Trigger warning: non-graphic mention of sexual abuse. Discussion of the pain of being disbelieved.
This has been a very hard recovery week. I was tempted to not even post about this, but I committed to be real and raw, so that is what I will do.
Working through the fallout of sexual abuse seems to be never ending. It doesn’t matter if it happened 40 days ago or 40 years. Sexual abuse is soul shattering. As a child who was abused, I had something stolen from me. I lost my innocence. I lost my childhood, in more ways than one. I have tried to block out so much of the trauma and victimization of my younger years that I lost a lot of good memories as well. I don’t remember a time when I was truly happy as a child. I lost my security, and that is foundational to what I have struggled with this week.
I watched a series on Netflix titled “Unbelievable”. For those who have been sexually assaulted, it could be triggering so I really wouldn’t recommend it. The odd thing was that it wasn’t the assault scenes that triggered me. Maybe one day I will be brave enough to explain why that is. What hit me the hardest was the story of the main character. There were “inconsistencies” in her story, so she was accused of making it up and bullied by the police into admitting that she had orchestrated the whole thing for attention. I was reminded of the things I was told when I admitted I had been abused. One person told my mom that I was “making a mountain out of a molehill.” One of my loved ones directly called me a liar. I was accused by a number of people, including one social worker, that I was just trying to get attention. And someone very dear to me said something the most hurtful, years later, that no one would ever want me “that way” as their reasoning why I was lying. For someone who has been abused, to not be believed and to be belittled, simply revictimizes them. It compiles abuse upon abuse. And wounds that were already shredding to the soul become compounded and ripped apart even wider.
To go along with realizing and beginning to process that I was much more hurt by those words of disbelief than I realized, there is this little girl inside of me, the one who is still stuck at nine years old, wondering why so many people who should have protected me didn’t. Now, rationally, as a parent myself, I know that we are unable to protect our children from every thing that might hurt them. Oh, that I could go back and make a certain car accident NOT happen! We do our best with what we are given. I know if my parents had had any clue what might happen, there is no way they would have left me in that situation. But that adult understanding does not help the very real pain felt by the little girl who is still part of me. So, I keep pressing on and asking Father my questions and yelling at Him (He is big enough to handle it) and letting Him begin to speak hope and healing to my heart as only He can do.
Some might wonder, if these are the things I am having to deal with in recovery, why I pursue it. Wouldn’t it be easier to leave that stuff alone and not dwell on it? In response to that, I will say that I spent years trying not to dwell on it. It is a lie that if we don’t think about something, it doesn’t affect us. Every decision I made was shaped by my abuse. My addictions and compulsive behaviors were developed to help me feel like I was in control over my life, which I increasingly wasn’t (Step 1). I was filled with anger that I tried to suppress but only became that much more explosive when it did come out. And anger, when it is suppressed, is simply turned inward and becomes depression and self-hatred. These were the things that controlled my life and not just mine, but my family’s as well. I no longer want that to be my story. I want John 10:10 to be my story. “The thief does not come except to steal, to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
The enemy has stolen enough of my life from me. Jesus and I are taking it back.