Sexual Abuse ~ Devalued, Discounted and Unprotected

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child sexual abuse

In my last post I talked about how I learned to take apart a memory. In this post about child sexual abuse I am going to detail one event in my life and then In part three, show how I took the memory apart a bit more in relation to the “other things” that happened in order to realize that the confusion and depression that I thought I understood had a much bigger impact on me then I realized just from the event itself. There were other things associated with this child sexual assault that contributed to my low self esteem, depression, mental health struggle and dissociative behavior. I had been emotionally abused and mistreated many years before this, and this assault was not the first sexual assault of my life, but it was one that seemed to set my path in deeper cement. Something broke in me after that night. I think this is when I lost hope. I think that this is when I believed that I really was worthless and unlovable.

When I was 13 years old, my mother had an Italian boyfriend, Phillip, who was much younger than her. He was really cute with sparkling light brown eyes and curly black hair. He  worked in construction so he was what we teenagers thought of as “really built” and what is known today as ripped, hot etc.  He used to take my brother and I riding in his convertible and we thought he was totally awesome.

One night while I was sleeping, just after my 14th birthday I woke up to Phillip touching me sexually. I was disoriented and immediately scared. This was not my first time being sexually assaulted and I had learned to freeze. Freezing includes being too afraid to scream and I found myself whispering things to him, trying to talk my way out of it. He was drunk and not making a lot of sense. All he was wearing were little white briefs and he was trying to get into bed with me. I lost time. I remember him telling me that he loved my mother, but I also remember him calling me by her name when he was getting into bed with me, grabbing and groping me. The next thing I remember is my Aunt who was visiting us and sleeping in the room next to mine, opening the door of my bedroom and shouted at Phillip “Get out of her room” He argued with her, and she stated again, this time louder “Get out of her room”. I don’t remember anything else that night.

No one addressed it that night; he could have come in again. I don’t remember much about the rest of the night though. I stayed in my room that morning, and when my mom came in I knew that my Aunt had spoken to my mother. I remember her sitting on my bed and telling me that I must have misunderstood, the he would “Never” do that. He was still in the house. It was the next morning and he didn’t have to get out of the house. My mother was saying something about how he wanted to take us on a picnic to make up for the misunderstanding. The thought of that started the panic all over again in me; I said that I would not go. I was really stunned that this conversation was happening. How could she consider going out somewhere and doing something “fun” with this creepy scary man that tried to have sex with her 14 year old daughter? I remember wondering if I was dreaming. I wondered if this was my mother. I wondered if she would suddenly hear me and realize that I had been violated; ME her daughter had been violated. But she sat there pleading with me to come on a freaking picnic (with the same guy that had been trying to rape me) and kept explaining that he was drunk; that she had broken up with him because she found out he was married to a woman who was still in Italy, but when he showed up drunk, she didn’t want him to drive so she let him stay. She tried to convince me that  maybe he didn’t know what he was doing but he would never do “that”.  

She never once asked me what happened. I don’t recall even trying to tell her. I guess I knew by that age that I would not be heard and I the truth is that she didn’t want to know.

But at the end of the conversation my mother dealt the crushing blow. She said “Well Darlene, you do have a crush on him.”

That is the memory of the event. I started having anxiety attacks. I gained 30 pounds over the next few months. I stopped sleeping properly and preferred to sleep in the daylight. I tried alcohol that summer and started to sneak it mostly because I was having trouble sleeping. I withdrew from all my friends including the boy that I considered to be my boyfriend. I didn’t even give him an explanation; I just stopped taking his calls. Over the next year I became obsessed with suicidal thoughts and prayed to die in my sleep every night. My mother let this man come over a few more times. I lived in constant fear because I never knew when he would show up. I never knew if he would come and punish me or threaten me for telling. And since there were no consequences to him, I was afraid that he would come back and finish what he started. I didn’t tell anyone else. I didn’t see the point.

These are the things that I put together myself about this one incident. In my next post I will list all the factors that I had not considered prior to learning how to take a memory apart.

Please feel free to share your story, your reaction or whatever else you would like to say.

