Tag Archives: Memories

I’m sorry for my hypocrisy

I'm sorry for my hypocrisy

I haven’t always been so true,

No one knows this more than you.

When your child was abused too,

I said, “This is what you should do.”

 

“You should definitely speak out!”

My words becoming a shout.

You should’ve given me a clout

And said, “Go sort yourself out.”

 

For yet, and all the while,

I was drowning in denial,

That though I continued to smile,

I was protecting a paedophile.

 

You slowly drifted away,

Saying, ‘’”We’re much too busy today,

For the kids to come and play.”

Our friendship was in decay.

 

In the intervening years,

I have shed so many tears,

For my cynicism and sneers,

Arising from my inner fears.

 

I miss you with a passion,

My heart and soul are ashen,

But not for my inaction,

We would still have interaction.

 

So, here for all to see,

Is my full apology,

For the person I used to be,

And my ignorant hypocrisy.

I just want to be normal

I Just want to be normal

I Just want to be normal

“I just want to be normal!” 

If only I had a dollar for every time I have said this, or any of its many variations, because I would be Rich, Rich, Rich – yes, Rich with a capital R!

My diaries are filled with this statement, along with “Why can’t I just be normal?”  “Why can’t I be like everyone else?” “If only I was normal!”

Guess what?  For what I had experienced in life, I was normal.  I was, and am, just like everyone else who has experienced some form of major trauma as a child.  The hell I have experienced while healing is the same hell others experience while they heal.  Yet, all the while, I just wanted to be normal.

What is ‘normal’ anyway?

For me, it was ‘normal’ for my father to have sex with me.  It’s just what he did.  It was ‘normal’ to never know from one minute to the next if there was a belting waiting for me when the next minute arrived.  It was ‘normal’ to not know from moment to moment if I was ‘loved’ or hated by my father.  It was ‘normal’ to show the world I was ‘normal’ according to society’s stereotypical standards, while at the same time asking myself why I couldn’t be ‘normal’.

The first time I remember verbalising that I was not normal was when I was 12.  My brother and I had been fighting, as we always did if ever we were in each other’s company for more than 30 seconds.  We were home alone and during the fight my brother had grabbed a large kitchen knife and started chasing me with it.  Eventually he caught me and knocked me to the ground.  As he held the knife to my throat I practically begged him to kill me.  I told him that he should do it because the world would be a better place without me because I wasn’t normal and should be in the ‘looney bin’ anyway.

He didn’t kill me.  In fact, telling him this had the opposite effect, and he helped me up off the ground and said, “No it wouldn’t Sis.”

My brother was 10 at the time.

It wasn’t until I started to understand what I experienced emotionally and psychologically was normal for people who live through child sexual abuse that I started to recognise how I continued verbally abusing myself.  I had fully taken on the role of abuser through my inner voice, telling myself I was useless, stupid, abnormal, crazy.  I came to believe, absolutely, that I was insane.

My only ‘insanity’ was the inability to process my trauma in a way that would release it, rather than relive it.

The process is long, slow, and unbelievably painful.  It cannot be expressed in words.  It is a very lonely road, because although you may be lucky enough to have a ‘support system’ unless those around you have experienced exactly what you have experienced, there is no way they can comprehend what you are going through.  Every moment of healing feels like you have to fight your way, kicking and screaming, to find even enough air to breathe, let alone find the strength to function in any ‘normal’ capacity.

For a while I didn’t want to be normal.  I craved complete loss of function.  I thought it an exceptionally cruel twist of fate that, although there were days when all I could manage was to pull the covers up and a pillow over my head, I was still able to hold down a job, be a mother, be a partner, and work on my healing all at the same time.  I envied people who could just withdraw from life completely.

In hindsight, I am glad I was able to keep going, even if it was in a reduced capacity.  I did withdraw from the world, but not completely.  I did want to die so very badly – but I didn’t.

So, am I ‘normal’?  According to some, I am not.  According to others, I am.  According to myself?  I don’t always conform to society’s norms, but I am not a complete deviate either – I am me – and for ‘me’ I am normal.

Peer support through blogging

Peer Support

Peer Support

One of my reasons for returning to study is that I would like to set up an organisation whose sole purpose is peer support for adults (both women and men) who experienced abuse as a child.

