Today I don’t feel like a survivor

Abuse history below*

Today I don’t feel like a survivor. 35 years ago I was sexually abused, but today it feels like just yesterday. 11 years ago I was sexually assaulted, but today it feels like just yesterday. Today I feel like a victim of abuse, that just happened. It is as if no time has passed. I feel broken and I don’t know which event or which person broke me. I mean, I survived it. I’m still here. But I don’t feel like a survivor. I feel broken in so many ways. Mostly, broken in spirit. For me, that’s the worst kind of broken. 

I feel isolated and alone in my brokenness. 

I feel helpless and hopeless in my brokenness.

I’ve tried all the meds for PTSD. I’ve tried all of the holistic and homeopathic and imagery and ALL OF IT. I just don’t know how to fix a broken spirit. God’s will? My own will? I don’t have the answers. I can just tell you how it feels to be me right now. I don’t even want suggestions on how to fix me. I want grace. I want love. I want compassion. 

We had a foster dog a few weeks ago. I connected to her on a very deep level due to the scars of abuse that she had on her. I wanted so much to love all the pain away that she had ever experienced and I tried my best to do so. She didn’t want to eat so I lay on the floor and fed her out of my hand. She didn’t want to be alone so one of us held her at all times. I felt her wounds inside of myself. I felt the cruelty that had been given to her that had also been given to me. I did everything I possibly could even at the detriment of my own body, to help her, because she deserved someone that would carry her, lift her up, love her through it. And she, was a dog. It didn’t make her less deserving because she was a dog. But no one got on the floor with me. No one held me so I didn’t have to be alone. No one put their hands on me and tried to pray the wounds to be healed. No one did the smallest acts of compassion for me that I was more than willing to do for a foster dog.  That realization broke my heart. Those who supposedly loved me could not give me an ounce of love that I gladly did for a foster dog. My own mother, my own father, my own brothers, find me unworthy of even a scrap of compassion. And that realization breaks my heart. The idea that someone can be cruel to an animal or abuse a child breaks my heart. But that society will not bond together to heal those wounds, breaks it even further. My family…I don’t think I could hate them more than I do right at this very moment. I hand fed an abused dog and my family does not even acknowledge anything that ever happened to me. Even through my brokenness I hate them. It would have been like my poor abused foster dog, instead of coming to me, going to someone who chained her up to a pole and left her. Because that is EXACTLY what my family has done to me. Think of the healing they could have given had just one of them been willing…

I don’t know if it was the actual abusers or the people who did nothing in the face of the abuse that broke me. I don’t know if it was my family disowning me because I spoke the truth or the knowledge that they were those kind of people all along that broke me. It would be easy to blame my health for my feeling of brokenness. My body is actually broken. But it is not my body’s brokenness that makes me feel like a victim. My broken spirit makes me feel like a victim.

You know how your little toe gets stubbed and you wonder if it is jammed or broken and either way there is not much that can be done about it? So you tape it to the other toe and try to get away with wearing sandals or flip flops until you can manage to put it back into a shoe. That tape gets dirty around the edges and you want to take it off and put new tape on but that would hurt to badly. So you walk around with dirty tape holding that toe straight. Other people will see your toe and nod, because yes, they KNOW how badly a tiny little toe can be. How something so small on your body can cause so much pain! Other people may even comment on why we even have that little toe and what it’s purpose is because it really just seems to get in the way! You can get real empathy for those toes taped together. That little toe gets some real understanding. Even when someone stubs it and rolls around on the ground you can just say, “Yep, been there.Amazing that that little toe can bring someone to the ground!” But not everyone knows what feeling sexually assaulted feels like nor are they outwardly going to give words to validate that pain. There is no common ground here in society in regards to sexual abuse. No one knows what to say. I’m sure there is no rule book that says :11 years after a person has been sexually assaulted here are the best things for you to say. Just know, it doesn’t go away. Time doesn’t matter. And it is not always the words that are said or not said but the ability to give compassion in a moment where it is obvious that someone is suffering. 

