mental help and therapy. Don’t wait until he croaks from his diabetes or whatever will end up taking him because it will be too late then. At that point, you have already made your choice. I have conditions but you have to follow them 100%. No only will there be hope for us but there will be hope for healing for you and possibly a happy ending in your life. The ball is in your court.

Awkward Little Me

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I was an awkward kid… at least I felt that way. I’m sure some people thought that I was just downright weird. It makes sense now. I probably had a hard time functioning as a kid because of all the crap my parents were putting me through. On the one hand, I had my mother ridiculing me for merely being a child. I remember her always telling me, “children should be seen and not heard.” I guess she thought that I talked too much. She was still giving me shit about that as an adult. She had no inner child so it was very difficult for her to relate with me at all. Then there was Dave, exposing me to all things sexual. I was being taught that those things were normal. He even told me how kids did porn. I am so grateful that the internet wasn’t big back then because there is no telling what else he would have done.

There were a few instances that I remember giving a grown up reasons to be concerned but I don’t know if it crossed anyone’s mind what was going on. When I was 6, there was the babysitter’s son. She walked in on us showing each other our privates. That was my idea. As I write this a new memory just popped up. That babysitter did call DFS because when the case worker came to visit, she mentioned that I kissed that little boy and told him, “this is how my daddy kisses me.” I was trying to French kiss him. That made two people, so I guess it did cross her mind. She didn’t babysit me after that. Now I know why. My parents also moved rather abruptly from that neighborhood.

A few years later when we were in the apartment complex, there was another incident at a different babysitter’s house. This sitter had 3 of her own kids. She took care of my brother during the day and me after school and on breaks. One day I was playing with their tape recorder. We used to record ourselves singing and just saying silly things. I had been playing with her daughter who was a couple of years younger than me. She got up and left and I was alone under the bed. The recording that I left was my version of an orgasm. Yep, I panted and moaned just like I had seen in Dave’s videos. Luckily for me, the sitter didn’t tell my mother (at least I don’t think she did). Instead she spoke to me directly and told me that was inappropriate and never do it again or she would tell my mother.  I think this lady might have known something was amiss because I don’t think this was the only time that I acted out with them but I don’t think she made any call to DFS.

As I got older, I had a knack for drawing cartoons. One of the things that I would draw was pictures of Dolly Parton and her big boobs. I also drew a lot of boobs. Just random boobs. I did this at someone else’s house and was called out about it. I do believe that this time my mother chewed me out for this.  I didn’t know it wasn’t normal to draw those sorts of things. I didn’t know that it wasn’t normal to kiss that way and make those noises. I was only portraying the environment that I had been exposed to.

I kind of feel bad for the adults that did call. They did what they could but still had to live with the thought that they knew a child was being abused and they couldn’t do anything else about it. Tonight I just realized that there were 3 calls made not 2. How many phone calls does family services need to get before doing a deeper investigation?

Needless to say, the abuse on both ends made me a very awkward child and teenager. I had a hard time making friends and keeping the ones that I did make. I had a hard time understand why someone would want to be friends with me. I still struggle with this as an adult. I can’t explain why.  I felt that I couldn’t be a part of the groups of beautiful, popular girls so when any of them would speak to me I would get all weird. I made some friends but not a lot and they usually changed every year. I had absolutely no self-esteem or confidence so that contributed to the difficulty that I had functioning with other kids.

I still struggle with my awkwardness today. I have a habit of being a wallflower and not putting myself out there. I’m afraid of risk and notoriety. I don’t like to be the center of attention. I feel like crying when people look me in the eye. I hate confrontation. I get this weird pain, almost like a bolt of electricity, up my spine when I do have to face someone who is being confrontational. A few times it has brought me to my knees. I hyperventilate when I think I’m going to disappoint someone.

I’m getting better, though. One thing at a time. I have actually gotten better at confrontation. However, when I do stand up for myself I get called down that I’m being a bitch and having an attitude. I don’t get that. Society is so fucking confusing sometimes.

