1. Were you silenced by someone? How?
I think my abusers made an effort to keep me quiet but I don't remember any specific threats. I do remember they told me it was my fault, that I deserved it, that they had the right to do it because of this or that. I believed them, and I didn't believe. I believed other people would see it their way, I guess you could say, they did convince me that, at best, talking would get me into more trouble than it would them. I just had a feeling I would get tbe blame.
I was also silenced by my relationship with my parents, in that my dad punished me using the same line - "You deserve this, I have the right to do this" - and that line of logic felt just as wrong with him as with them. In both situations there was a part of me that was just sure they were wrong, that what they were doing was wrong, but at the same time everyone seemed to agree with their assessment and not mine. I was about five when this all started, maybe six, just starting to seriously wonder if maybe my version of reality wasn't the real one.
But since they seemed to be coming from the same place as my dad, even if they didn't tell me I'd get in trouble if I talked, I think I would have been silent. From my perspective my dad was always flipping out over things I said, his reaction was very unpredictable and he was outraged by things I thought innocuous, and my mom always took his side, so I didn't tell them much of anything every anyhow.
2. Have other, beside the abuser, betrayed you? (In relation to your abuse?)
The first incident of CSA, my best friend (a guy a year or so older than me) got me into it. I don't think he realized exactly what they had in mind, but he was using me to "get in with the older boys". He stayed after they had me pinned down and were poking at my private parts, but I don't consider him an abuser any more because I don't think he really went in knowing what was going to happen and I don't remember him having anything to do with what followed. Plus he was maybe seven years old.
And when he accidentally hit me in the head with a rock later during a rock fight I ran through, I think a great part of his repentence and sorrow was over setting me up to be abused, I guess. We stuck together fairly well until my family moved out of state when I was seven but the friendship was never the same. He didn't shun me but it wasn't right from his end, either.
After an incident of adult SA, the only one I ever talked about (actually, the guy talked first, pushed me into talking), I felt betrayed because. even though the guy who did it called it rape
, my friends kept insisting it must have been a misunderstanding, that I must have sent mixed signals or something. The guy who was there said he knew full well I didn't want it, but my friends still tried to convince me otherwise. <_< I dunno if that's really betrayal, though. Sure felt like it was.
3. Did you "tell" people in a way other then words about your abuse? (anorexia, withdrawing etc)
I always thought I hid it well but my mom told me a few years back that she knew I was closing my parents out when I was five or six and never knew why. I'm 46 and still haven't told her much, although I did tell about the one incident my friend was involved in. The thought of discovery terrified me; even when part of me wanted someone to know the fear was stronger than the wanting. I often wanted to self-harm but didn't because I was afraid it would be noticed and then people would start asking questions.
4. "The damage of betrayal is deepening the conviction that relationships can neither be enjoyed, trusted, nor expected to last" Do you agree with that statement? Why or why not?
I do agree with it, although I don't argue that the damage is life long - it can be healed, at least when it comes to certain people. I was always okay with friendships until they hit a certain point of closeness, then I'd shut down. My closest friends do not necessarily know a lot about me, but they accept me and appreciate a certain level of distance and formality. For instance, my best friend and I in high school would read together - not the same book - on sleep overs as much or more as we talked. We were close because we accepted the distance we both needed, somehow. I have never had a close friend who would pry, I have always had to have complete control over what I share and what I reveal.
The odd thing is, that while I find it hard to relax and enjoy relationships, and expect them to end quickly, I don't always expect to be betrayed. When I first got married I was sure my husband was going to leave me; the past five years or so, now that it's clear to me that'll never happen, I've been convinced he's going to die early.
What unnerves me is that I have been faced with all my greatest fears in my life, and that fear he'll die is rapidly moving to the top of the list. :o
5. How do you see yourself now?
For years I saw myself as wrong, bad, fundamentally flawed, misdesigned from the git go, just wrong
, which is a totally inadequate word for the depth of the wrongness I feel but there is no word or concept that can convey it. Worthless, so profoundly worthless, but not just worthless because I didn't and couldn't perform to expectations - worthless because I was not what was wanted in the first place. Wothless because I was never right, ever, and there was no hope of ever being right; my greatest hope was of being replaced. The best thing I could do would be to die because I was somehow blocking out the person who should have been there by my own existence, only I was forbidden to kill myself because only God has the right to decide when you die, so I was doomed to a lifetime of being a negation, a negative, a barrier to what was right.
Even at best, I saw myself as out of kilter and weird. Now, the more I research it and particularly since coming to Pandy's, I've begun to realize I'm pretty normal, almost average, for someone with my background.
Everyone reacts to SA and CSA in their own way, but there are patterns I fit into. Understanding dissociation clarified huge amounts of my personality, explained why I react to so many things as I do, helped lessen my frustration and anger with myself for the way I reacted to things because I realized it's how my brain works and not some bizarre self-sabotage thing going on. So now I guess I see myself as human, in the process of healing, rather than as this foul blot blocking the way of good things.
6. Have you begun to tell others about your abuse? What have your experiences been like?
I've not told many outside of Pandy's, and what I've told isn't much. My husband has a rough idea of what I've dealt with, and knew from the first about some of it (we were engaged less than a month after the last SA). His response has ranged from taking advantage of my weak spots to very supportive, depending on how well he's doing (he's got issues
). Mostly, however, he's been supportive, and he hates himself when he takes advantage - I only freeze up in sexual situations; I can usually challenge the guy after, and generally do....
I've told a few friends in a very vague way and they've been supportive in the general, "You're a good person who didn't deserve this" sort of way but don't want to hear about it, sometimes adding the, "you should get counseling" bit.
But considering the nature of my friendships, I don't have a problem with that. I told my parents about the first incident of CSA, which was the most minor, and my mom got all fussed so I haven't bothered talking to them about any of the rest of it, but don't really want to, either. It's none of their business and there's nothing they can do about it except feel badly and like they'd failed me, so I don't see much point to it. I have confronted them on issues related to the CSA without mentioning the CSA, and their response as been fairly positive and supportive, in that they recognize they didn't do so well sometimes instead of laying all the blame on me. Which is a major step up from their attitudes at the time.
I want to change the world for the sake of others, so that abuse won't be so common, but I don't see where my talking about my own experience will do that. I think getting out information on how the brain works and stuff like that is the best angle of approach for me - others talk about their own experiences and that's great, but it's just not my thing. At this point I think I would have no problem saying I was abused or raped if the issue came up in conversation, so in that sense I'm willing to be public about the bare facts of it, but beyond that I really don't care to share.
7. Do you trust others?
Not a trusting soul, nope. It takes a long time to get my trust, and that trust is easily broken. I still don't completely trust my hubby after knowing him for twenty years, although admittedly there's a sense where he's betrayed me more than once due to his own limitations. OTOH, I know and understand his limitations, and I can see how he's changed and grown, and he's probably worthy of my profound trust at this point but I just can't give it. I don't trust guys if there's the remotest
possibility they might be sexually attracted to me. I don't trust people who remind me of my abusers, who have similar interests, even though I recognize this is pure prejudice on my part. I don't trust people who remind me of my dad, ditto. I have huge trust issues when it comes to anyone in authority, which I handle mostly by avoiding authorities.
And even when I do not specifically distrust
someone, I'm not likely to share much, risk much.
Do you trust yourself?
Where I think I'm trustworthy.
I have a fair graps of my limitations at this point, I think, so it's easier to trust myself than it used to be.