Understanding Depression Led to Facing Sexual Abuse by Tracie Nall


I am excited to have my friend and fellow writer Tracy Nall contributing to Emerging from Broken with her guest post on how her search for answers about depression led her to realizing that child sexual abuse was at the root. This article articulates how hard it is to tell someone and describes the setbacks, feelings and damage when someone reacts to that horrifying experience in a minimizing way.  Please help me welcome Tracie and as always please add your comments and feedback.  ~ Darlene ~ founder of EFB

 Understanding Depression Led to Facing Sexual Abuse by Tracie Nall

Tracie Nall

I have traveled a long road to get to the point where I can now speak out about the abuse I survived.

I knew that I needed help before I knew the reason why. Or at least before I would admit it to myself. Depression was something I had battled since my childhood years. By my late teens, I was working in a bookstore, and I found myself regularly drawn to the self-help section, searching to answers for questions I hadn’t articulated.

 One hot summer day, the kind of day when no one wants to leave the comforts of their air conditioners, the bookstore was completely empty, and we hadn’t had a customer for hours. I wandered to the biography section to re-alphabetize books and look for a new read. It was that day I came across a little book where the author shared about her experiences with depression. I skimmed through several chapters, and then hid it behind a stack of books. It scared me how much of my own life I saw reflected in her words.

 Two weeks later, I was at another bookstore on my day off (bookstores are my very favorite places) and found another copy of that book. I wasn’t looking for it. It wasn’t even sitting in the right section. I re-shelved it, and left the store.

 I couldn’t get away from that book about depression, though, because the next day at work someone came into my store looking for it. I finally bought a copy of my own to take home and read. But I went back to the other store to get it – not wanting my coworkers to see me purchase a book about someone with depression issues and start asking questions.

 I still have my copy of that book. It is marked up, highlighted, the margins written in…If you look closely at those margins, there are small snippets of my abuse story written in code. Those snippets were the beginning of me admitting to myself what had happened in my childhood. I started counseling sessions soon after that.

 My counselor was sweet. Her office was painted light blue, and there was crochet doilies and covers on everything that stood still. She reminded me of a grandma. I spent several sessions dancing around my reasons for seeing her, before I realized that I would never tell her anything of importance. I just couldn’t see her in that light. I called the office the next day and cancelled my future appointments.

 But my heart was bursting to talk. To tell someone what I was starting to admit and the memories that were coming more and more often. My uncle sexually abused me. I tried writing it down, but promptly burned the paper, not wanting anyone to find it.

 I decided to tell a close friend. He had grown up in an abusive home, and I thought that would make it easier to tell him. I showed up at his house with my marked up book, and a container of chewy spice drops, and asked if he would help me do something. I had planned to go to the graveyard where my uncle was buried. I was going to try to make peace, or get closure, or maybe just yell and kick the tombstone a lot. I didn’t know what exactly I was going to do, but it seemed like that was the place to do it. And I knew I wanted to leave those spice drops there as a sign that I was no longer under his abuse or control.

 We stood by the tombstone, and I stammered out, “My uncle. He, um, he used to….well, when I was little, he made me play this game. with these spice drops. And he….”

 At that time, I didn’t know words like “grooming” I didn’t know that sexual abusers sometimes use games as a way to molest children, and I didn’t know how to tell my friend what happened. I said, “He touched me,” I don’t know exactly what I expected. A hug? Support? Something.

 But what I got was, “Did he hit you?” I shook my head. “He didn’t hit you. So what’s the big deal? You are way overreacting.”

 What’s the big deal? That definitely was not what I was expecting. Then he asked if he could eat some of those spice drops I was carrying around. We left the graveyard. I drove, and he sat in the passenger seat eating spice drops. I felt sick.

 I continued to write letters and memories and notes, and then quickly burn them. The reaction of my friend confirmed my thoughts that I shouldn’t let anyone know what I was dealing with. I kept silent for several months, and pulled away from friends. I called that counselor back and got another appointment, but after just a few minutes sitting on her crochet-covered, flowered chair, I knew the visit wasn’t going anywhere. We ended up talking about cookie recipes.

 The next time I spoke the words, I was in coffee shop late one night. A guy sat at my table and we started talking. At one point in the conversation, he told me that he was four years sober, after an arrest for drugs that scared him and changed his life. He was so calm about it. No hiding, no stammering. When he asked me about my family, where I was from, I found myself staring at a painting of a coffee cup hanging behind him and saying, “My uncle molested me.” It came out of my life just like that. I was stunned….and the guy sitting across from me was probably a little stunned, too. To his credit, he didn’t freak out on me. He said something like, “That sucks. Guys like that should be shot,” and asked if I was okay.

