The Cruelest Abuse

Families are more interested in their reputation than the child sexually attacked. Be quiet and love your attacker.

To expect a child to swallow all that terrifying trauma and go on instead of intervening and assisting the child to process it causes life-long injury. At 64, my highly reactive startle reflex has not improved along with many other things. Some challenges increase as years pass. One does not ‘get over it,’ heal, or move on because no one came to help. All that trauma went inside causing more damage. The bleeding never stops.

Sexual attacks to a child are as horrific as being hit by a locomotive. In that case all come to help. She is allowed to talk about it as long as she needs to with incoming sympathy, compassion and condolences. Processing trauma helps heal the brain and all other systems. Without that processing the brain is injured and she is affected on all levels, spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

But a child is hushed up because of the fear of how their reputations will be affected. The pretense of caring is put forth but no real care is given. People hurdle together to protect themselves.

Will one person stand up, bear witness, possess character and say this is wrong, and put a protective arm around her shoulder? The attacker needs to repent and beg forgiveness with true sorrow. That is what the family needs to focus on, not hushing her up.

Going along with the pretense of family in order to have one kept me from myself where home has been found, and truth resides with authenticity. 

 

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shattered yet whole

photo by Patricia

The days remain warm heating my shoulders as walking rounds in the meadow accumulate, feet crunching on hickory nuts in the path along the hedgerow. Soon the squirrels will have them all buried. The studio beckons as sun rays splash a golden yellow swath on the work table inviting me to return to the newest project sitting unfinished for months.

The deep peace felt is not that the world outside is calm and reposed, it is forthcoming because it comes from within. When one lives a life in line with their values, beliefs and morals, peace comes even if whirlwinds blow outside. The search for it since childhood has escaped me. And that is because the parts flew unconnected. How could they not?

Telling my story was the beginning of wholeness. Then telling those one thought would care but do not, caused a rift filled grief that catapulted me into acceptance once the painful tornado worked through. Then peace came. The work is done,  come what may.   

In the Moment

I feel such peace and stillness. There has not been a time when I’ve felt such calm nor connectedness within my being. I cherish this reprieve, this period of quiet happiness.

The unusual heat was swept away with the wind as leaves swirled. The walk near the creek crunches heavily as the thick carpet of newly fallen leaves crackles under the weight of my feet. Capris are replaced by sweat pants as the temperature dips from 90 to 60 and the change brings relief even though the clouds hide the sun.

The air is full of sweet earthy composting as the fruits of summer decay, the scent going straight to my core. Snapping back to Now, my eyes feast on the rusts, golds, and yellows as the lush greens wither and die. Soon the trees will be bare but there are other delights to be enjoyed as each season brings its unique smorgasbord of treats if one is aware enough to take it in.

Often during the day my tendency to be ahead of where I am causes me to internally speak, slow down. Be with what you are doing in this moment. Because I’m always rushing ahead of where I am to the destination, but then there is another. Now is the destination. What you are doing at this moment is where you need to be.

ONLY CHILD

The fantasy of being an only child sometimes arises. Four remaining siblings cling together in the pretense of family including the last of the abusers. My assertion that each not speak to me about him, along with hearing that I wrote a memoir seemed to cast me out and draw them tighter.

This is a great gift allowing for spaciousness, freedom and vast personal growth. This period in my life has offered peace, stillness and happiness never known before. Feelings of wholeness filled within after speaking my truth and asserting my needs. Live and let live. Live and let die. You have a right to live your life as I do mine. 

RIGHTEOUSNESS IN NUMBERS

foggy sunrise-photo by Patricia

Being a child sexually abused by a family member is a special kind of hell. Family will turn against her clinging to each other if she speaks of it. And that is for life. They gather round the abuser exalting him. At least it seems that way to the child now woman.

Some may find support from family, but many must fend for themselves and make their own family. She returns time and again hoping. She is alone and in her aloneness finds freedom. Eventually the reality holds memories without pain.

The Silence That Shatters

Part of the trauma of childhood sexual abuse is the silence. Be quiet. Keep all that in on tiny shoulders. Love the ones who attack you. It is more traumatizing that the attacks themselves.

Attacks are typically soft, quiet and manipulative, as violent in nature as brute force due to the destruction caused to the child’s psyche. Each one is an attack on a little body taking a bit of the child each time. Each attempt at telling, often ignored, destroys her confidence until little is left of the child but a shell. 

Ingrained into a child at the time of abuse— be quiet, take it in as yours. The only thing that matters is the comfort of others. Victimization, feeling ostracized, muzzled and afraid follows her throughout life. Talking out loud about childhood sexual abuse makes others uncomfortable, especially those in relationships with the abuser(s).

Even now in my 60’s talking to those left in the group of people I was born into with my authentic self is not allowed. They cling together, ostracizing me, grasping at the hope for some semblance of ‘family.’ My presence disrupts the fantasy.

But that is not a family and never was. The freedom from wanting what never was unfolds with endless possibilities of discovery.

ALONE

photo by Patricia

The aloneness of childhood sexual abuse may be one of the hardest to live with in the aftermath. It is not a ‘lonely’ like any others. It is a scratching and clawing on internal walls aching for relief. The spirit insists on splitting from the body and its feelings.

Run. Get away from the feelings but where—toxic behaviors, substances, activities, the list of how and where to run is as long and creative as each person abused as a child. Leaning on others helped until the running stopped.

Venturing into the pain with curiosity and patience as my pen wrote brought out the black tar and along with it the joys. With each chapter my internal world became spacious as the chaos slowly bubbled up and peace settled into places where trauma had been. 

Writing the memoir released my real life for the very first time. With it came sadness, pain and joy. Because when trauma is suppressed so is everything else.

Locked below with the silence, the shadow of a child grew into a ghost of a woman. Forced to stifle horror caused separation and loneliness so great she had to run because nowhere was OK especially inside herself. All the feelings were bumping into themselves.

The child surrendered to the will of the ‘family.’ How could she not, it was the only family she had. Families silence the child because no one should know of their shame and what one of them did. So she shall be ashamed. It is what will keep her silent.

It is also what will keep her from herself with no real friend because she is not her own friend. Nor does anyone know what she endured. She learns to turn on herself as her family does though they disguise it. She is alone. It looks like she is in a family, but she is alone adrift like a dinghy cut loose from the mother ship.

Unable to connect to her center she runs from the scraping and clawing aloneness inside herself. She runs until she can run no longer.  When she stops running she faces the beast of her past. Behind the rage there is terror and deep sadness. It takes years to settle the score. Not towards others but inside where she now needs to connect and learn to love what others discarded. 

She faces the beast of her truth. Some draw, others write, dance or sing, but the beast is cut down with every memory that has been silenced. When the trauma well is emptied stillness provides a place for peace to come. Tears bring relief and when the warring inside is over she can began the process of recovery which may take her lifetime.

The shackles of invisibility fall as she speaks her truth. Her authentic self emerges because she has courageously opened the jail door to freedom.