After making the decision to take action instead of remaining silent, I sought answers to all the questions I had about going through the legal process, as well as general questions relating to whether I was ‘normal’.  I wanted to know, for instance, what happened during the legal process, how I could help ensure the safety of my step-mother, how I could help ensure the safety of others at risk from my father, how do you write a victim impact statement, how do I keep functioning when all I want to do is fall into oblivion…

First I approached one of the most prominent organisations in Queensland for victims of child sexual abuse.  Their reply was, “I’m so sorry to hear about what you have been through, and particularly what has happened for you and your family recently. Breaking the silence about child sexual assault is very difficult for victims and dealing with the impacts of this takes a lot of courage…” which sounded promising, but they then went on to advise they were unable to assist me, and had I heard of this other organisation that was based interstate.

On contacting the said interstate organisation, I was again advised, “sorry, we can’t help you.”

I was blessed to have one of the most amazing human beings, in the form of a detective, looking after my case, and following his suggestion, I contacted an organisation that supports victims of crime.  I received a number of fact sheets in the mail that contained all the information I was already aware of, and no specific information that could help me find the answers I was looking for.

I felt totally alone.

Yet again it seemed as though I was going to have to fight hard to get through the living hell I was experiencing, and to do it under my own steam and initiative.  I was so tired of fighting.

I was extremely lucky to have a circle of family and friends that supported me, but there was only so much they could do.  Unfortunately, they were as much in the dark about what was happening and what was coming my way as I was.  I knew no-one who had already ‘been there’ to help guide me and keep me in touch with my sanity.

At my lowest point, my partner quite strongly advised I should call Lifeline.  Very reluctantly, I did.

For an hour there was a person, a total stranger, at the other end of the phone, trying to help me hang on to the small thread of strength inside me that wanted to live.

The degree of difficulty in telling my story, yet again, to a total stranger, can not be described in words – it is something you have to experience to really understand.  However, I am so glad that I managed it, and I am ever so grateful to that person who did not judge me, who did not tell me I was stupid for wanting to die, and who helped me onto the path of understanding just how much I really wanted to live.

Within hours of that conversation, I received a call from a family member who was having severe difficulties of their own.  My immediate reaction was to go to their aid.  My partner was concerned about me doing so, given that only hours before he had taken me to the hospital in a suicidal state.

What I came to understand, however, was that helping other people also helped me.  Listening to their perspective helped me see my problems from a different point of view.  Understanding how they were impacted by the environment I grew up in allowed me to start putting the pieces of me back together.

From this small beginning, I became determined that one day I would create an organisation that would not turn people away if they needed someone to talk to.  A safe place in which people could share their stories and help each other help themselves.  Somewhere people could contact others who had similar experiences that could shed some light on how you get through it – can you really get out of the darkness?

This organisation is still my dream.  Every day I am working towards it.

What I am finding, however, is that there is already an amazing peer support circle in existence – it can be found through blogging!

There are some incredibly courageous souls out there who are breaking the silence and sharing their experiences in online blogs.  Some are just starting the healing journey, some are in the deepest depths of darkness, and others are emerging on the other side of ‘hell’ and finding there really is light in the world after all.

The stories that I read, the people I converse with, and the information I am gathering has been amazing.  Strong, brave, men and women, are already out there, selflessly and unconsciously providing peer support for others.

You are all my unsung heroes, and I salute you!  Please keep writing, no matter how alone you feel, because I assure you, you are not alone, and the things that you write about are, and have been, experienced by others.  Your blogs not only help break the silence, they provide hope for others along the way.

Acknowledging the pain of others

Growing through pain

Growing through pain

People like me, who write about their experiences of child sexual abuse, do not intentionally set out to cause other people pain.  Unfortunately, however, we do.

When we are lucky enough to have people in our lives who are supportive, and willing to try to understand the impact of what we have lived through, it is sometimes difficult to balance the work of creating awareness and the desire not to hurt those we care about and who care about us.

Some may call us insensitive, or selfish, in our desire/need to speak out.  Personally, I am not insensitive to the pain I cause.  I know it is there.  It hurts me to know it is the result of my actions.  However, I do not deliberately set out to hurt people.

Why do I write?

I write because I have to write.  Writing is something I have done for most of my life, although until 2010, all of my writing was in secret.  During the darkest period of healing, from 2011 until recently, I tried to keep my writing hidden and yet still raise awareness of the long-term impacts of child-sexual abuse.  I did this because I know what I write can cause pain to people close to me.

Why did I have to ‘come out’?

Trying to write as someone else, using a fake name, and fake persona, really starts messing with your head.  Particularly when you have spent two and a half solid years smashing down the barriers and vowing to break the silence.  I found myself questioning my ethics and my values.  There I was, telling all and sundry about how important it was to speak out, but hiding my true identity.  I started to feel like I used to – that I had to have a face that I showed the world, and another that had to be hidden at all costs.  There was no integrity in that.

If I wanted to be true to me, and put my money where my mouth was, so to speak, I had to make a decision to either back off and remain silent, or be truly open and honest.

