I began this blog almost a year and a half ago, with the purpose of letting my mom and sister know my thoughts and progress as I began dealing with my depression. It was the threat of my marriage ending, that finally brought me to seek help from a therapist. Never did I imagine where I’d be a year later, and what obstacles I would face and overcome. One of those being my sexual abuse as a child. It was something I never planned on sharing, but the more I spoke of my current issues and how they were affecting my life now, the more I realized that the abuse was at the heart of many of my problems.
The more I talk about the subject, the more I learn that, sadly, this is more widespread than I could ever have imagined. I can’t save anyone, or undo the damage, but I can continue to talk about it with others. If perpetrators lose the protection of silence, victims start to heal, even if they never get justice.
A few months after I started therapy, I knew that the next step for me, was to revisit a couple homes I had lived in as a child. I would allow myself to feel the emotions I had as a girl, and grieve, then give myself the comfort I needed. This past January, after my trip to New York, I also decided that I had to talk to the women in my family. I knew there were other victims aside from me, and I also wanted them to get better. That, of course, was wishful thinking on my part. The fear victims feel, hinders them from voicing their pain or looking for help. Perpetrators are good at continuing to shame and control. They can look you in the eye and give a smirk, confident that no one will ever speak up and expose them. Even so, I decided it was time for someone to say something, and I asked my mom to help me get the women together to talk.
Me and my sister made our way down to Texas a couple weeks ago. I was aware of the seriousness of what I was about to do. I wouldn’t have been able to do it if I hadn’t dealt with all that anger and sadness beforehand. My friend Janet was concerned, and lovingly warned me about how not everyone was gonna be happy to hear what I had to say. It had the potential of ending badly, and me having a setback, if I went having high expectations about what I wanted to accomplish. I took it all in, printed articles about the subject to look over and share, and talked to my therapist about my plans. She gave me some feedback and advice. Never did she express that I wasn’t ready, and this gave me reassurance that it was time. Everything was falling into place to make that trip. I wasn’t coming in as a savior, or protector to anyone, I was simply there to speak about how it had affected me, and that I was no longer gonna be quiet about it, and neither should they.
Although I had played out different scenarios in my head, I could never have imagined how things turned out. The plan had been for the women, not men to be present. Four perpetrators happened to be there when we arrived. I couldn’t stop now, simply because they were there, I now had a voice, and they were gonna hear it. Although the women who were present were informed about what we were there to discuss, the men weren’t. So I started a conversation with one of them. I talked about how I had suffered all these years and how I was now getting better. He was sympathetic, and didn’t deny anything I was saying, he was sorry. He wasn’t my perpetrator, but I knew who he had harmed. When I spoke to my grandma and two of her siblings, they denied knowing anything about the abuse going on in the family, her father being at the center of it. She felt we were trying to get her to hate him. That, of course, was not the goal. During my conversation with her, one of her nephews came up to us, and was visibly upset. He accused me of being psycho for daring to come and talk about such a subject. I replied, that yes, I had been crazy, but only when I was silent about the whole thing. He refuted that by saying that I had dreamed it all, it was all made up in my head. I didn’t let his accusations intimidate me, because he had fear in his eyes. He felt exposed. His control method wasn’t working, and it made him angrier.
In the end I walked away leaving them with the shame I had carried for so many years. Now it’s theirs. It’s finally where it belongs. I have no feelings of hatred towards any of them. If anything, I feel sorry that they have self destructed by abusing drugs and alcohol, and it saddens me that they dragged other people, children, with them in a vicious cycle of abuse.
All I could keep repeating was for them, the women, to not stop talking about it. None of them may have been ready to hear what we had to say, but someone may be, in the future. That’s all I can hope for. And if any of them decide to reach out to me, I’m more than happy to hear them out and reassure them that they’re gonna be okay. As victims, the most powerful thing we have is each other. We shouldn’t view each other as enemies. Our enemy is the one who harmed us when we were helpless. They aren’t gonna help us get better, it’s us, as we come together and learn to comfort one another.
This has been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in my adult life. It’s taught me that I am strong, and that I’m no longer a victim. It’s given me the ability to feel greater empathy towards those who are still suffering. No one should live in survival mode. Life can be enjoyed after suffering something as terrible as sexual abuse. And there are people who want to help, me included.
Thank you mom for the support and help in getting everything started down there. Thank you Celeste for joining me in this journey, things will get better ; ). We’ve come out of the mire, so to speak, and have done some cleansing. It’s time to take good care of ourselves.
Love you guys ; )