My Inner Child

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This has always been difficult for me. I have longed for the days of being a child, free of abuse. I realize that I will never have those days back and getting in touch with the little girl me has not been easy. After I had my son, I realized just how out of touch that I was. I didn’t really know what to do about it, though. It was like I didn’t know how to play. I just couldn’t. I was so out of touch with that part of myself. I had no trouble with humor and being silly but not on a child’s level. I swore that I would get better at it when my daughter came. I’m getting there. Being a stay at home mom helps. I think part of it is just being able to find that innocent part of myself that isn’t tainted by the abuse. That’s hard.

I have been trying to explore that part of myself, especially at the park. I would say to anyone that is trying to get in touch with their inner child to just go to a park and go down slides. Don’t worry about the weird looks. Don’t worry if your fat ass gets stuck because you won’t. Just slide. Go swing. Let the wind blow through your hair. Smell the flowers in the breeze. Hear the birds chirp. Taking in all of these senses is helping me to find that place. I want to have the freedom that I see in my kids. The ability to run and laugh and not have a care in the world.

To do list: go to the park, don’t worry about laundry or paying bills, run, chase a bug, climb on something, swing, slide, soak in the smiles on the children’s faces and find your own.

How sick is this?

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I had another memory sneak up on me today. Something triggered it. I don’t know what but it was something. This was when I was a little older. It might have been when I was 18 and came out to church officials about the molestation. I remember talking to my mother about it and her reaction was just bizarre. She tried to justify his actions by telling me, “Well, I guess he just loved you so much that he wanted to make you all his.”

What. The. Actual. Fuck.

That’s all I could think. I feel like this Jackie Chan meme:

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Changes

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This whole process of healing and overcoming reminds me of a giant onion. That’s how my life has been since I was a teenager and I feel like I’m almost to the center most layers. The biggest change in my life concerning my abuse, was having my children.  After my son turned 4, I really began to distance myself from Dave. I thought so many times, “he is the age I was when it all started.” The thought made me sick. He was just a little boy so innocent and sweet. That’s what I was, but just a little girl. Why would anyone want to hurt such an innocent child? It wasn’t just the sexual abuse either. There were a few times that I felt like my mother came out of my mouth and personality. I hated it. I hated the feeling of losing my temper and hurting his feelings. I felt like I was turning into her and I vowed to never let that happen. I have made a personal vow to not be anything like her or treat my children in any way the way she treated me. It scared me. I didn’t want to put him through the hell that I lived through. I loved him too much. I also began to question the fact that she blamed not having good parents to teach her right from wrong as the reason why she didn’t know any better. I was raised by a pedophile and my mother (I don’t know what word to use for her) and I know how not to treat your kids. How could she do those things to me and not bat an eyelash? How could she let Dave get away with everything that he did? I didn’t understand it.

Having my daughter (Christmas 2011), I think was when things were beginning to spiral to where they are today.  My mother came and helped for a week after she was born which was really helpful and I was very appreciative. She didn’t rush up and sit for 3 days in the hospital… thank goodness! My daughter was a feisty and cranky baby. She hated her car seat so taking road trips anywhere was out of the question. We learned this the hard way because we did make a trip down when she was about 4 months old. It’s a 4 1/2 hour trip for us and she cried half the trip- both ways. We haven’t been back since. Instead, they came to visit recently. I really didn’t want Dave to come but my mother whined about he should get to see his grand kids too. The thing about Dave is that he is a pathetic lump of a man. I always tell my mother that he’s just a lump on a log.  I knew the trip would be a waste if he came and I was right. We had moved a couple of hours away so the drive changed from 4 1/2 to 6 1/2 hours. Just the drive alone wiped him out. He slept for 2 days. They were there for 3 and left the morning of the 4th. TWO days! When he did come out, he’d come out without a shirt on which was fucking gross anyway. He’s overweight and had that major surgery on his gut. Besides, this was my house not theirs. I would not walk around without pants on in their house. It was so damn annoying. When he finally was up and awake, he’d come out to the living room and play casino games on his phone or computer. When he finally decided to wake up enough to be a grandpa, my stomach just turned and turned. I had a hard time tolerating him holding my daughter. I was very uncomfortable. I was also pissed that he was acting so pathetic. Why even come? My son kept asking why grandpa was sleeping all day. It’s mind-blowing how a man could be in that much pain but yet can manage an entire grocery store meat department and mow lawns on the side. I really didn’t care what excuse he had, I had grown to despise him so much that I couldn’t stand to be around him. I was still sympathizing with my mother though but that was coming to an end.

