After many years of silently struggling and hiding my trauma from enduring sexual abuse and mental abuse, I decided to open up about this difficult chapter in my life. Even after it has been years since it’s happened, I’m still my sexual abusers target for rumors, insults, and cut downs on any of my mistakes or celebrations. I still have to occasionally be in contact with my sexual abuser. Obviously, not by choice. I would love to have a life away from him after the emotionally toll his actions and words have done to me.
It can take a long time to overcome sexual abuse. But please know that you’re not alone. Please reach out and talk to someone about this. Do not keep this held in. My hope is that someone is able to get the help and healing they need after experiencing sexual abuse rather than keeping it a secret until many years later, like I did.
It can be extremely uncomfortable and emotional when you do reach out to someone, but it is also releasing some of the pain that you are enduring from being sexually assaulted.
You are not alone.
My Story of Sexual Abuse
It’s hard for me to write this and collect everything that happened since it has been about 21 years. I wanted to publicize this to make aware the importance of telling someone immediately as well as getting the proper help to cope with this.
My abuser would take me into the closet to play a game of “vampires.” Not entirely sure why he called it this as he just put his hand down my pants and would say “What’s in the couch cushion?” He would guide my hand down his pants and he would reach his hand down mine.
I remember having a heavy gut feeling and my mind wandering to another place. I had no idea what we were doing or how messed up this was.
He was old enough to know better and he knew exactly what he was doing. He knew that this was not okay.
I was around the same age he was when I realized this shouldn’t have happened. This situation was unacceptable.
Years later, we had our guidance counselor come in for a video on sexual assault and advised that if this had happened to anyone of us, to come forward and please tell someone.
So, I did.
I told my teacher that I need to talk to someone because what happened in the video had happened to me.
I was then in the counselors room explaining to them the details of what had happened. I was terrified at all of the questions.
I was so scared that I thought I was going to get in trouble.
Thinking about that now, it really saddens me.
Nothing came of that meeting. My parents were called in but I don’t remember what was discussed, I really wish I did. I do remember that I was told to never talk about this ever again.
So, I didn’t.
After I told the counselor and my parents became aware about this, my abuser has been so cruel and hateful toward me. It was as if he made it a mission to make me as miserable as possible since he got in trouble for his actions.
I still have to remain in contact with my abuser and have to pretend that nothing happened. I had to pretend I liked him and was on good terms with him. Because I was told to do so. I was told to tolerate this. I was told to shove anything he said away. Usually what he said to me was incredibly hurtful. Anything he did or said to me was “just who he was.”
He never changed. He never apologized. He would spread nasty rumors, celebrate my mistakes, and continue to drag me through a mental hell.
He made it a mission to tear me down mentally after I exposed what he did. I had to live with the snarky remarks, constant digs at my past, insults, and the reminders of how stupid and worthless I was.
I had put up with this for about 21 years.
Years later when I was 23, I went back to therapy since when I was in high school. I told her my feelings of worthlessness and feeling stupid. I felt like I had no place in the world and that I’ve been suicidal for such a long time. She asked me what situations in my past could have brought this on me. I had to sit and think about it for a while because I tried to block my past as much as possible. My parents divorce and the sexual assault is what I thought of after a long time of thinking.
I opened up to her and told her absolutely everything.
After that, I cried. For hours.
I called close friends and family and told them about the incident resurfacing. This was the official start of coping that should have happened years ago. My anxious and depressed emotions amplified as I recollected the parts of my past I shoved away.
Ever since, I’ve held more of a grudge toward my abuser and realized what he did should not be shrugged off anymore. I didn’t bother to give him the time of day like I was told to do. I was disgusted with how I was told to handle this situation. Pieces of my life around that time came in flurries and I was disconnected from myself for months. I didn’t have a grip on reality. Everything was overwhelming. I felt like I was sleepwalking through life.
I want to hug the younger version of myself and reassure her that she is strong and when she gets through the constant verbal beatdown from her abuser even after the assault, she will get through anything. I want to let her know that the suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts will pass and she will become successful despite all of this emotional damage she went through.
Learning to Overcome Sexual Abuse
There’s so many emotions that creep through my mind. So many negative thoughts.
Unfortunately, I learned that I adapted a coping mechanism called “dissociation” while the abuse was occurring and never learned how to stop. When it was happening, instead of focusing on what was going on, my mind wandered off in a day dream. I have panic attacks and get dizzy when I go through flashbacks. With one memory, it spirals into another. Sometimes our minds try to sabotage us with horrendous memories from the past.
These memories aren’t only of the sexual abuse I endured, but the verbal abuse I received from my abuser over the years.
I often wonder what I did to deserve this and where I would be if this didn’t happen. This emotional toll has sent me through a rollercoaster of hurt, anger, and suicidal emotions.
There were times where I felt like I was over reacting and it must not have been a big deal if I was told to keep it a secret. But the older I got, I became aware as to why people told me to keep it a secret. It was a big deal. I often felt like I invalidated my pain and suffering more often than I should have. I also felt like no one would believe me and it was my fault entirely.
I’ve realized that unfortunately I can’t change the past. If I could, I most certainly would but I have to remain strong and keep in mind that I have gotten to where I am today carrying around this heavy baggage.
I have a beautiful daughter with an incredible guy who I am so lucky to call my fiancé. I have worked tirelessly to progress my education and maintain a full time job while raising my daughter.
It helps me know that I am not alone and many other people feel the way I do. At first, I felt like I was in the wrong. Like I should just let this go and it wasn’t a big deal since I was told to sweep it under the rug and forget about it. The older I got, the more depressed I became and more self-aware that I need to dig up some unwanted parts of my past that I didn’t heal correctly.
After many therapy sessions, chats with close friends, and adjusting my thoughts, I am proud of the progress and place I am in life. It’s extremely hard for me to still have to interact with my abuser, but I am slowly making peace with the situation and keeping my distance when I do have to see him on occasion.
I wish that I coped with this when I was younger instead of keeping this a secret. I wish I didn’t have to tolerate my abuser for so many years. I wish that I was told that his actions and how he treated me was wrong. I wish I was told to stand up for myself instead of ignoring his harmful remarks. I wish this never happened.
I picture myself as a person who didn’t go through the mental and sexual abuse that had taken place throughout my life. I get so irritated that I had to endure the messy aftermath that this chapter had caused.
Therapy has shown me the different mindset of taking a look at the bigger picture and where I am today. I can’t fixate on a negative situation and its affects that has taken over me. Fixating on the negative will only allow me to focus on the negative. Instead, I need to be mindful that this has happened, but look how strong and wonderful my life has become and the many obstacles I have faced from carrying this awful chapter around. I was able to create positive, healthy chapters in my life despite this dreaded chapter that was written.
You’re Not Alone
While I have not coped with my sexual abuse as appropriately or quickly as I should have, I’m still healing and making progress. I have a tremendous amount of support that I am so blessed to have.
Please, I cannot stress this enough, reach out to someone. Holding this in has had a negative toll on my mental health.
If you know someone who has been through or is going through sexual trauma, please listen to them and let them know you are there for them. Do not compare their abuse to another situation. People handle pain differently. Please do not invalidate their pain. Please be patient. Please listen to their story.
I want any one who has suffered through sexual abuse to know they are not alone and get the proper care and help they need. I don’t want anyone to feel like I did.
Sexual abuse is a serious matter.
For some more information and help with coping with sexual assault, please look at these websites: