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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Abuse & Assault » Telling about what happened to me

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Author Topic: Telling about what happened to me
healingvibes
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First I wanted to say thank you for such a great site. I stumbled on scarleteen on a web search once and have spent a lot of time reading the wonderful, truthful, and supportive information here. Thank you.

Next, lately I have been trying very hard to work through some childhood sexual abuse and I wanted to put it here first before I try to share this with the counselor I am working with. I have shared what happened to me with very, very few people in my life. And never in specific. I have only shared that I was abused, but no specifics. From what I have read, it seems like it is important to revisit and share. But it has been very difficult (I just recently learned to identify that horrible feeling I was having about it was a very deep running shame, which just seems so unfair that I should be the one ending up feeling ashamed instead of the person who did it.)

But I feel like this board is such a safe and supportive place. And it will be a baby step for me to share the actual things that happened here (on the internet where it is anonymous) with the goal to share them eventually with appropriate people in my life and my counselor.

So, here it goes:
When I was 15 my parents suddenly and violently divorced. It was literally over a weekend that my world totally changed. I went away for the weekend for an educational field trip, my dad had dropped me off. I knew that my parents had been fighting lately, but had no idea about the severity. When I came home, my mom picked me up and told me that my dad had moved out. It was an unexpected shock to me. My mom didnít wait very long after my dad moved out to find a boyfriend. Within months, she was with someone new. Six months after my dad moved out, my parentís divorce was final and literally weeks after my mom was divorced, she married the new guy.

My step-father never had teenagers before. He had been married many times, my mom is either the fourth or fifth wife heís had. He did have children from his other wives, but never actually raised them. So me and my sisters were brand new territory for him. He also had an explosive temper and extremely, extremely critical personality. My mother and he fought constantly. He never physically abused or hit anyone. But because of the extreme volatility, my home became a scary, instable place. We had to walk on egg shells constantly and also experienced continual belittling.

Hereís some of the details:
I think it was really important to my mom to try and make us girls accept her new husband. She used to make us say goodnight to him and give him a goodnight kiss (on the cheek) and hug. We would come into their room, they would already be in bed, and we were on our way to bed. I remember feeling weird about the kiss and hug. And the thing that really, really made me uncomfortable was that many times, he would not zip or button the compartment on his pajama bottoms. His penis would be hanging out and visible to me while I was expected to say goodnight and give him a kiss and a hug.

My step-dad had a habit of taking short naps during the day. He would put his pajamas on, put in ear-plugs, and close out the world for an hour or so. Sometimes my mother would send me into their room to wake him up. I donít remember everything anymore. But I do remember at least once (but probably more) after waking him up, he held me in a very close embrace. He stroked my arms and held me so close like you would hold a lover. I think this happened several times, but I canít be sure. What I do remember is feeling reluctant and scared to go in to wake him, knowing that this would happen. And also remember one time, while he was holding me, that my mother called out upstairs to us. When he heard her voice, he moved so suddenly to let me go, and it let me know that he knew it was wrong and was afraid of being caught.

I have never shared those two things before, with
any one.

The last thing I wanted to share was the event that really made me feel like I had been abused. (I have struggled deeply for many years to allow myself to admit I was abused, that I am not overreacting, that what happened to me was wrong. Lately I read something that helped me to finally stop that internal battle. It said, whether or not you think what happened was sexual abuse, the most important thing is how you felt when it happened. Did you feel abused when it happened? Then it was abuse.

So this is what happened that made me feel like I was abused:

I was very active in debate team activities, which sometimes took place out of town. There was a competition to take place in another town a few hours drive away. My mom arranged for him to drive me there. On the way back, while he was driving, he put his hand on my thigh. He started caressing my leg with his fingers. His hand moved slightly so that it was on my upper thigh. Then his fingers began stroking so closely to my clitoris that I began to become aroused. It bothered me deeply that I was having that reaction, and I felt so out of control.