Darlene Ouimet

92 response to "Sexual Abuse ~ Devalued, Discounted and Unprotected"

  1. By: Doren Beard Posted: 23rd October 2012

    Thanks so much for your support Darlene 🙂 Like I say, I’m grateful to have made it to this point, even of just beginning to see more clearly. Just in the last few days I feel more ‘fully’ in myself and can make better eye contact with folks.

    I need to understand what was going on in that environment because it affected me so negatively. I can’t get in mom and dad’s heads but I feel a need to really see how their actions reflected how they saw us.
    I am realizing more that the interpretations I had before of disturbing memories often protected them or supported their version of things—or more like, was their very version.

    I’ve gone through life thinking Dad knew we were bothered but he wasn’t trying to expose himself, it was just a series of lazy accidents. But a man with his kind of sexual issues (of which I should have known nothing) would not ‘innocently’ expose himself like it means nothing. You either want your kids to see your genitals or you don’t, and I must conclude he got something from it.

    But the covert ‘accidental’ manner of what he was doing enabled him to claim innocence and behave in a way he couldn’t risk more explicitly. He had no shame about it, that was the most disturbing part to me and left me very alone with MY feelings of shame witnessing it. The shame has to go somewhere. And I know that shame was internalized because when I remember these exposures I feel like crap, like something’s wrong with ME. I took the shame on because something was very wrong and he didn’t take responsibility.

    It’s a hard thing to accept that these things didn’t just happen, but were deliberate actions understood even if just subconsciously by my parents. My mom also indirectly invaded my body by examining my underwear.

    The covert nature of their actions messed with my head; it created huge self-doubt about how invasive behaviour ‘hidden’ in everyday acts like doing laundry, napping on the couch disturbed me and made me feel exposed.
    The explicit message from my mom that sex was bad and dirty, while both of them unnecessarily exposed us to this ‘dirtiness’ HIGHLY confused me and shamed me.

    What I’m attempting to do in speaking of it is to take my ingrained shame and place it back squarely on their shoulders, because it’s THEIR’S, and at least in my mind it gets placed where it belongs.
    I don’t want their junk in my head anymore. This gives me room to redefine my sexuality and treat myself accordingly, with respect, which I’ve never done with men.

    {{{{HUgs}}}}

  2. By: Doren Beard Posted: 22nd October 2012

    Boy so much can be said about this, it’s overwhelming where to begin.

    While today I can state that my childhood was abusive, I have a harder time accepting that it was also sexually abusive. That recognition is most difficult. Even though a counselour I see at a sexual assault centre tells me it was—I resist, or ping pong back and forth.

    I resist because….I try to think….it’s so invasive and intimate and personal. It sickens me. Can’t I have any private space? Is there nothing for me? It’s like going into my soul or something…and it’s just too unnatural…and I’ve been completely alone (before this counselour) in even going there, putting that definition on it.

    For years and years I’ve not called it that, or minimized it because, it’s not like that lady I knew who got pregnant 3 times by her father. And the mental ward counselour told me, in the 90s, I didn’t qualify for the sexual abuse group, (or maybe it was the incest survivors group). Then I felt bad and wondered why did I want to even BE in that group, was I playing victim? Trying to make things worse than they were?
    But I don’t believe, really, anyone would have any such interest in such a group if it didn’t speak to them on a personal level.

    I remember being angry but concluded the counselour ‘had’ to be right. I learned that my truth could never stand in opposition of someone else’s. Her schooling was supposed to mean more than my life experience and feelings.

    It was incestuous, isn’t that close enough for an incest group? That’s why I was reading books from survivors of incest 20 years ago. I was relating to it even though I couldn’t really identify in an ‘equal’ way. Why does a man’s penis have to define this according to many people? In any case I did see it, when he exposed himself sleeping on the couch or chair, many times. And he knew it, Mom complained, but he didn’t care and he didn’t change his style of underwear to make sure these ‘accidents’ never happened again.

    And as I write I’m thinking, he wanted us to see his genitals. And excuse me for the capitals this is for my edification here, IF A FATHER DOES NOT WANT HIS DAUGHTERS TO SEE HIS GENITALS HE WILL BE MORTIFIED THE FIRST TIME AND THAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN.