Honesty won.

The flip-side of this, of course, is now those close to me are confronted with my writing on a day-to-day basis.  The end result is pain.

Why do I have to write about child sexual abuse?

There are a couple of reasons for this – first, I write what I know.  It is so much easier for me to write from experience than to write from imagination.  Tied in with this, is the healing writing brings for me.  Yes, even my short stories are generally dark, but usually it is because something inside me needs to be fixed and it just appears on the page in front of me.

Second, I write about child sexual abuse to raise awareness – not that child sexual abuse happens, but that the impacts of repeated trauma as a child never go away – they do lessen in strength, but they NEVER go away.

Third, I write about child sexual abuse because I know that while I sit here, in my comfy chair, in a warm and cosy house, with all of my basic needs met, there are children being sexually abused, beaten, neglected, sold into prostitution, and having all sorts of other horrendous things done to them at this very moment.  I cannot sit here in silence.  Awareness needs to be raised.  Something needs to be done, and all I can do at this point in time is write.

Children are so very precious.

I am sorry for the pain I cause.  I am sorry that the things I write also brings back bad memories for you.  However, to those close to me, there are some  things I would like to say:

  • You are not responsible for what happened to me.  The person who abused me – the person that could have chosen not to abuse me – is no longer with us, but it is important to understand that the responsibility for what happened was his, and his alone.  The rest of us have been involuntarily caught up in the consequences of his behaviour.  Do not blame yourself.
  • I am well.  I know the last few years have seen me crash to the deepest depths, but right here, right now, today, I am well, and I have been for some months now.
  • Just because I write about what happened to me does not mean it is the only thing I think about – it no longer consumes me the way that it did.
  • The past cannot be changed – it is what it is.  All we can do is enjoy the here and now, and have hope for the future.  My way of doing that is by sharing my experiences.  You never know, someone else might find them useful.

I am truly grateful for the support I have around me.  Knowing that I hurt them is not a nice feeling.  If I could wave a magic want to erase it, I would.  For now, all I can do is love the people around me and support them as they have supported me.

My heartfelt thanks to the ‘inner circle’ who have seen me at my worst and are hanging in there to see me at my best.  I love you all from the bottom of my heart.

Moving

Moving

A moving story

Four days!  Four whole days!  Can you believe it?

I was relaxing by the window, just enjoying the view, when suddenly I was locked in a car.  I had no idea where I was going.  I couldn’t get out.  I had no room to run.  The car was jam-packed with stuff.  Stuff!

I cried.  I howled.  I expressed my unhappiness is so many ways.

The first day was not too bad.  It was a relatively short journey.  I was so excited when the car stopped.  I thought I’d have a chance to escape, but it wasn’t to be.  I was locked in a bathroom!  A bathroom!  You’ve got to be kidding?

No light.  No company.  Just me, the cold floor tiles, a shower and a toilet.  I was given a pillow to lie on, but what was the point?  I scratched at the door.  I cried some more.  Let me out!

Eventually I collapsed from exhaustion.

I saw the sun through the bars on the window the next morning.  I hoped to be going home.  She was talking to me through the door.  Telling me everything was going to be okay.  I didn’t believe her.

I was locked in the car once more.  I had no idea where we were going or how long it would take.  It seemed like forever.

The car stopped.  I was manhandled and told to go to the toilet.  Excuse me?   The indignity!  I didn’t need to go, well, I did, but I wasn’t going to urinate on command.

Back in the car.  Hours and hours and hours went by.  The light began to fade as the sun went down.  Again I was dragged out of the car and dumped in a small room.  At least it wasn’t a bathroom, I guess.

This time there was a comfy bed.  Some nice food, and some milk.  I still cried.  I still voiced my disapproval.  I just wanted to go home.  Why was she doing this to me?

Day three and it was back in the car.  I was too drained to fight.  The heat was unbearable.  I was panting like a dog.  A dog, of all things!  She stopped the car and put a rope around my neck.  She took me to a river.  I froze.  Petrified she was going to drown me in it.  I couldn’t move.  I didn’t know what to do.  The heat!  The flies! 

I didn’t drown, but I almost wish I had.  Back in the car!  This time I just hid.  I buried myself under all of the stuff.  Who cared about the heat?  I didn’t want to know.

Another small room as the sun went down.  Another bed, but not so comfy.  I slid under the covers and curled up tight.  I just hoped this would all end soon.

Day four.  She was excited.  Her voice became shrill.  It was painful to hear.  She was waffling about how great it was going to be.  Great?  Locked in a car for days on end?  What planet was this being on?  This was the furthest thing from great I could think of.  How dare she drag me away from home?  How dare she keep me from escaping?  How dare she even think that I would enjoy this?