Sexual abuse survivors can’t wear tape to show their brokenness is trying to be held together. My experience with sexual abuse is no secret though. My diagnosis of PTSD is no secret. My struggles are not a secret. I shouldn’t  need a piece of tape or a sign around my neck saying “sexual abuse victim” to find some compassion in this world. I often wish I could tape myself to someone else who is strong and let that person hold me up just like the pinky toe gets help from the next toe over. People assume I am strong because I have survived. People assume since so much time has passed that I am ok. I guess that is what they asssume because no one asks. I don’t feel strong. I don’t feel like I have survived. To feel like I survived would mean that I was living and I don’t feel like I am even alive today. 

Today I feel like a victim of abuse that happened just yesterday, or even just hours ago. I don’t know what makes today different. But I have had many days like today along the way. I can remember every moment, the ultimate feeling of violation and helplessness, as if it happened moments ago. 

Today I took my wheelchair around the same block that I have taken it around for 11 years. Which makes it just over 4000 times I have been around the same block. Today, I cried. I cried for my brokenness and my scars and my wounds that are still so fresh. I passed by multiple people who saw me crying. Not one asked if I was ok.Today I could have used a friend. Today, I needed someone who would do the little things for me that I gave my abused foster dog. But no one did. It is not as if I didn’t ask. I reached out to many friends, but they didn’t hear me. I am heard more on my blog than I ever am in my present life, which is why I am writing this now. I know so many are out there feeling just like me and think they are the only one. You aren’t. And the reality of it sucks. I may only be out here in the virtual blogging world for you but I don’t want you for one moment to feel like no one else in the world feels like you do.

I know what it feels like to have more than a broken pinky toe…to instead have a broken spirit, and have no one even acknowledge the pain of that. The depth of that. I know what it feels like to have people turn their back on you as my family did to me. And I can tell you that it is all on them and has nothing to do with you but I can also tell you that that knowledge doesn’t make it hurt any less. I know what it feels like to have the men who committed heinous sexual crimes, walk around free. I know what it feels like to have friends, family, and  society, fail you. I know the isolation. I know the emotional and mental anguish. I know the reality of sexual abuse and its after affects, and they are brutal. I know. I also know how far a simple act of grace and compassion can go and how rarely we get it. Talk about invisible illnesses ….everyone talks about invisible illnesses. I have many! What about how invisible rape is. No one ever talks about that! No one ever talks about that.

Victims of sexual abuse don’t always feel like survivors. We sometimes feel alone and broken. Today was one of those days for me. 

74 thoughts on “Today I don’t feel like a survivor

  1. (((((Bethany))))) I’m so sorry you are hurting so much right now. I’m sorry you didn’t have anyone there for you irl today or anytime you need that.

    The visual of taping yourself to another person like you described really hit the whole description of how you’re feeling, home. That could be a great way to illustrate that as like a public service announcement or something. And I’m not trying to be funny. Because you’re right, a lot of people don’t understand.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I don’t know if I want to cry or scream reading this. Both. realistically. I am sorry today was such a shitty day. I get it. I was at a networking event last night (so no one knew one another). A woman at the table I was at shared a very vulnerable story with the group. The type that you just saw the absolute raw pain in her eyes as she spoke. I saw it, I got it. Not one person at the table said a word, not one word. I thought to myself what is wrong with people? I understand people don’t always know the “right” thing to say or do but for god sake…say something! I ended up being the only person who acknowledged her and the story she shared. What you wrote of just brought this up for me, so prevalent and hard to deal with. I often think if people could feel even a percentage of the pain people are in and feel maybe then they would extend a little more human decency. Sending lots of light your way, hoping tomorrow a little more spirit finds you.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Your experience is just a snapshot of society. I am just thankful that she was brave enough to speak and it was at your table so you could give the compassion she needed. How terribly sad noone felt they could say anything to her. I glad for all of the yous in the world!
      Thank you for your thoughts, your understanding, and that last sentence of hope. I really appreciate that