    So how can I say these were repeated “accidents”? Ain’t that hard to change your underwear. So why would a father not do something about it? I’ve been going through life thinking, “He didn’t know or understand the ramifications of what he was doing”.
    Oh no. He knew. “Oh they’ll see it one day anyway” he told Mom. He knew this was a sexual display, because he was referring to our future sex lives. It’s only now that I write that I make these conclusions, and I think, “All my life you bastards have told me something’s wrong with ME, and I’ve lived for 48 years believing it, my youth is GONE, I spent 19 years with a man who wouldn’t touch me and got arrested for child porn and incarcerated, I’ve prostituted for booze money, hooked up with strangers who showed the slightest interest in me, kept the weight on and cut my hair wearing drab clothes denying my beauty, because Dad’s dick was more important than his two precious girls, his porn magazines he bought and often in my presence even as a kid, he bought them so often he couldn’t buy the house his income could afford.

    And I’m not supposed to call it sexual abuse or incestuous even when he leered at me one time, I’m not even supposed to call it abuse in general according to my sister because I’m the problem. She says she’s worried about me, her husband is worried about me, they should worry about themselves, I’ll be fine. I’m just coming out into my own and not towing the line, that’s all.

    My disgusting mother who got angry at me once because I discharged too much in my panties, she’s actually looking at my panties up close I realized at that moment, that was sexual abuse too, she was invading my intimate space, it was gross. And she got off on it too, that’s another thing you don’t damn well do if you can help it, blechhh. You don’t stick your nose in that unless you wanna.

    I’m the healthiest one of the bunch and they’re worried about me.

    Darlene, thanks for this site, I’m so glad I was able to get this out

    {{HUgs}}

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 23rd October 2012

      Doren
      excellent work! you are really cooking!!! (about people being worried about you, in my case I think they were only worried about losing control over me.)
      Hugs, Darlene

  3. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 23rd September 2011

    Hi Sophia
    YES ~ it is not the type of abuse that defines us, but the lack of love, value, and respect that damages us. That continual pushing to be what and who we are not and to do what someone else wants, never being heard for what we want often ever having a say in our own lives. We learn to search for love in all sorts of ways. Thank you for sharing!
    Hugs, Darlene

    Hi Kelly
    I don’t have all my memories. In fact recently (after all these years living in wholeness) I am having flashbacks again. It wasn’t necessary for me to have all my memories, but now I want them. There is still so much missing. For me it is also the childhood memories of which I was the most afraid to face. There are many reasons for the fear that comes up when one of these memories starts to return. The fear that I might find out that I deserved it. (like I was told) the fear that I might have to relive it. (although I can and do tell myself today that I am not there again.. that the memory will contribute to setting me free. They come slowly anyway. I pay attention to my dreams. They seem to have clues in them. (the dreams that leave me feeling confused, more then just normal dreams)
    Hang in here Kelly! You are not alone! Thanks for your courage in sharing. (I too escaped into wallpaper and floating curtains…)
    Hugs, Darlene

  4. By: Kelly Posted: 23rd September 2011

    oh, nevermind, i figured it out.. sorry about that… I get frightened when i am confused, or not understanding something.. so when i saw those, comments that weren’t actuall comments, but sections of comments.. i became confused, which of course became fear. so please disregard that question and this comment.. ugh.. not a good day today..

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 23rd September 2011

      That’s okay Kelly
      I am sick with a really bad head cold, so just saw the comments now. Those are called “track backs” where this post has been mentioned on other related posts. I publish them so commenters know there is a related post they might want to read.
      I will be answering the rest of the comments in a while.
      Hugs, Darlene

