*TRIGGER WARNING* The following article contains discussion of child sexual abuse and pregnancy loss. If you need to talk to someone, please call Bravehearts Support Line on 1800 272 831 (Mon to Fri, 8:30am-4:30pm AEDST) or Lifeline (24hrs) 13 11 14
The earliest memory is about 6 years of age. However, the grooming may have begun earlier as it is all intertwined. All through childhood and early adolescence, the abuse was continuous. My father was relentless in creating opportunities and getting me alone. I tried to reach out to my mother but she turned away and it continued. Escalating over time to every opportunity until I was a slave. A world of alcoholics. I was trapped, isolated, and nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. My innocent, young mind created magical thinking. Two separate lives. No one to turn to.
The burden was placed on me to carry for eternity. The excruciating shame, guilt, pain. Day after day, month after month, year after year. A child unprotected and living a life of extreme misery. Crying night after night. Siblings always bullying, mocking, and ridiculing. I created a perfect family that didn’t exist, believing that I must be the problem, I’m the bad one. Life is not worth living. A worthless life. Everything stolen. Identity, soul crushed to nothing.
At the age of fourteen, I became pregnant and no one cared to help or ask questions. I had to endure it alone even though I was living in the family home. My mother did nothing. Didn’t talk to me. The child was stillborn at seven months through the pregnancy and my father ensured I created a story and did not tell anyone it was him. My mother didn’t talk to me or comfort me. This is when it all stopped, although he did want to continue with the abuse, it stopped.
‘I was left with terror, confusion, and shame, all alone.’
There was an offer of professional help, but my mother refused. The following years I was treated like filth. When I tried to reach out to family or family friends they turned away. I was left with terror, confusion, and shame, all alone. Nightmares were relentless. No self-worth, no self-respect, no identity. All torn apart. I did my best to try and strive to overcome the worthlessness with various reputable hobbies that I thought were respectable and would prove I was worth something. That I’m not garbage.
Everyone knew about the abuse, it wasn’t hidden. I was humiliated. I was left with critical emotional and psychological injuries. At 22 years of age, I married someone who appeared to care and be interested in me, which was not the case. I would try to overcome the pain and hide from it. I had developed eating disorders and an addiction to exercise that I managed to overcome alone.
Eventually, the crying every morning when I woke up and crying every night before going to sleep would not stop. I mentioned to my husband that I should some help, but he was not agreeable. Constantly alone. No one wanted to help or talk to me. No family support, nothing. I was in excruciating pain and trying various hobbies to escape. Not substances, not alcohol. My insatiable love of learning was my saviour.
‘…my mother knew it was happening all along and did nothing to stop it.’
I didn’t know it had a name until a random coincidence when my husband required a counsellor. I had an episode in the consulting room and there was someone who actually wanted to listen. I was 30 years old before I could finally get anyone to help. It took weeks to unlock my poor brain that had seized up. Only to discover that what was normalised in the family unit and wasn’t talked about, was a crime of child sexual abuse. Also, to discover that my mother knew it was happening all along and did nothing to stop it.
Along this journey was the step into a court case. Finally, someone is listening and now it is extremely serious, but no one wants to help. I was told I was making trouble. Family support was nowhere. The evidence of the stillborn child allowed the case to be investigated. I was alone in producing the statement. Recreating the abhorrent abominable and disgusting experience. The police were very uncaring and rough about the process. I trusted the psychologist that this was worth doing, so I endured. I know when others are trying to shame me of my past that it was not my fault.
It was a cruel, brutal, and disgusting abuse of an innocent child. My siblings are all estranged and believe that I caused trouble. I blamed myself for all the problems in the family now I realise I am not responsible.
I am no longer with my partner. I could not see at the time how controlling and manipulative he was because I was trying to cope and survive. Being married to a covert narcissist for 30 years has taken its toll as well. I didn’t understand the trauma, bonding, and abandonment issues that kept me in a cycle. Trying to get away and then being drawn back in. No one to talk to, and no one wanted to provide the answers. I was to be retained. The marriage wasn’t working, but he wouldn’t let go. I didn’t know what that was until recently and how the process of healing was sabotaged when it didn’t fit in with his plans.
‘I have only now been able to connect with my inner child, love her, and embrace her.’
I am now 54 years of age. I don’t want to just survive anymore. I want to live. I have only now been able to connect with my inner child, love her, and embrace her. The pain has kept us apart. The chaos of the marriage has kept us apart. This is the most wonderful experience of connecting and being able to be whole.
The searching that I was not conscious of was seeking me. I understand no matter how I tried to listen to others about being myself I would not find out who I am. It was never going to happen because no one mentioned that I needed to love my inner child, but I couldn’t reach her because of all the pain, trauma, and darkness blocking the connection. That has now been overcome and loving every day that we get closer and discover more about this beautiful, loving, intelligent, and delightful little girl.
Would you like to share your own survivor story?
Sharing your own story of survival can be a powerful way to help other survivors of child sexual abuse feel like they aren’t alone in their journey. Many survivors also feel sharing has helped them find hope and healing. If sharing your story is something you are interested in, please reach out to us using the form at the end of our dedicated Survivor Stories page.