      Liked by 1 person

      • You are welcome, but thank you for sharing with all of us. I always think (and it was true for me) we all have that one person (or many) who we hear/see be really brave that blows a little bravery in to us. That is how it works. I think it is important to keep showing up but whether you know it or not it will make the difference to someone. Hopefully it makes things ripple in the right direction.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I had 2 events of child molestation one on going from 4-5, which I mom didn’t believe me. She made me feel dirtier than the old man doing it to me because she thought I was making things seem worse than it really was. 2. was a 14 yr. Old cousin, I was 6-7 this time he and his family came over to visit. I went in living room to whisper in my mom’s ear he wanted to play with me. I didn’t get to say, she got mad and said get back there with the kids. I tried another time to tell Mom and same reaction. So he ended up giving me a bad infection because his hands were so dirty. When mom found out she never said oh honey I’m so sorry, I was just taken to a Dr. And got antibiotics then end of story. Sometimes family can make us feel victimized as much as the sexual abuse.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am also sexually abused by my cousins around that age. I often hear that mothers would not usually believe about the molestation, I cannot understand why they cannot believe. Someone told me probably because of denial. I don’t know. Maybe I will find that out!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am so sorry it happened to you. How absolutely devastating you had to experience abuse. I am so sorry you went through that and no one stepped in to make sure you were ok. I am sure many mothers live in denial. Mine certainly has as my entire family does. But that doesn’t make it excusable, it just makes them cowards. Children need to be children and they deserve advocates to stand up to the villains for them. It is a mother’s job.
        Thank you for sharing your story. My heart goes out to you

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you. Actually that was an observation I made from connecting to different survivor, although my mom doesn’t really know about what happen to me.

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      • No, I was not able to tell her. I keep it a secret for the longest time. I was around 20 when I was able to speak about it on my husband. Gradually I was able to open it up even to our children for them to understand me and to be aware but never did to my mom. She passed away six years ago

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      • Keeping it a secret I understand all to well. Im sure it took a lot for you to tell your family. I told my husband and daughter as well and they’re very understanding and i think really get why i am the way i am.
        How do you feel about not telling your mom?

        Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t know how I feel because there was nothing sort of deep communication between me and my mom when I was growing up. We just normally talk about the everyday life and the things to do, stuff like that. When I got married, that was the beginning of understanding the struggle and I have my husband with me to whom I open up everything bits by bits.

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      • Sounds a lot like what I experienced with a mom that didnt go deeply below the surface, at least never directly to me. I think she felt, but didnt know how o show that feeling. I can only speculate,. Having a husband that you can open up to on your own time and terms seems safe

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yah it is true. When I have my kids, that’s when I started to understand my mom and the way she brought me up. I also started to forgive and see how I also need to asked for her forgiveness. Everything begins with understanding myself then I begin to understand hers as well.

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      • I think it’s the guilt and shame of it. My daughter was raped. And I feel so much guilt and shame. I blame myself in so many ways. And it is very difficult to deal with. This however is no excuse. Hopefully maybe insight. Pleae read my. Log it’s time to make everyone aware.

        Liked by 2 people

    • First, I feel honored that you would tell me your story. It is only them who should feel dirty because they are scum, but I know the feeling seems to rub off even if we don’t want it to.
      I am so sorry those things happened to you. And that no one believed you or protected you or saved you. What an injustice that you should have never had to face, ever. Im sorry you didn’t have the mom you deserved, one that would have done everything in her power to make sure you were ok. Having no one say, I’m so sorry, makes the knife go in further I know. You deserved better. So much better. You are so right. Family can make us feel victimized again. Thank you for sharing your story. I am sure it is painful to write. I just cannot fathom, as a mother, not believing her child and going to the ends of the earth to make that child ok. I experienced it myself, but hearing someone else’s experience makes me outraged for you. I send you understanding and validation and care, and appreciating for taking the time to write to me.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Some people do not know how to love, some know how to love, but do not choose to love, some are narcissistic and wouldn’t know how to see beyond themselves nomatter what. All injustices to a victim of abuse. They could at least try to do better. Most don’t. And the child suffers into adulthood.
      Thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Bethany,
    All I can tell you is that I love you- abuse or not. Your physical body does not make the real you. There is a soul and a spirit inside you which has come from God. No one can break that spirit- remember that. Keep writing- if possible, keep talking and spread the message.
    If possible write a book.
    And give comfort in your own way to living creatures weaker than you.
    For questions you don’t have answers to, keep praying- you can ask, what is my purpose in this life ? And it will be shown you- I believe so.
    And when one day, you get to meet your Creator, you can ask all the questions you want and ask Him to fill in all the blank spaces.
    Big hug to you.
    Susie