A few years ago, I suggested that she get on Facebook that way she can see pictures of the kids and not feel so left out. I suggested this because she was starting to really harp on the fact that I didn’t live close to her. I reminded her several times that I moved a distance away for a reason and that I could never live near her. My mother has a horrible habit of only hearing what she wants to so when I say things like this, she thinks that I’m saying “I can’t live near you because of Dave.” But he is only half the problem. She honestly has no reason to think that she ever did anything wrong and we can and should have a very normal mother/daughter relationship. That was never going to happen. I could barely stand to have the long distance relationship that we had but I did it for her not me.

Facebook was the worst idea I could have given her. She took it to a whole new level. I wasn’t so bothered by the fact that she stalked every single one of my posts. She was my mother and overbearing but this was the internet so I tried not to let that get to me.  She didn’t have a best friend or really any family to be a sounding board for her when she wanted to bitch. She tried to make me be that person by guilting me but I wouldn’t do it especially when it pertained to Dave. When she lost her job she posted the most pathetic, giant scream for attention that I have ever seen a person put on Facebook. I wish I would have captured it before she deleted it. It was a whole paragraph of no matter how hard she works, it never pays off and no body appreciates her and blah, blah, blah. It was really sad. It made her look crazy. She took it down a couple of hours later. This wasn’t the first crazy-lady post she put either. At least most of the time she’d take them down but by then it’s too late. The other thing was that she was constantly posting pictures and memes about how wonderful her husband is. Yes, Dave, that guy. It was really pissing me off. Every time she posted something like that, it was like a punch to the gut. It was like she completely disregarded anything that happened to me and wanted to rub it in my face that she was never leaving him and wasn’t sorry for what happened to me. She also was posting things directed to my brother who is not on Facebook as well as memes about her daughter being her best friend. She just wasn’t getting it. I tried to tell her how I felt but it wasn’t getting through and if I was blunt enough then she’d lose her cool.

When things are rough for her, she doesn’t even try to be positive. Her negativity was really bringing me down and she was so relentless with contacting me that it stressed me out because I had to deal with it several times a week. After she lost her job and I became a stay at home mom, she thought this would be her opportunity to really get into my life. I tried to set boundaries for her a few times but she completely disregarded them. If I wasn’t talking to her everyday then she was texting me. It got to the point that she had nothing to say other than “hi.” This is a pet peeve of mine. I’m not a big fan of talking on the phone anyway but it really irks me when I get a call and the person who called me has nothing to say. When I tried setting those boundaries, I would tell her that everyday is too much, even texting. Sometimes she was put off by it and sometimes she didn’t even react. I was busy though. I’m a full-time student, I have a toddler (baby at the time), and I still do contract work for the company I used to work for so I’m busy. I don’t have time to text a person back and forth for hours or yap on the phone daily. It was really eating into valuable time. I felt like I had been just giving into her and letting her have her way. This wasn’t what I wanted. I really wanted to be in control of this and I felt that I had every right to be.

There wasn’t anymore talk of leaving Dave, either. They had downsized into a condo owned by my grandparents. They were renting it for pretty cheap so they could get on their feet since my mother wasn’t working. She was extremely ungrateful and very hateful toward them. She is a miserable and unhappy person and I honestly don’t know if there is anything in the world that could make her happy. I’m sure she has depression on top of whatever mental issue is going on. After I had my daughter, I had to get on a mild anti-anxiety medication because of stress. My husband was in his last semester of school before going into grad school, I was working full-time, he was working part-time as well as school, and we’d just had the baby. I was really stressed out. I needed it. When I told her that I was on it, her response was, “I don’t believe in that kind of medication. You shouldn’t be on that!” Well, that explained a lot. I don’t know why she didn’t like anti-anxiety pills but it sure does explain why she refuses to get help. I really didn’t want her negativity and hateful attitude around my children anymore, either. It was really wearing on me. She was just so hateful and made rude comments about all kinds of people behind their backs. I was really beginning to understand that she is a toxic person and that Dave was just as toxic.