The car stopped.  “We’re here!” she shrieked.

Where’s ‘here’?  What?  A house?

My confused mind had been addled by the trip.  I no longer knew where I was, what day it was, and I almost forgot who I was. 

Four days!  Four whole days!  It took four days to get here – to my new home. 

Accept the bad but enjoy the good

Enjoy the good

Enjoy the good

After pouring out a number of posts relating to the negative, I felt it was time to add a little balance, but this post didn’t turn out quite the way I expected.

For incest kids, life is not always 100% bad stuff – there is usually some good stuff mixed with the bad during the growing years, because families generally have good times and bad times.  This is what makes it so hard for us, because as children we do not have the mental capacity to distinguish between what is good and what is bad, everything just ‘is’.

I might need to explain that a little better.

When you are an incest kid, there are times when you are just a kid, like any other kid, playing games, being silly, sometimes even having fun.  Other times you are not a kid, because you are forced into a quasi-adult role by your abuser.  Still other times, you don’t know what you are.  Overall, however, as an incest kid, the abuse is a ‘normal’ part of your life.  Generally you have been groomed, ever so slowly, from the day you were born, and desensitised to things that ‘society’ believes you should be alarmed by.

I can remember the daughter of a friend of my father, telling me her daddy let her play with his penis.  I was about eleven at the time, and my thoughts were “doesn’t everybody’s?”

According to the rules of society, this girl’s ‘confession’ should have shocked me – it didn’t.  The reason it didn’t, is because such incidents were a normal part of my life.

It is societal norms, I believe, that also cause ‘us’ (incest kids) increased psychological stress as we get older.  Why didn’t you say anything?  Why didn’t you tell someone?  How can you still have anything to do with your father?  How can you love your family?

It continues when you do finally break the silence.  How could you do that to your father?  How could you do that to the family?  Why are you doing this to us?

The little jibes are seemingly endless, and they all plant seeds of doubt in our minds about the type of people we are.  They add to the confusion of trying to reconcile the monster parent with the human parent.

Personally, I have some wonderful memories of my childhood – my mum’s fresh-baked bread, going camping, spending holidays with my grandparents.  It becomes confusing, however, when the person that hurts you most is also one of the people who is supposed to nurture you the most, so when I try to think of the good things in my childhood, most of them are now tainted because I can see how my father was using them to manipulate me.

Life now is not just about the abuse and recovery – for a while it was, but these days I try to live, not just exist.

Sometimes the bad stuff impacts on, and even takes over, the good stuff.  I can be having a great afternoon with my partner and a group of friends when out of the blue I am knocked for six by a song that’s playing in the background, or someone might inadvertently say or do something that to others means nothing, but to me, it takes me right back ‘there’.

One of the most important things I have learnt, however, is to appreciate the good stuff when it is good, and allow the bad stuff to surface if it must, acknowledge that it is there, but let it just pass on.  I don’t have to ‘deal’ with it right then and there.  I don’t have to analyse it straight away.  I can just acknowledge its presence but return to it later when I am safe and stable.

Life is way too short to cling desperately to the bad stuff.  You have to embrace, value, and enjoy the good stuff along the way.

Being true, being vulnerable

Being true, being vulnerable

Being true, being vulnerable

I am currently working on an ethics assignment for my Bachelor Degree, and although I am having difficulty with all the theorising and waffle, it has had me thinking about how we make decisions and be true, or authentic, to ourselves.

Being true, unfortunately, also has the consequence of being vulnerable.

In 2010, on receiving confirmation that my father had abused a fourth victim, one much younger who had been abused much more recently than the other three, I felt I had been forced into a dilemma – do I remain silent, or do I take action?  Typical of all dilemmas, I had the capacity to choose either option, but only one of them.  Both choices had severe consequences attached.

Although my journey towards speaking out had, in hindsight, begun much earlier than the catalytic phone call I received, it was not until during that phone that I took the first step that really left me no option but to act.  you see, it was only during that phone call, that I actually stood up and said, “What about me?  What about what I have been through?  What about my life?”  It from these three small statements that I came to understand that for the previous thirty-eight years I had believed I, me, did not matter.  Whatever had happened to me didn’t matter, because it was just me.  Whatever my father had done to me did not matter, because it was just me.  Whenever anyone told me I was volatile, volcanic, miserable etc., did not matter, because it was just me.