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  5. It is hard to feel so broken at times from sexual abuse. Just when you start to think you are getting past the worst of PTSD, depression, anxiety or whatever form your wounds take, an awful day, or an awful week — seemingly out of the blue — takes you down. I am sorry you are having one of these times. The loneliness and isolation of childhood or young adulthood rears its head too at these times. Your soul cannot find comfort anywhere or from anyone. I know what you are going through and it is not your fault. I was raped repeatedly by our paper boy and his friend and when I finally told my father, he started sexually abusing me. So I have days and weeks like this too. I hope knowing that someone understands brings you some relief. I send many wishes for better days ahead for you.

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    • Yes, you explained it perfectly. Thank you for understanding.
      I am so sorry you were victimized in such a horrific way. Then to finally tell your father…that took such courage…to then have him use that against you and do the same horrible crimes. Awful people. Awful to hurt an innocent girl who just deserved a normal life. I hate that for you. Im so sorry it happened.
      Thank you for taking the time to share you story and give compassion to me. Hoping for better days too! You are so right that out of the blue just bam taken down by something from some so long ago that PTSD doesn’t let you forget. It’s hard. Most people don’t understand. Thank you for understanding .

      Liked by 1 person

      • After a time, I blocked the abuse from my consciousness (for over 20 years) till I started having flashbacks in my thirties. There are some awful people in the world. I did had a wonderful sister who loved me immensely. I just wrote about her a couple of days ago because it was her birthday. However, she was never able to accept the truth about our father. But, my friends did. Thank goodness for good friends and good therapists! You mentioned feeling like you hadn’t survived the abuse. I know that I would like to do more than simply survive, but rather thrive. I read your blog regularly and am inspired by how well you express yourself and find happiness some days despite you PTSD and your illness. I also am a fan of your poetry. Well, that’s all for now — time to do the laundry. 🙂

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      • I can so relate to this. I didn’t start having flashbacks until my 40’s.
        I am glad you felt the love of your sister. How sad though she couldn’t accept the truth. I have a few people, like you, who know what happened and continue to support me. There are nights late at night when I am laying there alone though and it can spiral into a dark and lonely place. It is something I have been working on. Distraction and other coping skills. I have a great therapist too. We are chipping away at it all.
        THriving is what I WANT but am just not there yet.
        I truly cannot thank you enough for your support, for reading my blog, and recognizing that I do have some days where I find beauty and good amidst all of the ptsd shit. Thanks for the compliment on my poetry too!
        Happy laundry time!
        Most people hate laundry. I feel very accomplished when I get all the laundry done. I don’t necessarily like the process but the end result is good.
        Have a good day and thank you for your comment. I always appreciate your words.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Personally, I think the pain of not having people stand by you can be far, far worse than the the things that were done to you originally. I have been in a situation where I was bullied, in ways which if I’m honest were fairly trivial, but where no-one in the entire very large group in which it occurred (hundreds of people) took my side. Hearing them all continue to talk and post on social media about what a wonderful caring and supportive group they were, “just like a family”, while ignoring and dismissing me, was the most devastating thing. It made me feel as if I was nothing, a non-person. That experience has had a huge influence on my decision not to tell people in my life about the sexual assaults that happened when I was younger, especially the one by a well respected person they know, because I don’t think I could face that kind of reaction about something that was so much more difficult to cope with in the first place. People kid themselves that they are “not taking a side”, when what they are really doing is taking the perpetrator’s side and protecting them, just to make their own lives more comfortable.

    What happened to me is nowhere near as traumatic as the things that have happened in your life, but it gives me some idea of how very very difficult it must be for you after all you have been through. I am sorry that you have been so badly hurt and continue to hurt even now. I hope that you can find some comfort in the acts of love and kindness from the people (and animals) in your life who genuinely do care.