  5. By: Kelly Posted: 22nd September 2011

    Darlene.. i am unsure what these mean… numbers 77 – 80 i believe…

  6. By: Kelly Posted: 22nd September 2011

    Oh my Darlene, i am so sincerely sorry for the abuse you have suffered, so sorry for the childhood you lost, so sorry that you did not have a “Mom” to love, protect and honor you.. You are so full of love and light, so deserving of all things beautiful, i so wish that as a child someone could have let you know this..
    To all others who have posted… As i read your words, my heart cried for each and every one of you, my heart screamed out for the children you were who suffered so terribly, who felt so unloved and cast aside… I wish too, that you were all given the gift of unconditional love and allowed to feel the pure joy and wonderment that a child should be able to experience. This world is a harsh, harsh place, made so by harsh people.. my dream is that one day, you and i will know and feel that we are wonderful children of the Creator, filled with love and light, walking in the knowledge that we are deserving of the love and tenderness that we were so horribly robbed of.. Thank you all.. for sharing parts of you with all of us.. it means so much to have a place where sharing can happen with peace, encouragement and love…
    i remember the walls, the wallpaper, the knots in the paneling, of the rooms i was abused in.. as i most times disappeared inside those walls for the duration of the experience… in the one, the faded, browning wallpaper, which was once probably cream color, it had light blue flowers, that now had a yellowish tinge from the cigarettes, that burned my nose so badly while i visited.. i remember as he would lean over me, frightened, but also curious, as the ashes dropped off the one hanging out of his mouth.. curious to if i would even feel the pain while i burned alive..(my childs mind didn’t know that the ash does not catch fire) but that also was my cue, to disappear, find the right flower in the wallpaper, or wait, there, the wallpaper is has a rip, thats where i will go, through that hole, he will never find me in there..the roughness of his hands disturbed me, always felt as though he was scratching me.. i never said a word, never looked at him.. stayed far away, until i was set on my feet.. and as i was led out the door.. My mind doesn’t really let me stay in that room, or any other room, with that one or another childhood abuser.. it seems when i try, i become to frightened… perhaps i don’t want to know exactly what happened.. i have been able to in therapy see and speak of the abuse, rapes in my teen and adult years.. but those child hood memories.. seem to want to stay hidden.. is it necessary, really necessary to know all?

  7. By: Sophia Posted: 22nd September 2011

    Wow, WHAT a conversation. So I can’t say that my abuse “wasn’t so bad.” It set me up for YEARS of pain. So I was never raped or molested. So it seemed like “all” I was getting was cruelty and insults from my step-mother, and her tendency to try to “help” me by forcing me to do things her way, like making me get a short haircut when I wanted long hair. And my father, who I thought loved me, always stck up for her, made excuses, “explained” her behavior. I became the crazy one. Got into fights at school. Sent to psychiatrists because why was I SUCH a problem at home? Then as a teenager I went wild sexually. I had sex with anyone. I told myself it was because I was liberated and into “free love.” There was nothing free or loving about it. It was compulsive. It was a desperate attempt to feel worthy and wanted. If someone would have sex with me that meant approval. This went on for years. I jumped right in because if I insisted on waiting and getting to know them first and all that sane stuff, they would reject me. I was anxious to do what pleased them but afraid to ask for what I wanted. No, self-respect was not an option because I had been groomed to believe I was not deserving of it. And then, of course, my step-mother called me a slut. No one ever cared about me to ask WHY I would act in such a self-destructive way or to offer real loving support and advice. I had to figure it out for myself and that took a long time because, as I said, I didn’t even realize that what I was doing was so self-obliterating. I thought it was “groovy.” Did I ever stop and ask myself why it really wasn’t all that much fun? Did I ever ask myself if these men who were so willing to take advantage of me were worthy of MY attention? It’s very difficult now to realize how badly I squandered those years. Thank you all for helping me to see that this does NOT happen to those who are treated with love and respect and intelligent guidance. It is wonderful to see this clearly and get it off my chest.

  8. By: Elizabeth Posted: 20th September 2010

    These are all such powerful comments. Darlene, Bless you for this blog.I think overall I came out of my family and situation with a profound sense of shame and feeling defective in every way. I did look for validation that I was a good person, from other people.I literally didn’t ‘get it’ that I AM a good person, a worthy person in my own right.I felt defective as a back as I can remember. I was like a deflated balloon.I felt like I wasn’t capable of making good decisions. That is how defeated I felt at times.
    A counselor once told me: ‘We do to ourselves what was done TO us, until we learn not to.’

