My name is Melissa. I am a single mom in my thirties, a survivor of childhood sexual, and physical abuse along with many more painful experiences. I like so many others, have a rather sad story to tell. I have recently gained some clarity on my life's direction, what the past means to me, and the potential of the future. It is truly my heart's desire to take the good that has come from my experiences and give a new perspective of hope and healing to people who are struggling to find their way into the light again. I really didn't start to break the bad cycles and take my life back until just a few years ago. In doing so, I began to heal and see things that I had never seen before. I became inspired and driven to give something back.
It isn't surprising that abuse(especially sexual) is still a very difficult topic for most to stomach. How do you think victims of abuse feel? It is particularly hard for victims to deal and heal due to the discomfort that abuse causes with their alleged support system(family, friends, aquaintences). In the aftermath of my experience with sexual abuse, when I was a new patient and had frequent visits with a phsycologist, my mother sat down with the therapist one day. She wanted to know what was going to become of me. What kind of things should she expect to transpire in my life now that this tragedy had happened. The therapist described the life I would lead to my mother. She said I would be promiscuous, I would have issues surrounding school, depression, drugs, and an all around troubled life. She added that I would continue on a destructive path until I reached my thirties. My mother told me about that conversation only three years ago. Guess what?... Every inch of it came true. The therapist was right. This is a stereotype of what to expect as a result of being a victim of childhood sexual abuse. My message is that this stereotype is not how it has to be. We can heal much more effectively. Certainly before we reach adulthood. We have gained so much knowledge over several generations of abuse. I often wonder why we are often so oblivious to how we damage our kids. What if by recognizing the damaging behavior that we as parents are responsible for, we saved the future of a survivor of abuse. If we could just focus what we have learned and stop a vicious cycle before they reach adulthood. They just may have a chance to recover and still reach their potential. The success of my theory lies in the hands of the parents. I know, I know...it sounds like taking a crazy big bite out of a rather vague cookie. Allow me to shed some light on this with some of my personal experiences that have led me to this conclusion.
I would like to start by saying that I think our lives are defined by our experiences whether good or bad, but especially by the results that come from our experiences. It is often hard to see what the point of it all is and why we have to endure such anguish throughout our lives. I have seen people cast God out of their hearts due to an angry confusion as to why God would let such a terrible thing like abuse happen to innocent children. I can only reply to that with a memory of something my mom told me a few years back. My daughter is autistic. When she was very small and before I knew that autism was what I was up against, I felt overwhelmed with sleepless nights and lack of understanding about why my child had her quirky "issues". I looked to my mom for guidance frequently. On one occasion, I was slightly wrapped up in self pity and my mother said something very profound to me. She said "Not just anyone could be Olivia's mom. Just you. God has chosen you for this job because you are the only one who can do it and he has already given you the tools you'll need to succeed through the triumphs in your life. Trust that He has a perfect plan for you and He will give what you need to get through each day." Well that night I reflected on my role thus far as a parent and came to some wonderful conclusions. I realized that while I was wrapped up in my selfish state of constantly feeling like I just had to get a break from my child. I knew I had been viewing my child as if she were a burden and I felt terrible about it. I was sitting in bed next to my sleeping child watching her, and for a moment, I truly imagined how I would feel if she wasn't there. At that moment, something changed inside me. I was aware of myself, my child, her precious heart, and what my sub concious selfishness could do to her potential for joy and fulfillment. She needed me and I owed it to her to help her. She was confused, overwhelmed, and scared and I had been emotionally abandoning her because of my own difficulty coping. My mom's words gave me strength and helped me to see more clearly. These words apply to all of us, in all our circumstances. Let this comfort you. Do not be afraid for the task at hand will require fearless strength of the heart. It will probably even take you through places you didn't want to go. There is comfort in God. Faith will heal you and show you the way. So here is what I have to say about abuse.
