*******trigger warning – incest/sexual abuse*******
When someone first said to me “I think you are suffering from PTSD. You should go to a doctor.”
I thought PTSD, isn’t that what soldiers have! I can’t have that! I’ve never been to war. Little did I know how wrong I was. But as I started to do the research on PTSD, I began to see that war isn’t the only cause. Its about trauma and how we experience/process what is happening to us. A lot of victims of child abuse have PTSD.
Here is my story.
As far as I can remember my abuse started at five. I’d like to say that I can for sure say it began then but unfortunate my memories are still coming back to me. These memories are like peeling an onion, there are layers on top of layers and I have only just started pulling them back to see what memories lie underneath them that I have forgot.
So I was 5. I was in the shower when someone came in. Being that we were at my grandparents house and there were at least 10 maybe more people staying there, I didn’t think too much of it. I thought it was either my sister or my mom having to use the toilet and they just couldn’t wait. Then the shower door was opening and someone was in the shower with me. All I keep thinking was why was someone in the shower with me. By the time I got the soap out of my eyes, a hand was over my mouth, and a voice was telling me to be quiet or I would get in trouble.
And so started my lifetime war with myself – “You should do this!” says one voice – “No! you should do this other thing.” says the other. Many times I will fight this war. But in this moment the war basically came down to – SCREAM, SCREAM, SCREAM because what is happening is so damn wrong or Shut up, keep quiet, you don’t want to get caught because you know that this is wrong and you will get into trouble.
SCREAM – SHUT UP, SCREAM – SHUT UP, SCREAM – SHUT UP. What do I do? I don’t want to be in trouble so I don’t scream. Maybe I should have screamed than the rest would not have happened, but at five it is so hard to know what to do in an impossible, adult situation.
I was told to turn around. What I saw will be forever burn in my memory. Before me was my grandfather, naked and erect. His hand was grabbing mine and I was made to touch and rub him. It was something I did not want, I knew it was wrong, but he was stronger than me so I had no choice. I closed my eyes again. And once again was born another of my defense mechanisms – avoidance, disassociating, disappearing into myself. Suddenly I wasn’t in the shower with a nasty old man doing things I didn’t want to do. I was in a forest, in a pool of water floating. Peaceful and quiet. Then it was over. I don’t know how long it lasted but he was getting out and I was told that if I told I get it for sure. I better be quiet because my parents wouldn’t want me anymore if they found out what a nasty girl I was.
So began the sexual abuse followed by the emotion abuse. I’m not sure which one was worst. Althought I can still hear in my head to this day that I’m a nasty girl and no one will want me now.
To that voice – I say – Go far away for you no longer have the power to hold on to me any more. I am smart. I am good. And there are people who love me for me.