    Recovery doesn’t happen in a vacuum, just like abuse always involves other people. Its so important to be around compassionate and understanding people when healing. People damaged us. We have to have healing people around to recover and not isolate.

    I encountered several disturbing situation in the last several years:my toddler being sexually abused, but not knowing who did it:later having my daughter being taken on a church youth trip with the female chaperone leaving the group at their destination and no parents being informed that this would happen; my mother telling people I was mistreating her; the man who came into our lives who started stalking me when I objected to him being around us, my sister telling people I was being mean to our mother,(untrue) that I had demons, and was jealous of her because she was ‘normal’.Family friends associated with the church, trying to get my daughter away from me when I tried to leave their church with her;….

    I had one friend say: ‘this is all crazy; its as if everyone around you is acting like you are certifiably nuts, yet you aren’t crazy.Anyone would have valid reasons to be upset at the things that have gone on!’ I said: ‘Well, if I am crazy, then its an outside issue. It doesn’t change the facts of what has gone on, and the fact that my family is playing the ‘crazy card’ scares me more than anything.’They sll acted like some kind of a cult, yet I know they aren’t .

    I think the efforts of the people closest to me- family, and a few close family friends, to discredit me in my life arena, where I walked and functioned everyday: family, church, daughter’s school(connected with church), made me angrier than anything.Other people CAN destroy alot in your life.Sticks and stones and words CAN hurt you, particularly if they were said by people who you thought cared about you.
    It was my worst mightmare: having NO credibility or the ABILITY TO BE HEARD after my family decided to tell everyone I was nuts. I was left without the ability to protect my daughter because I was then not FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH.I was considered nuts, because I had had a breakdown as the result of dealing WITH my mother etc, and my young daughter was fair game to people who wanted to put her into inappropriate situations.
    I am not sure I can actively forgive but the horror of that time is fading.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 20th September 2010

      Elizabeth,
      When I read the quote from the counselor I thought “wow” ~ ‘We do to ourselves what was done TO us, until we learn not to.’ That is very true.
      The “crazy thing” was a huge thing for me to overcome. That label ate me alive. I think it was so hard for me because deep down I wondered if I was… and that allowed others to just get that foot in the door and start using it against me. I was a little stunned when my therapist started to helping me to take a closer look at all that… I was stunned and sitting there going “I’m not crazy..” over and over as though I was trying to convince myself. Eventually I knew that it was true. I was not crazy. When a bunch of people all gang up on one other person, it is worse. If they find out you have had any sort of break down or are on or have even been on anti depressants, it is as though they think they have “proof” that you are indeed crazy and they use that against you too. I know, I have been there too.

      About forgiveness; that was never my goal in healing. It just happened as a result of working out all this junk and abuse and fixing my faulty belief system. I had to put all my ideas about forgiveness on a back burner while I was in recovery though… because I didn’t understand it and understanding it didn’t set me free. It was another way that I had been controlled and devalued and told there was something wrong with me.
      Thanks for your comment and for sharing more of your journey,
      Hugs, Darlene

  9. By: Michaela Posted: 18th September 2010

    The courage it took for eveyone to share that these storied is incredible, thankyou. It mirrors exactly the way I felt my whole life, and I remember the incident that for me was the catalyst, although because noone knew noone undervalued it. I just kept it inside. I have had a food addiction my whole life because of my experiences, and a near miss with alcohol addiction. I completely understand about freezing- I learned that very early. And being told you are crazy as well. Because my father was my orginal perpetrator, I was labelled as the milkmans kid, the oversensitive one, the crazy one, the one who is a bit strange. Being scared was a way of life and I never looked anyone in the eye. Survival was my main objective. This is until I met some friends who showed me truth and love in a way I had never known. I have finally spoken out. I don’t know what will happen now, but I am hoping it will be life and hope and truth if I keep faith. A friend put me onto this website and I am so so so so so glad, because it has helped me not minimize my experience, to know I am not alone and know that I am not going crazy.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 18th September 2010