From the ages of six to ten years old, I was sexually and physically abused by my mom's second husband. I don't remember the first time he raped me. I don't know why. I might have been too young to retain the memory. Maybe it's my body's defense against trauma. Maybe my abuser's attacks were subtle and slow moving at first so that he could test the waters so to speak. My mind only lets me remember some of it, thank God, but I remember. He raped and beat me for 4 yrs right under my mom's nose. My abuser told me that if my mom found out she would hate me. The idea terrified me. My mom's love and approval was very important to me. She was all I had. I knew that she was so wrapped up in him that she was blind to all else, so I believed she would hate me, that I would be in trouble, and that I had done something horribly wrong. This infuriated me. My abuser spent about a year preparing for this in the courting phase of dating, so he knew just what would work and how he would brainwash us. I know his motivation was to sexually molest me from the very beginning of their relationship. He was the kind of predator that you would never see coming and my mom and I were the perfect prey. I recently read an article that touched on the topic of pedafiles choosing their victim's. They are careful in their choice. Often they pass up many opportunities waiting for the perfect set up. A lonely, naive, insecure, needy woman/man perhaps... with just the right set of "issues" that would enable their plan to be executed and go unnoticed. These type of abusers are manipulation masters. Do you think that an abuser would select their next victim to be the child of a mentally healthy, emotionally balanced parent? Of course not. The warning signs would be much more likely to be noticed. The most dangerous predators are the ones we don't see coming. I can promise you that. This is an illness for them. They are sick in the head and it is most likely the result of their own abusive childhood.
Every time he raped me I begged him not to and cried but he would beat me and rape me if I didn't do what he said. As I grew older, he started to loose interest in molesting me. Probably because I wasn't a little child anymore and that's what he liked...little girls. Sick huh? The assaults became less frequent, but still occurred. I will never forget the last time he raped me. After he was done, I was standing there full of rage. I suddenly felt strong for a moment and I looked him right in the eye and said "Someday someone is gonna find out about this and you are gonna be in big trouble!". He froze. He did not reply. He saw my face and he knew. A short time after that, I told my teacher at school. She was bound by law to report the matter and so she did. I was terrified! The school nurse called my mom and told her to come to the school immediately. When my mom arrived, the three of us were in the nurses office and she told my mom right in front of me. There I was...ten years old, completely terrified. Mostly of what my mother would do and if she was angry with me. Later on my mom told me that when she got the call from the school she almost called my abuser so that he would meet her at my school but something stopped her. We immediately went to the police station where they began taking our statements. I was taken to a room with a male detective where they video taped me showing them what he did with anatomically correct dolls. My mother was an absolute mess. We had to call my grandparents and tell them what had happened and we went to stay with them. When my mom called them she was so upset that she couldn't talk. The secretary wouldn't help and she handed me the phone. I remember my panic stricken grandma asking me what was wrong. I was the one who had to tell her. Nobody came to my rescue. I can honestly say it was the worst day of my life. You can't imagine. I had been helpless all those years with nobody to protect me. I was once again abandoned emotionally. This would be mistake number one. As a result of this nightmare, my abuser was arrested, eventually convicted, and I began to receive counseling.
The mental damage that a thing like that does is more extensive than most people realize. Instead of playing,learning,growing, and smiling, I had to worry about a the next time I was going to be forced to perform sexual acts with a grown man. A human child's body and mind are going through crucial and delicate development. It starts at conception. As an infant, our motor skills develop. We learn the nature of action and consequence. By the time we are toddlers, we've learned the art of manipulation. Even education facilities prescribe a certain curriculum for each grade level specifically because of the way our brains develop and how we learn. You can't read if you don't know your alphabet. You can't add if you can't count. Children learn their social habits from the example of their caregivers. If you are not exposed to healthy relationships, odds are you will learn and practice unhealthy relationship skills throughout your life. Then you will pass this behavior cycle onto your children and so on. These concepts are easy to understand, yet the vicious cycles of our ancestors are still a big issue for so many families. As each generation evolves, we have become better though. More and more people are seeing truth and breaking the cycle. I am a cycle breaker. So is anyone who opens their hearts to the horrible truths that we all face. Some of us aren't settling for the path of least resistance anymore. It is the tough road to take, but facing our dis function eyeball to eyeball actually frees us and our future generations. The dis function of the human race isn't a secret anymore. We have to wake up and step up. Make a difference. Save our children. If we don't, we are no better than the abusers that destroy the lives of our children. That sounds harsh but it is important to realize that.