When we arrived home, we acted like nothing had ever happened. Absolutely no acknowledgement whatsoever.

A couple nights later, I was working as part of the stage crew for a theater presentation, I was in self-destruction mode, drank about 15 cups of coffee, and while I was unlikely to be missed, locked myself in a closet. I sobbed and sobbed. i had never felt that depth of emotion before. Now, I realize I have a major problem dissociating from my feelings. Maybe it started in that little closet.

I canít remember how long it took for me to get up the courage to tell my mom. But it took a lot of courage. I remember thinking, having the expectation that she would have to divorce him and our family would have to go through some major changes as a result of telling her what happened. I felt a little heavy, a burden for the changes that must certainly come to pass as a result of telling my mom.

I can remember sitting at the kitchen table with my mother. I had just told her I had something very important I needed to tell her. She had set aside time and was seated, looking expectantly at me, waiting to hear. I told her what happened. As I detailed, she started to look away. Her eyes took on a distracted glaze. After I had finished, she responded. Her voice seemed to come from somewhere else. She said, ďSometimes people are not aware of their actions. I will tell him to be more careful.Ē The message I heard was, you are overreacting. Nothing happened. It didnít happen. It was in your head. I was shocked. I had expected our lives to be totally turned upside down by my mother divorcing him and protecting me. But I was forced to go on, pretending nothing happened.

I made one other attempt to tell someone about it. Shortly after the conversation with my mother, I wrote a letter to my sister, who was already out of the house at university when my mom remarried (lucky her). I donít know why, but I never sent it.

There is more that I need to write, but for now I canít keep writing. I am very physically and emotionally drained from writing this. The only other thing I need to write right now is about a boyfriend I had shortly after. The reason I want to write about him is to ask if the relationship I had was also sexual abuse or not.

I was 17, he was 36. He was a secret from my parents. No one knew about him. After I turned 18, I got a job across the country and moved there. He happened to have a transfer with his job to the same place. To make a long story short, I ended up living with him. We never had sexual intercourse. We did sleep together and have sexual contact. I was terrified of intercourse. He knew I wasnít ready. He did try many times to move me towards intercourse. He tried several times to penetrate me with his fingers, I felt extremely uncomfortable with it, and each time tell him to stop. He would stop when I asked him to. But I feel like he was really trying to move me in the direction of intercourse. We eventually broke up when I left to attend university in another state.

I had read the information on this site about consent. I am trying to make sense of my relationship with this man in light of what I am learning. Any objective insight on how these two relationships (mystep dad and my older boyfriend) might be related would be appreciated.

Also, I really need help with dealing with these feelings of shame. How can I get through them and not have them any more?

What I do feel is very messed up about sex. I want to get better.

Thanks for listening. I know itís a lot.

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Jacob at Scarleteen
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Hi healingvibes,

Thank you so much for trusting us enough to share this... From what you've said here I feel like you really are doing an incredible job. Especially for someone who hasn't even started working on this abuse in counselling yet.

I would say that what you're doing is already the route to slowly getting better. It is a helpful idea to write these things out when you're planning to speak them. Even your username is 'healingvibes' and those vibes are very much what I'm hearing here.

As per learning to not feel shame, it kinda depends on what sort of therapy you'd pursue if you were to enter into it. I think a useful thing to have learnt for me is that our emotions very often serve a purpose. We might nurture some thoughts to protect ourselves from even more difficult feelings. We might never before had enough time, space and support to face, to understand, and to get used to understanding those feelings differently. I'd say what you're doing here is building that sort of environment for yourself and that is so positive. It isn't a small step and I feel you really should be proud.

As per your boyfriend when you moved out of home. I'd say that does sound like somebody who was pushing your boundaries and from what you're saying was at best very uncaring about your needs. The age gap can introduce a power imbalance too. As a relationship off the back of a previous abuse I really think you could have done without a partner treating you that way. I'm hearing that, for you, that relationship comes under a similar umbrella as your previous abuse and that makes a lot of sense. Just as much as before those situations were not your fault either. I think you should have the same freedom to call it abuse.

