This is taking a lot out of me to write about this topic, but I feel someone out there needs this and it’s been beating me up for a while. It’s, unfortunately, becoming too common in our society and it’s important to share the story and the recovery that follows (I’m already tearing up). I will start with a disclaimer: as much as this family member hurt me and broke me, the rest of my family brought me from the bottomless pit and saved me. This is what a true family is all about.
Think back to when you were 5 years old. What were you doing then? Probably playing with toys, make believe, running wild through parks and your neighborhood, reading silly books, coloring or learning to make friends. While I had a lot of these similar experiences, I had one experience that would continue for the next 6 years of my life and would be a great family secret for so long. I was being sexually abused by a family member.
When I was little, it was probably easy for him to manipulate me and tell himself what he was doing was ok as long as he wasn’t getting caught. He wasn’t getting caught because he was bribing me, telling me I was wrong for thinking it was bad, telling me everyone will be mad at me if I say something and all the other lies and bribes you may have heard or seen. Ages 5-11 is a vulnerable state in so many ways and this person took advantage of all of them from me. He would take me away into random rooms at family get together’s and tell everyone we were going to read or play a game. I look back on it now and I don’t think I will ever allow a child to leave with an adult with those words; those phrases have forever damaged me.
I’ll never forget the night I finally broke down and I told my mother. My parents were already divorced by this point and my dad was actually living with his family, and this contained ‘the bad guy’. I remember coming home to my mom after a weekend with my dad and my whole being was tired from everything that man was doing to me and telling me. I told my mom and I’ll never forget the look of disbelief and feeling like she let me down. Reminder, my family didn’t let me down and I never felt that way; nobody knew and how could they know? After my mom got me calmed down and to sleep, she called my father and explained to him what was going on. My father was FURIOUS! He sat every one down in that house and confronted ‘the bad guy’. ‘The bad guy’ didn’t deny it (I was actually pretty shocked to hear this) and he left immediately. Nobody in my family questioned me (at least not to my face) and got me help right away.
As bad as that situation was, my family was just so supportive of me coming forward, getting help and letting me know I was never wrong and they would do everything they could to make me feel right and whole again. At 11 years old, you don’t really know what that is but you just want to feel like it will never happen again. It wasn’t until I started seeing a therapist again that I realized how grown up I was and still am regarding what happened to me. There are still phrases and situations that put me back into that time, but for the most part, I’ve made peace that it is over, at least for me.
If you or someone you know is or has dealt with this situation, please get help! The brainwashing engulfs you so much, you may feel bad to get help or like no one will understand or help you. I will help you, a friend or family member will help you, and there are safe places to go. Just know, you are never alone…