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    • That is absolutely heart breaking. The amount of people and social media that was involved in the bullying and not supporting you. Absolutely horrid. I am so sorry you went through that. I so know that feeling you are talking about where you feel like nothing of a person. Like you don’t matter. And the realization that others don’t think you matter can lead to just like you said…influencing you to not tell about the sexual assaults. Secondary victimization is just very very hard to bear. I really agree with everything you say here. Not taking a side IS taking the side of definitely not the victim. Denial makes life easier for them and they have no idea what the victim is left with. It took me years to realize that I DID matter and that THEY did not define my self worth. Thank you for sharing your story.
      I do find comfort in tiny things, the birds, my daughter’s laugh, etc. some days, they are just hard.
      I’m sorry you were ever dismissed. You deserved so much better.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m so sorry, Bethany. Some days we are strong and brilliant, shining with our tenacity, determination and fortitude. Some days we feel our pain as if it were brand new. Those days are incredibly difficult, and it is hard for others to understand how it can hurt so much years later. But I do know what you mean. I’m holding you and your pain very tenderly in my heart.

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  8. I admire you for writing this. You have such a way with imagery and words. You have put into a few 100 words what I’ve been struggling with for years. Only I didn’t know that was it. Your post resonated with me so strongly. I want to thank you for writing. I can only send my love to you. You deserve it. We all deserve it.

    *hugs*

    Liked by 1 person

    • My heart felt thank you for writing this to me. It was just what I needed to hear today. That I have written something that has helped another person that has struggled. I truly appreciate your comment. Sending love and compassion to you

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  9. Bethany, my heart goes out to you. You have depicted the exact imagery of brokenness in the face of perseverance. You have struggled through your life and have overcome more than you even realize.
    The traumas that we go through cause a brokenness to our hearts, souls, and spirits that too many just do not realize. You have displayed that. Your story will help many to overcome too as they face the brokenness of their pasts. I wish that I was right there with you to be “taped” to you but know that you can contact me any time. I will be praying for you.. The book that came to my mind as I read your posting is by Dr Henry Wright entitled, “A More Excellent Way.” It’s about the spiritual roots that cause illness in our bodies. I would also love to send you a copy of my book, The Walking Wounded. So many of us have been victims of various abuses with wounds to our souls and spirits… and we don’t even realize it. I pray for God’s healing in your life. That He will bring healing and restoration to you, body, soul, and spirit!! God bless you!

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  10. I feel your pain. I was abused as a child and didn’t tell anybody until I was 23. The abuser was a family member and after I told, my parents continued to treat him as if nothing ever happened. I wasn’t able to attend family functions because I couldn’t stand to be around him, but because nobody wanted to acknowledge the abuse, he was able to happily attend all the gatherings. It broke my heart that they were willing to exclude me in order to sweep it under the rug. I have kids of my own and cannot for the life of me figure out how a parent could be civil, let alone friendly, to somebody who had done such monstrous things to their child. Maybe people don’t realize the damage that does to a person. It’s not the immediate pain that is the problem, it’s the mental destruction that alters the course of your entire life. We will never know who we would’ve been if we hadn’t been abused because that person is dead. All we know is that the people who are supposed to love and support you unconditionally can do more damage than the abuse itself. I’m sorry to those who deal with this daily, but I’m glad to see I’m far from alone in my struggle.

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    • 23. That is such a long time to hold all of that in. I am so sorry you had that burden to carry. And then to finally speak what happened and have them act like nothing happened. It is so very victimizing. It is one of the worst feelings in the world at least in my perspective. That just makes me sick he was allowed to attend everything like nothing happened. Sickening. It is hard to imagine, having your own child, me having my own child, that anyone would be capable of ignoring something so horrible. And for what? I will never understand the allegiance or alliance or loyalty to the bad guy. Never. I am just so sorry you went through it and were not loved and supported. That just is not how it is supposed to be. I do understand. Thank you for writing. I truly appreciate you sharing your experience because you are right, you are far from alone.

      Liked by 1 person

      • People act like it’s a bad reflection on the entire family if they let the “secret” out. I don’t see how covering for a sicko is the better choice. That’s the mentality that ensures that sex abuse continues to run rampant. I blame myself for not going to the police because I know there were others victimized after me and I could’ve saved them. The whole thing is an emotional mind fuck. I feel guilt for things that I know really aren’t my fault. I wonder what I could’ve or should’ve done differently to prevent it from happening in the first place. Common sense tells me that at 3 yrs old, I wasn’t guilty of anything, but that doesn’t stop me from the wicked thoughts and self-hatred I battle daily. I’m thankful that others, like you, have the courage to speak out about your experience. It lets the rest of us know that we aren’t struggling alone and that the thoughts and feelings we have are normal after being abused.

