I want to share my story to help bring awareness to something that has greatly impacted my life for three decades. Sexual abuse is something that you can overcome with a lot of hard work. If I can do it, you can do it!
I really want to start by saying that I'm not out to "get" the person who abused me. I don't want to hurt him in any way or make him feel badly. I've completely forgiven him.
I'm not bitter.
But I do want to share my story because it's been a really long 30 years for me and it has affected so much of my life. Since child sexual abuse is so rampant, 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of it, chances are you or someone you know is working through this. (Source) I hope my story can help you understand what your loved one may be going through still.
Something that is innate to me as a person is a desire for connections and friendships. If you remember, I've talked about how making friends was really difficult for me as a kiddo.
I was 5-years-old when this all started. That's kindergarten age.
Picture this: I was the world's most annoying little kid. I was very hard to be around. I was impulsive and would do things for negative attention because even negative attention was attention--things like flushing your contacts down the toilet if you came to visit. I was hard to love. I didn't have many friends even though connecting with people was the one thing I wanted most. So, when a young teenage boy who was close to our family came to live with us during the summer and wanted to give me attention, it was a recipe for disaster. I was an easy victim and he was the "picture-perfect" teen.
I remember that he would do some babysitting for my parents while he stayed with us. I was the oldest of three girls. I was 5. I had a 3-year-old sister, and an infant sister. I remember watching my parents' station wagon leave the driveway and this young teen telling me to take of my pajamas.
Even as I am writing this--three decades later--I feel an extreme amount of guilt and embarrassment and SHAME. I still feel like a bad person. Every day of my life, I battle feeling badly about myself and feeling like a bad person. I've been to therapy about all this but these feelings of shame are still here. I always think people are going to think less of me because this happened in my life. I hope you'll read this with non-judgmental eyes and learn from my experiences.
I think the reason why I feel so embarrassed about it is because I remember thinking that it was exciting and naughty. It felt good.
Again, I was a kindergartener. I knew way too much as a 5 -year-old.
He took advantage of me every summer for three years.
When I was 8 years old, I told him that I didn't want to do it any more. I realized that things were weird, that it wasn't normal behavior. He would always try to get me to go into bathrooms with him and I started to see how it was just too weird. So, it stopped.
Here's the kicker: I didn't know I was molested until I was in my 20s.
I was at work one day when I read this article about a little boy who had been sexually molested by his babysitter at age 2. As I was reading about this little boy's experience, a light clicked on in my mind and I thought, "I was molested!" Literally, I kid you not, I had no idea I had been abused. For 20 years I thought I was just a bad and naughty person. I had so much guilt that I didn't process and just hid away. TWENTY YEARS. For 20 years I thought I was horrible for what I did when I was 5. That's a heavy thing for a 5-year-old to carry around. It has affected me PROFOUNDLY.
Soon after I realized what had happened to me, I told my mom. I will never forget the look of complete heartbreak on her face. My parents confronted my abuser. He was a very successful and respected member of the community who seemed to have everything going for him. He denied it at first but then he called my dad back and admitted to everything.
Then the real work of healing took place on my end. Unpacking what happened to me in therapy. Forgiving him. Working on forgiving myself.
It's such a powerful and freeing thing to completely and honestly forgive someone. The funny thing is, I have not forgiven myself. And really, I don't know how. I still fight those feelings of being bad and unloveable. I still feel shame about it.
It's something I continue to work on.
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) offers an online hotline as well as a telephone crisis line. If you are in crisis or need to help someone who is, call RAINN now at (800) 656-HOPE. Most cities also offer rape crisis centers, which offer support, information, and counseling to survivors.
To find your local center, click here.
In addition to the tools I talked about above, I've also found a combination of essential oils to help my negative thoughts and uplift my mood. If you've never tried essential oils before, please send me a message and I will get you a sample of my favorites to try on your journey of healing.