During the four years of the abuse, I became an angry, hateful, mean child. Nobody knew what was happening to me, so I was treated like an outcast in my family. The mistakes they made when they overlooked what was happening to me didn't end when the truth came out. Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to bash my family. That was a long time ago and we are all better people now. I truly believe that this is pretty common and my family probably isn't the first to handle that type of situation incorrectly. Unfortunately, my family was freaked out when the truth came. This thing that had happened was very disturbing. They didn't like the way it made them feel. They thought since it wasn't happening anymore, everything should be normal now. Some didn't even believe me and may not still, to this day. Silence in this matter was required. I was never expected to be normal. In their eyes, I wasn't normal. In a hard to explain way,they heavily contributed to the lack of achievement and positive growth in my future. Since they believed I was bad, or weird, or a liar,or a lost cause, I believed it to. So by having below low expectations of me, not supporting me, and not nurturing the fear and pain I was experiencing with love, I was very unsuccessful in all areas of my life... School, growth,achievements,ambition,and potential. They unknowingly manifested the same damaging effect that the sexual abuse had started. As an adult, I still rely on my mom to help guide me when I am struggling. It gives me the strength to believe in myself and overcome. If I think my mom doubts me or isn't emotionally there for me, I regress,I give up, become angry, and lose strength. I think the job of a parent to teach and guide their children never ends. I have overcome a lot of the issues stemming from the abuse, but I still have quite a few. These things happened, and I survived. I grew wiser, stronger and I grew up.
I would say by far, that one of the most damaging consequences of my abuse was the destruction of my self esteem. The decisions in the life of someone who values themselves are totally different from someone who feels less than, or worthless. The result of one good or bad choice in life can change your future. Abuse victim's crave acceptance and are prone to follow the wrong crowd just to fit in. We were taught that love is shown through inappropriate physical ways so that's how we seek it. It is kind of like our brains were programmed wrong. So part of the solution is about reprogramming yourself to know what healthy habits and relationships really are suppose to be about. I indeed became promiscuous, I attempted suicide by the age of 12. Which was the start of many visits to several treatment facilities. I ran away from home three times by the age of thirteen. The third time I went to Florida to shack up with a recently released convict that I had only spoken with on the phone. I was gone for about a month until the police found me and sent me back to my mother on a greyhound bus. My mother thankfully brought my uncle with her t pick me up so she wouldn't kill me and drove me straight to a long term treatment facility where I spent the next two years. I had become pregnant in Florida and had an abortion shortly after my fourteenth birthday while at the treatment facility. I have had a tough run of things I didn't graduate high school or go to college. I have given birth to 4 children 3 of which I placed for adoption because I was so messed up that I couldn't care for them. I was very active in the adoption process and I don't regret my decisions, but they were very painful and I still carry some shame about having to make that decision not once, not twice, but three times. Yet here I am. So now I am trying to find my place in this world and do what I need to do to give my child the best life I can.
I am a parent now and I make mistakes all the time. So many people are hurting children everyday. Right this second a child is being raped. Since I know what that is like, it breaks my heart. Our children don't deserve that. It is an ongoing everyday problem that doesn't get ongoing everyday attention. The most common mistake I have noticed with parents today is selfishness. We are too caught up in ourselves that we often don't realize that while we are wrapped up in our emotions and personal desires , our children are suffering and they are watching us. They are inheriting our dis function. That should motivate us as parents to work hard to get better. Our children didn't ask to be brought into this world. They rely on us and they learn from us.
I am proud of the incredible strides I have made in my life and of the strength that I have as a result of them. I know that I have some healing and forgiving and a lot of hard work to do still. I went through a hell that nobody should go through and now, because my abuser damaged me, I have to work extra hard to fix myself? That sucks!It is an ugly, unfair truth that is difficult to accept and come to terms with. The fact is, as a victim of childhood sexual abuse, we have a choice. Either accept these truths and regain ownership of our actions and our feelings while moving forward towards a life of joy and fulfillment, or remain a slave to the past by allowing the damage to eat us alive, and allowing the abuser to continue to ruin our happiness and potential. I personally don't want my abuser to have control over my life anymore and I don't want other survivors to allow their abusers to affect their lives for as long as I did. It is not our fault and we need to stand up,take back our lives, and help give other surviving children their lives back. I know a lot of adult survivors are still suffering terribly. Maybe the lack of healing support has prolonged the pain and suffering and the damaging effects of childhood sexual abuse. If that's the case, I would say to you that while it isn't your fault, and it never was. It is your responsibility as an adult to take ownership of your own healing and your life. Don't empower others to define your level of success and happiness. Let go of the anger. Remember those who wronged you are only human and are capable of growth and change. You are valuable. You are beautiful. You have a wisdom that could be another survivors saving grace. To family and friends of young survivors...The abuse is over but the hard part has just begun. So put on some comfortable shoes and dig in. Do whatever it takes. Please don't avoid it cause it makes you feel weird. It's not about you. Be brave and believe. Love them. Thank you for taking the time to read this. God Bless.