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      • Thank you for writing such a heart felt and honest message to me. You just had the courage to write about what happened to you and share the struggles that I share. So thank YOU. Just today I was telling my husband how guilty I felt for not doing more. I know it is not my responsibility to save all of the potential victims of the man that abused me but sometimes it feels like I should and I want to and i have guilt that I don’t so your comment helped me.
        I thought about this a lot today actually. And my husband had a great point, it isn’t our job to save everyone. Their parents should be protecting them. Their family should be protecting them. But they don’t always.
        I really do appreciate your comment. I don’t see how covering for a child molester is a better choice either. I never ever will understand that. How hard is it to just love the innocent child? I will never get that part. But that’s not for us to figure out. That is on them. Their choice, their burden.
        Thanks again.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The monster who abused me is now married to a woman that’s principal at an elementary school?!? When I decided to publicly out him, I made sure she knew because that’s like an all-you-can-eat buffet for a child molester. Of course she believes him and I’m a liar. Not sure what she thinks I’d have to gain by making that up, but that’s on her conscience, not mine. After I told my story, his younger brother ended up telling that he’d also molested him as a child. When he heard them saying I made it all up, he finally snapped and told them why he knew I wasn’t lying. It’s almost humorous that some people think it’s a lie. Why would two adults with successful careers and families just get together and pull this particular person’s name out of thin air? What would be the reasoning or motivation behind it? I guess I thought it would be really fun to fake numerous mental illnesses and attempted suicide, years of depression, and crippling guilt. Oh well, the people who matter know the truth, including his own father. Anybody who doesn’t believe it is in denial to protect their own feelings and avoid having to re-evaluate their entire life I.e being married to him.

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  11. It hurts so much when you don’t feel like others “have your back”. I understand your pain. You are not alone! I was molested by my stepfather and he remains married to my mom even after the admission to her of the sexual abuse as a child. I am discovering that distancing yourself from those who do not support you is an important part of healing. I pray you have better, brighter days. God bless you!

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    • It really is painful to not have the love that should have been there, the support that you would have thought would instinctually be there. But you are so right…getting away from those who continue to hurt, don’t validate, is so important for healing.
      How absolutely devastating your stepfather abused you and then your mother stayed with him. I am so so sorry to hear that. That is abuse ten fold because your mother’s choice is just victimization again. You deserved better than that. You deserve a mother who chooses you. I’m so sorry. God bless you too. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and leave such a compassionate comment for me

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for your response, Bethany! I’m learning family isn’t always who you think. I’m learning….we have the ability to step away from those who don’t show the needed support. It has been devastating to hear her words of so easily forgiving him without taking time to truly understand. Life isn’t always what you expect but I’m learning that I will be ok! Finding the right people who lift you up is everything.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Today is one of those days for me. Only I wasn’t raped my daughter was. When I realized she was gone, I knew something bad was happening. The police don’t handle things well. But I feel so much pain from it. I feel no one gets it. I failed her. To educate her. To protect her. My family betrayed us. I don’t talk to anyone. No one asks if I’m ok. I started my blog alittle over a month ago. And husband gets so made when he sees me writing. He has no idea what or why or that it’s a blog. He sees it as me keeping secrets. And yet the truth is it’s so public. But he doesn’t ask. Why does no one ask?? I cry myself to sleep and no one ask. Awareness has to be made. No one talks about. It’s time we do. Find your voice. Tell your story. Make them listen.

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    • Oh my gosh. I am so so sorry!!!!!!
      How devastating. How helpless you must have felt. How helpless you must feel. I can hear the love you have for your daughter and the pain you have inside yourself for what happened to her. I am glad you are writing and sharing your pain on your blog. I will go look at it right now. You are the mother that we all wish we had. One that loves and feels the pain and wishes so much we could fix it.
      I am so sorry your family betrayed you.
      It is true. No one asks. No one asks me either. No one ever did. I’m sorry no one asks you . They should. They are wrong. You are not to blame for what happened to your daughter. I’m so sorry for both of your pain

      Liked by 1 person

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