Again, I'm really impressed by your willingness to talk about this and just to say 'I want to get better' is something to be very proud of.

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Snorkmaiden
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Hello, Healingvibe,

I'd like to tell you three things, real quick:

- Welcome! We're glad you found us.
- You are not alone. Many others have been through experiences of abuse; I'm one of them. Many of us here will understand you. And we don't mind listening.
- Lastly, the most important thing: Good for you! Good for you, for coming here and telling this story. It's hard, I know, but you did it and that's great. That's a very good thing that you just did for yourself.
I hope you can be a little bit proud of that, because you deserve to be, and I salute you!

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healingvibes
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It's been about a month since I shared this. Sorry I didn't respond to the two of you who replied. I really appreciate your replies and your support.

I did share this in a letter with the counselor I am working with, this and more. I felt pretty horrible. That was a few weeks ago. I had a really rough weekend, feeling really depressed.

We didn't talk about what I wrote to her in the letter for a couple sessions. But last night, finally she tried to get me to talk about it. I felt myself shutting down.

And now I feel even worse than ever. I just want to disappear. This is probably normal, I guess. But it really sucks. I can't concentrate on anything, and I feel physically ill.

Any advice?

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healingvibes
Neophyte
Member # 110502

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It's been about a month since I shared this. Sorry I didn't respond to the two of you who replied. I really appreciate your replies and your support.

I did share this in a letter with the counselor I am working with, this and more. I felt pretty horrible. That was a few weeks ago. I had a really rough weekend, feeling really depressed.

We didn't talk about what I wrote to her in the letter for a couple sessions. But last night, finally she tried to get me to talk about it. I felt myself shutting down.

And now I feel even worse than ever. I just want to disappear. This is probably normal, I guess. But it really sucks. I can't concentrate on anything, and I feel physically ill.

Any advice?

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Snorkmaiden
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Hey there,
So sorry to hear you are having a rough time!
My guess would be that you are feeling bad because you're dealing with hard stuff, and doing that will often cause us to feel crappy. But that doesn't mean that it's not working.

I don't have any real advice for you, except to feel free to come here and vent if you need to. Maybe someone else will have some good ideas. In any case, I know that things suck right now, but that will most likely pass. You are doing your best to work things out, and that's great; it's hard, but it's a very good thing to do.

Every time things get really crappy, come back here and tell us. It may help a bit.

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Redskies
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Hi, healingvibes.

You're right that it's common for people to find things very tough when we first start telling, especially about something that we've been keeping to ourselves for a long time. Basically, we're poking around in something deeply painful: if we think we need to do that, then we probably really do need to, like dealing with an old physical injury that still has gravel stuck in it where the gravel keeps being really painful and being infected and making us ill. We'll feel better after we've removed the gravel, and the area will be able to heal much better without it, but while we're trying to remove the gravel we have an open wound and Goodness it hurts.

It's ok to take this at whatever pace you can manage. If you can't talk with your counsellor yet about what you wrote, I'd just suggest trying to keep them in the loop as much as you can about how you're feeling. Do you feel open to any kind of communication with your counsellor about it? Again, it's ok if you don't. If you did, might it help to ask your counsellor to write an opening response to you and then for you to read it in the session? That might help you to feel more supported about having shared with her, and not have you feel put on the spot about having to respond yourself or take the discussion any further, and give you some safe time and space to process how you feel about her response.

Do try to take a lot of care of yourself - be extra-kind to yourself. What things in your everyday life help you feel a little comforted, safe, or just like nice or pampering things? I know it can be even hard identifying things like that just now, as everything can feel so upside-down, but see what you think might help. Also, do you have kind and supportive people in your everyday life or who you can get in contact with? You don't have to share anything you don't want, you could simply say that you're working through something hard and you're feeling raw, and that spending time or talking with someone who cares about you and understands you're not at your best right now would help a lot.

