My Abuse Story *may trigger*
In a way I have always known that the abuse took place, but it is not an idea that I was really able to grasp until I fell in love. I do not have any actual memories of the abuse, because I would have been only three years old when it happened. It has taken years for me to piece together the memories, and understands the signs until it painted a clear picture of molestation.
When I was little I used to ask my mother to tell me stories of her childhood, and she would tell me that could not remember it very well. I vowed to my young self that I would never forget being a child, or else it would be as if that version of me would cease to exist.
I remember watching lifetime movies about child molestation. I did not entirely understand the movies, but I felt drawn to the topic, driven to understand the stories. I remember the thought “that happened to me” coming clearly into my head. I hardly even understood the thought, but I knew that it was important for me to remember the fact for when I grew up.
Here are some of the clues that I pieced together:
A family friend is presently incarcerated for child molestation
Whenever his family would visit our house for an extended stay, at night I would get a horrible, sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that I could not understand.
I still have night terrors. If I have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I am haunted by the certainty that some nameless horror is in the dark. The feeling is so real, but there is no one there.
I remember nightmares, just sensations of fear and horror that did not make sense. My memories begin shortly after we moved to a new city, away from the family friend. The nightmares grew less as time passed. I have a very early memory of lying awake and staring at my bedroom door in abject horror. I did not understand why I felt this way. I was not afraid of anyone in the house. Why was I so scared?
When I had my first boyfriend, he would remind me of that family friend. It was weird that I should think of the family friend so many years later, but sometimes the smell of him or a flash of his arm would make me think of that family friend, which I found very odd at the time. Why on earth was I think about someone I had not seen in years? Our parents were still friends, but I have not seen him in a very long time.
Once, he had his father give me a small, stuffed pink rabbit at Easter time. I kept it for years, and I did not know why. It was a fairly ugly little pink rabbit. I think, perhaps, he was sorry.
My mom told me that the family friend has an uncle that she “had a funny feeling about,” and that she did not want us around him. She said she did not think he should be around kids.
I went through a phase at the age of four when I did not like being kissed. I thought that mouths were wet and disgusting and I only wanted hugs from my family.
I had certain visuals that I did not understand, nightmare images that haunted me, that made no sense. From an adult perspective those nightmare images make all too much sense.
I was scared to death to be alone with a man. I would start shaking. I felt so irrationally afraid of physical intimacy. It was not until I found a partner who was incredibly responsive, who would stop immediately without asking questions if I asked, that I was able to relax. My first reflex was to distance myself from what was going on, to shut down my mind and try to block it out.
Even now that I am happily married to a wonderful man, when I have to get up to pee in the middle of the night I am so afraid that I if I were startled I could scream.
I do not like to be causally touched by people, especially strangers. Even if it is just an elbow in a crowd. I do not mind crowds as long as no one is touching me.
There were certain intimate things that I experienced as an adult that I was quite sure felt familiar, even though I knew for a fact that I had never done such a thing in my adult life.
I do not know if there is a way to prove anything. I tried to talk to my brother about it once, and I told him I thought that the same thing had happened to him too, from the same person and he proceeded to get so very drunk that it frightened me deeply. I have never seen him like that before, it was so scary to see. I realize that I should never have brought it up.
My mother suspected the abuse back then, I remember her asking if anyone had touched me in my “swimsuit” area, but I had not idea what that meant. I remember sometimes feeling wrong, for reasons I could not explain. I felt that doing the bear crawl (walking on hands and feet) or the crab walk (hands and feet going backward) in PE were humiliating. They made me feel vaguely ill.
I know I have all the symptoms of someone who has been sexually abused. I do not have any proof. I am so thankful to the judge that put that family friend away that I sometimes think about writing him an anonymous letter of thanks. That family friend will be locked away for a very, very long time. My own mother was called as a character witness to his trial, though she was not called onto the stand. This was before I was finally able to come to grips with the whole situation. She confided in me that even if she had been called onto the stand she would not have been able to deny that she had her doubts about him, and that she was deeply grateful that she did not have to testify.
Even before the trial took place, I had a conversation with my mom that I was sure that at one time in my early childhood that I had been sexually abused, but I did not know by whom. It was not my father, or my brother, of that I was sure. It was only then that the trial came about, and I thought about the sick feeling that I related to that family sleeping over at our house, and then I read an article that people are often attracted to people who remind them of their abusers, and the fact that dreams and terrors I had were strongest when we first moved away from that town where he lived. Was that why my memories only begin with that new town? I know it has partly to do with the fact that my memories mostly start at age four. Sometimes I wish that I had imagined it all, and it is hard and confusing because I know that it is true. I remember having suicidal thoughts even as early as five, I would pray that “God would make me die” over and over again. I remembering feeling as if I could not for all the world look up from my shoes, as if the weight of the world were on my shoulders. I think the only reason my mother stopped questioning me about the sexual abuse symptoms is that my parents divorced when I was six, and she was distracted by that and began assigning any issues I had to the divorce.