      Welcome Michaela,
      I am so glad that you found my blog and have been able to realize that there are many of us who have been that same horrible place that you have also been. It was VERY important to me to stop minimizing my experience. You are not alone.
      You mentioned eating disorder ~ my next post is (tomorrow) is actually about how I developed an eating disorder and how I realized a few key points about why that happened ~ which enabled me to put a few more pieces of the puzzle together.
      I am glad that you are here!
      Hugs, Darlene

  10. By: Jimmy b Posted: 18th September 2010

    Elizabeth
    I can realy relate to your story
    I was not sexually abused. People think my abuse wasn’t that bad–to their standards. Alot of my life I thought I had nothing to complain about. It wasnn’t until I started talking and getting my feelings out that I began to recover, starting on my journey towards wholeness. The sickness inside that I carried was like a tumor, a festering brain eating disease that clouded my thinking and sanity. I infected my family and loved ones with my belief systems and showed the wrong way to love and nurture. I didn’t know how myself because I had never been taught the right way. I had to get the sickness out, I “talked” to my therapist, I “talked” to my wife and family. I “talked” to myself and learned how to love myself. I puked out memories and warped beliefs and started to fill the emptiness with the right defination of love, something good I could share and believe in my heart. Surgeons cut out cancerious growths and disect them and then incenerate it. Then people start to recover. It feels good to get the bad out so we can start to heal. I say “disect” because I had to tear apart the good from the bad and put it through a new grid of understanding.
    Mental abuse can be just as horrific as physical abuse and sexual abuse. ABUSE IS ABUSE The stories and memories people share are heart wrenching. Why do people treat others like that with such little reguard–especially the ones who are supposed to “love” us, the ones we call “family” That also goes for other we are suppose to trust-Pastors, Police, Doctors etc. Why do they abuse with such meanness, hate and patheticness.
    Please keep sharing and getting it out

  11. By: Elizabeth Posted: 17th September 2010

    Thanks Darlene,

    I feel I just posted too long a comment and it wasn’t realy about sexusl abuse. I am still really confused by my family’s reactions to so many things.

    So much of my experiences as a kid are really fuzzy. My niece and my daughter were both sexually abused;my niece by her stepfather at 15, and my daughter as a toddler and we never found out who did it. She wasn’t around anyone except my mom and I and the people at her daycare. I lost my faith in most people at that time, and have never really trusted anyone totally since.It feels as if there is a really big piece missing in my life, like there are things that hsppened that I don’t remember or didn’t register.I have been kind of hypervigilant ever since then afraid I would miss the things I needed to be aware of to keep my daughter safe.I had nightmares for years about not being able to find her, or her being in trouble and I couldn’t help her.It just never occurred to me my family would act like enemies and obstruct the things I tried to do to keep my daughter, mom and I safe.

    My heart goes out to all the people who posted here. Thank God we are all still here. I am amazed I made it this far.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 18th September 2010

      Elizabeth,
      It doens’t matter if your comment was about sexual abuse or not. This blog is about overcoming mental health struggles and all abuse in order to live a full life. In this particular blog post I am just using an example of sexual abuse in order to show the impact that it had on my belief system. In the post I published yesterday, I refer to two other incidents that were not related to sexual abuse and yet completly contributed to my belief system and how messed up it got.
      I can relate to a lot of what you say. I was very protective of my children and my in-laws thought I was crazy and that I was actually wrecking their lives becaue of some of my protectivness. Even food alergies that the DR.s confirmed, they did not respect and looked down on me for being so careful with the kids. I don’t understand that kind of attitude, it was as though they would rather put the childs life in danger then believe me. Such a blatant display of the way they think. (which is I am nothing and know nothing ~ but they know best about everything) There were a million other examples to do with them and other people in my life too. (and some of them are already written here in the blog. )

      Anyway, please feel free to share what ever you like ~ because in the end I found out in my process that it is all linked together, and it is up to us to unravel the strings and make the connections and set the false things we come to believe, straight so that we can be free from the way that all the horror of the past impacts the present.
      Love Darlene

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