 I don’t remember that guy’s name (he asked for my number, but never called me for a date – I can’t say that I’m surprised), but I will forever be grateful to him. I still felt broken after that night, and it was a long time before I spoke those words out loud again. But his simple response allowed me to see that what happened to me was wrong, and it was a big deal, and I wasn’t overreacting or crazy.

Tracie Nall 

Through her journey, Tracie found “Emerging from Broken” and other great sites, including Band Back Together. She has become instrumental in the daily operations and is an Officer of the Board for The Band Back Together Project, a group website “that provides educational resources as well as a safe, moderated, supportive environment to share stories of survival. Through the power of real stories written by real people, we can work together to destigmatize mental illness, abuse, rape, baby loss and other traumas so that we may learn, grow, and heal.”

The site is the brainchild of Becky Harks of Mommy Wants Vodka, and came from her desire to connect with others in her same situation after her daughter was born with a previously undetected neural tube defect. She, along with Jana Anthoine of Jana’s Thinking Place, launched Band Back Together in September of 2010 and it has grown to house over 2000 stories from individuals and over 300 specific resource pages.

Band Back Together would like to invite you to join in helping break the silence behind so many things that we all feel we can’t or shouldn’t talk about. They’re our stories, good or bad, and it’s time to own them.

Join Band Back Together on Facebook, and  the Band Back Together website  Darlene Ouimet on Band Back Together

31 response to "Understanding Depression Led to Facing Sexual Abuse by Tracie Nall"

  1. By: Cat Posted: 10th June

    If someone would suggest a book that is helpful for understanding and dealing with depression I would be most appreciative. The only thing I’ve read about depression is that it is anger turned inward. I don’t know if that’s true or not but I need to work on the depression. It is so crippling. I want to be happy and I’ve come so far. Thanks 🙂

  2. By: Cat Posted: 10th June

    I don’t know where to start. I don’t feel like being comprehensive. I’m impatient lately. maybe my age, maybe approaching or crashing into menapause decade. Whatever is brewing now is leaving me to sort through the next round of, well frankly, crap. I’m so tired. Years of self help books, therapy, TRYING. Always tried through it all. But I’m weary. I feel bad now because I was never sexually abused like so many others, so I should be fine. Most of my issues were with my mother, and her abandonment and emtional abuse. Then I remember, just a minute, thats not true. My first boyfriend who meant everything to me date raped me. I actually only remembered that about 5 years ago. I guess i never really thought that he raped me bc he was my boyfriend after all. the only person in my life to that point that paid any attention to me and made me feel like I was worthy of anything. I was 16. I kept refusing to have sex with him bc I was too young and afraid of getting pregnant. so he only physically forced me into anal sex so i wouldnt have to worry. So very thoughtful. So I guess i can add sexual abuse and betrayal to the list. I trusted him and he wasnt worthy. he just wanted to do what he wanted to do. like all selfish, abusive people.

    For the last 2 years i’ve been seeing a guy that thinks being friends with benefits is just the greatest thing and thinks that i should love and embrace the concept. I wasnt interested from the beginning but he talked me into seeing him bc something is better than nothing, right? Ha! and the time has flown by. I dont seem to meet anyone who wants a nice relationship. Married men are always interested and most recently a sex addict who is just looking to enhance his call sheet. So the last 2 years have been taking a toll on me. I’ve tried repeatedly to get rid of this narcissistic guy and he keeps telling me how great he is and that he cares about me. Totally depressed and twenty pounds later I told him he has absolutely nothing to offer me and i’m not interested in seeing him anymore. the phone and texts dont stop. He’s relentless. I didnt realize this as abuse until recently. Actually until i started reading EFB postings. I feel kind of foolish in hind sight but I’m not gonna beat myself up.

    So here I sit with a pile of stuff to do in front of me with a total inability to get anything done. Can’t shake the depression. Cant focus. Dont want to take any phone calls. And of course, TRYING to keep it all together and present to the world as if nothing is wrong. This guy isnt unkind intentionally. I’ve tried to explain to him that bc of my background this relationship is detrimental to me and completely toxic. Maybe someone else might like the parameters but not me. So I feel bad for him bc I am forcing him away. He keeps telling me that I hurt him. I also feel a sense of loss on some level. I’m already lonely most of the time. So I guess I’m all set up for another bout with depression. Which I would pay the devil to avoid. It just doesnt get any easier does it??

    And finally I feel bad to post this bc it’s so needy and pathetic. But I’m going to post it just the same. It’s part of the life line I have vowed to go back to and rescue that adorable adandoned and beat up little girl. I will never betray her or abandon her, and if posting this today is what is needed then post it I shall.

    Hoping that once I do I will be able to take another step forward.

    Much love and hugs to all

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