Does that sound helpful to you? We're also happy to support you in whatever way we can.

--------------------
The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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healingvibes
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Thank you redskies and snorkmaiden. Kind words mean so much to me. And support, especially since in my life right now there is no one who knows what I am doing with this right now. That might be the hardest part, is facing all this again, all by myself.

And I know it doesn't have to be that way. I should be able to open up and find someone to tell or to let in to that part of myself that no one sees. But it is too scary for me, and I feel absolutely petrified at the thought, which I think is what happened with my counselor.

I couldn't even tell her, I just sent her the letter with everything, and I mean everything. I did it this way on purpose, I knew that I couldn't stop it or take it back once I hit the send button. I know I needed to tell someone, and she is the most logical choice, she is supposed to be helping me get healthy.

She is sensitive, and we work well together. But the last time what froze me was that she wanted me to share my story with my husband. She was very careful not to tell me what I should do, she never does that, only tries to help me come to the conclusions myself. (which at times, this can be frustrating, but I know this is a proper thing for a counselor to be doing). But she kept digging and trying to get me to think of what part of the story I could share first, and how sharing would improve his understanding of me, and how it would change the message I am sending to him from being, "I'm fine, I can handle it" to "I need you".

I originally started counseling as couple counseling to help my marriage, which was going to pot. I am older than the target audience for Scarleteen, I am not a teenager anymore. I am married, even with a young baby. But I felt so safe here, the first place I've found that I've felt so safe. So I hope nobody minds me being here, even though I am not a teenager.

So that's one of the things that is really bothering me. Its the absolute sheer fear of intimacy. I found an article on scarleteen that talks about intimacy, I can't tell you how much I appreciate your resources here.

I had my counseling session on Thursday night. On Friday, I told my husband I was sick, I couldn't get out of bed. Really, I was thinking about how much better it would be if I just killed myself. (Don't worry, I am not going to do anything. Its just a way to escape. I couldn't and wouldn't do it.)

I agree, redskies, I think I really need to find someone who I can trust who I can just tell that I am having a hard time. I think that would help a lot.

I hope it gets better. I really hope it gets better.

Thanks again for your responses.

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Redskies
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I'm glad this place feels safe to you and that you're finding our materials helpful. Too, just so you know, we exist to serve people 13 to 25, so with the birth date you registered with, this Is your place. (People older than our target age-group are welcome too; we simply ask that they stick to topics within our scope and relevant to people 13-25, and that they understand that people 13-25 have priority here.)

I absolutely guarantee it gets better.

I think it was very brave of you to write what you did here and to share it, and more, with your counsellor. That was a huge step to take all at once, and I do find it unsurprising that some parts of you are clearly needing a little time to catch up before you can take it any further. When someone who was supposed to care for us and instead made us unsafe, and someone who was supposed to keep us safe but did not support us when we told them, it usually becomes very tough indeed to feel safe enough to tell people even when we think it will help us.

I hear you that it's very hard feeling alone with something like this. I wonder if you'd be interested in any resources for survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and if your counsellor has suggested any to you? Some people feel a lot less alone if they can connect with other survivors, either in person or online, or even if they simply read about other survivors online or in books. Is any of that something you might be interested in? We'd be happy to make suggestions and recommendations to you if you were.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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healingvibes
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Thanks redskies.

I would be interested in resources. Especially ones that are online. My husbands job has us posted overseas. So I am very isolated. I have no family or friends nearby. I meet with my counselor over Skype, she is in the USA where I am originally from. She hasn't given me any suggestions for resources, but I think if I could find a group it would help me not feel so alone. Thank you

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Redskies
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Sure.

One place online that we can recommend to you is Pandys http://www.pandys.org/ They have both an extensive list of resources about different things connected to sexual abuse or assault, and a community section that might really fit your need to connect with other people in a safe, supported way about this.

Of course, you are very welcome to keep talking with us here.

--------------------
The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

Posts: 1786 | From: Europe | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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