I cannot speak out loud about what happened to me ten years ago. I can speak of the events of my childhood. I can talk about the details that happened, the ones I can remember, on the many occasions and many men that molested me. I nolonger have shame over any of the events that happened in my life. The title of my blog has finally been achieved. It took me a shorter time than I imagined to let go of the shame of the abuse that happened. In a year of writing, and getting support from the followers on my blog, I have reflected and pondered and grown. Thank you for that!! In that understanding I have gained the wisdom and knowledge that the victim never ever should carry the shame. The shame lies solely on the abuser. Period. I have overcome the shame and that is a monumental moment for me. I always thought my lack in ability to speak about it meant shame was involved. But I have no shame over the attack on me as an adult, yet I still can’t talk about it. I can write about it. I just can’t say the words.
Being 11 and being molested, and being 30 and being attacked, hold two completely different feelings for me. My childhood abuse consisted of slow, calculated, manipulative, confusing molestations that were repeated until I became numb. The abuse when I was 30 was completely different. It was sudden, unexpected, and petrifying. In my childhood I felt fear. In my adulthood I felt petrified. They are two very different words for me because they evoke two separate feelings. In my childhood I walked around in a state of dissociation. As an adult I was completely present and petrified. I won’t say that I didn’t leave my body a number of times but for the most part I was there fully in the moment, petrified when David assaulted me.
This man, David, his demeanor was different than what I experienced in the childhood abuse. In my childhood there was a sense of normalcy. “Yep this is going to happen again.” I was defeated in my childhood and each time it happened it just became part of my normal life. That did not make it any less traumatic, it was just what I knew would happen. There weren’t any surprises. I wasn’t surprised when different men did the same thing to me as a child. I thought this was just what happened to children. I assumed this was my sentence in life and being used was part of that. My body was nolonger my own.
After getting married and having a child, I felt my body was reclaimed. I grew to know me. I had not even yet begun the healing process from my childhood but I felt a safety that I had not felt since I was around 7 years old. My husband respected me as a person and respected my body and so I felt safe. I didn’t think that would ever be taken away again. I never even thought of it. It wasn’t something that even crossed my mind!
David’s wife was one of my best friends. I went to her house almost every single day. She lived about a mile from me. When I went to her house that night looking for her I never would have expected what would come. As a child I was molded. I did what I was told. I was never yelled at by my abusers. I was asked and I did. But David was different, he yelled. He was angry. He paced back and forth like an animal in a cage. When he closed the door behind me and stood in front of it ordering me to sit down I was petrified. I was so petrified that after he let me go I did not speak for almost 3 days after. Until David, I had somehow managed my past. I had stuffed down what I could, and tried to overcome the rest. But he brought back every memory, every moment of abuse that I had ever experienced. After David is when I started having signs of PTSD. After David I was not okay again.
I remember sitting in the chair he told me to and watching my chest, inhale, and exhale. I could see him pacing back and forth. I could hear some of the things he was saying. But I was accutely aware of myself. I looked at my hands, I felt myself breathing. Everything slowed down and I could hear my breath and my heart beat in my ears. He instructed me to drink a beer every few minutes. DRINK it he yelled. I sipped it as instructed. He told me that if he could JUST have sex with me then everything would be ok. He wouldn’t have to kill himself with the gun that was right there. He paced. He rambled about money that he wanted me to have stashed in the attic after his death. (Money in which his wife later climbed in the attic and said was not there).
I didn’t feel shame for what happened with him. I was a prisoner. I was 30 years old, looking at this as an adult and I knew that nothing I could have done would have prevented this from happening. After hearing what he did, his wife tried to put guilt on me. Her sister tried to put shame on me. “You could have just fought him off, he has post polio……you shouldn’t be walking around in tank tops, etc” I even got a call after the fact from his wife, my former best friend, pleading with me to forgive him or he would kill himself. All on me. They tried.
Their excuses, their pleas, their issues are their own. David, his wife, her sister, that entire family’s abuse issues are their own. What he did to me I am left with. That hour in that garage I am left with. I still cannot write all of the details although I have spoken of some. I have spoken only on a few occasions of a tiny few moments that happened there. I needed to so that my husband would understand what to do, how to tell his wife, etc. but limited words were used.
I feel no shame over what David did to me, and yet I cannot speak the words. Why? Why can I not say what HE did? The words are nowhere near my mouth. They are deep in my stomach churning there. Why do I need to speak the words? Do I? I feel that one day I do. I feel that to fully release from every cell of my body, the damage, petrified terror he inflicted, I need to speak the words. Because until I do, they lay trapped festering inside of me. It is something that is a work in progress. Something I will not give up on. But something I feel necessary for my healing.
For me, there were vastly different elements in the childhood sexual abuse I endured and the adult sexual assault I endured. The men, I believe were the same kind of man, but I was different. I don’t feel badly that I didn’t fight as an adult. I have the wisdom to know I was so molded as a child to lay still that in the same adult situation I would respond in the same way. Maybe it was in the way that everyone reacted…As a child I was just told to be quiet. As an adult I was questioned as to why I didn’t do more to fight back. Both were traumas and age doesn’t change any of that.
I have a moral to my long winded story. If you are a child, an adult, or elderly, abuse is life altering. The event is life altering. The reaction of those around you is life altering. Secondary victimization happens in childhood as well as adulthood. Meaning, that others will question, minimize, and project their own feelings onto you after an assault and revictimize you aka secondary victimization no matter what age you are. Just because you are 30 does not mean you can handle an attack any better than if you were 11. I didn’t. And that is okay. We shouldn’t have to be handling it. It shouldn’t have happened. There is no right or wrong way to react to being assaulted. I have no shame, but I also have not spoken words. I still have moments of anger, moments of sadness, moments of terror when thinking about what happened with David. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of what happened to you. It is your feelings that need to be validated and heard. And if you are like me, and cannot speak them, maybe just writing them will get some validation of the trauma in which you endured. You can write them. I will read them. And I will hear you.
Sexual violence affected me differently at age 11 than it did at age 30. BUT it also affected me the same. There were hundreds of differences. But there was one common factor. There was an abuser, and there was me. I felt the sickening feeling one feels when touched against their will both times. I felt the dirtiness, the tainted feeling, the ruined feeling, both times.
When I left his house that night I had the beer can left in my hand. It was an odd focus. I didn’t know what to do with it.i immediately dumped it as I was running to my car. In my mind it was “evidence” of something I hoped no one would ever know about. I had already set it in my mind that the silence of the abuse in my childhood would continue in this situation too. I HAD to get rid of the evidence. My fingerprints were on it. What if someone did find out and they proved that my fingerprints meant I was willing to drink and willing to be there. I HAD to get rid of this evidence. As I drove away from his house, as a 30 year old woman, that is all I could think about was how to get rid of this beer can. If that is not an indication of the damage trauma can do at any age, then I don’t know what is.