I cried, really cried, for the first time that night – for me, for the little girl I had been, for all the things I had lost and could never get back, for the others that I knew my father had abused, and for the desperate hopelessness that had followed me all of my life.  Crying left me exhausted, but that exhausted state gave me time to think about my father’s life at that moment.  He still had regular and prolonged access to young girls in what appeared to be his target age group.  His wife (not my mother) had a number of nieces that would visit and stay at their house, their friends had young girls who would visit and stay at their house, and his family had young girls who, although at that time too young, would one day hit that ‘golden’ age and who would visit and stay at their house.  What was I going to do about that?

My options, as I saw them was to do nothing and stay silent, to confront my father directly, or to make a stand and go to the police.

Doing nothing really wasn’t an option.  I was already feeling guilt, because if I had spoken out sooner, the other three victims may have been saved.  This was no longer just about me.  Confronting my father directly, I felt, was not an option, because it did not guarantee the safety of those young girls he still had regular contact with.  That left going to the police.

I had first seen a counsellor when I was twenty-one – I had been almost literally dragged their by a co-worker because I had a ‘melt down’ (now known to be a panic attack) at work one day, and I had blurted some of the story out to her in the bathroom.  Anyway, that counsellor told me that because I was twenty-one, if I didn’t make a complaint to the police at that time, I would never be able to.  Being in crisis at the time, I was in no fit state to make any major decisions, so i never made a complaint to the police.

So, twenty-odd years on, when the only choice I seemed to be to take action and go to the police, I remembered that first counselling session, and thought there was nothing I could do.

I already had plans to pick my friend up from the hospital the following morning, so, after a sleepless night I tried explain what had happened and what I was thinking to my somewhat bewildered partner, I collected my friend and we have breakfast together at a cafe near the hospital.  I explained to my friend what had happened the previous night, telling him for the first time about what had happened to me as a child.  I explained how I felt I only had three choices, and how two of those were not really an option.  We sat for an hour, him listening, me talking.  Then, he said he would support me in whatever I decided to do.  He suggested, however, that I should consider those young girls who may currently be in danger of my father.

I was already beginning to focus my thoughts along those lines, but I was terrified of actually doing something, of going to the police and putting into motion who-knows-what type of consequences.

My friend was very aware that I am an ‘if-it’s-meant-to-be-it-will-be’ type of person, so he suggested that we stop at the first police station on the way to his place, and if it didn’t feel right, we could stop at the next one etc.

I don’t know how many stations we drove past that morning, but we got to the very last station and I knew it was now or never.  We walked to the door and immediately I was drawn to a poster that had my birthday on it (good sign), then we walked inside and there were posters everywhere about protecting children from sexual abuse (good sign), then I rang the bell on the counter and waited for an officer to arrive.  When he did I almost ran back out the door!  It took me five minutes to say, “I need to talk to someone – my father sexually abused me as a child.”

As luck would have it (or fate, or the Universe, or God, or whatever), the Child Protection Officer just happened to be at that particular station, at that moment (GOOD sign).

That momentous step was my first public acknowledgement of me being true to myself.  It didn’t matter if I was going to be killed.  It didn’t matter what anyone thought.  It didn’t matter if the world was going to disintegrate into a thousand different pieces.  All that mattered was that I was making a stand and saying, “I WILL NOT BE SILENT ANY LONGER.  I WILL NOT PROTECT CHILD ABUSERS.  I WILL NOT LET MY INACTION LEAD TO ANOTHER CHILD BEING ABUSED!”  And yes, it felt like I was screaming it from every fibre of my being.

Since then, I have been learning every day how to be true to me, to my values, and to what I think is morally right.  I do still find myself saying and doing things that aren’t ‘really’ me – for example, in a recent conversation with a friend I made a comment about how we might not have a ‘normal’ friendship.  She responded by saying, “It seems pretty normal to me.”  This made me stop and look at what I had said – did I think it was abnormal?  No.  Then why did I say that?  Because I was still holding onto someone else’s idea of friendship that was masquerading as my own.  Time to get rid of that and embrace my own ideas, thank you.

So, how does all this make me vulnerable?

Being true makes me vulnerable because I can no longer use the excuse that these are not my thoughts, that these are not my feelings, that these are not my beliefs.  I am putting myself out there in the world, and that’s quite scary.  For so long, I didn’t matter, but I do matter, and every day I have to prove that by being ME.  For so long, I believed everyone hated me, so by being me, and putting myself out there, I have to be able to accept that others may disagree with me, and might not even like me, but that’s okay because I am who I am, and if someone doesn’t like me, it’s no reflection on me as much as a reflection of them and their values, their morals, and their beliefs.

As long I am being true, being honest, behaving with integrity, and being open and vulnerable, that is all that can be asked of me.