New York State Child Victim’s Act

Wednesday the NY State Child Victims Act was passed. Victims now have till age 55 to sue abusers, and with it a one year window for victims of any age to do so. I could sue Tom. I thought of it right away when I heard it on the news, and said it aloud.

Family members, three left really, would turn on me, though it wouldn’t matter as I don’t have much to do with them anyway. They are closer to my abuser. Would they be if he had done it to them? 

No one seems to think about that, or think about me, not really. And only if I stay within the parameters they set, which is of course—no talking about it.. But I choose to believe that deep down they do care. But because nothing is spoken the divide remains complete. 

Mostly on this clip they talk about bringing those to court from the Boy Scouts, the Catholic church and schools. Nothing was said about families, though if the abuser was of age as Tom was, they can be sued.

In my case there is no evidence, just his word against mine. My guess is that in many families there would be no corroborating evidence. But there would be in more public arenas, hence more success at going forward with prosecution or civil suits. 

He is a slippery eel with a silver tongue. It is not worth it. Though he has begun to lose him memory, and with it probably a lot of his slickness. Bringing the suit might be enough. Just having papers served with a possible settlement. There it is in black and white. Done. Finally.

The truth he evades spoken. The truth he is afraid of, keeping me down because of it causing great damage to my psyche, out in the open where other family members no longer can save him. For once take it.  

Walking the meadow these thoughts came. While nuts fell from the hickory’s in the hedgerow, my sneakers crunching on their shells. Leaves wafting down signaling the early beginnings of fall, as the lush scents of the forest filled me.

It isn’t money, it is an apology that will never come. It is the others getting their heads out of their asses seeing me as I am… unafraid to speak the truth about the trauma of abuse.

Not brushing me under a rug. This is me, not the me you force me to be so that you will be comfortable and unashamed. I am not shameful, though you treat me so. The duality of living a lie for others is shattering.  

The knowledge that I could sue is empowering. Doing so in actuality would not be a healthy road for me, so I know I won’t. But the freedom to do what is right? Means everything.

No apology ever came from that man. He once approached it by only saying how young he was. That is all. He acted like the victim because I wouldn’t interact with him.

And it worked. With Mom, Seth— his best buddy, and Don who also buddy-upped with him, especially during Mom’s decline, leaving me out in the cold because of disagreements about her care. That hasn’t changed much in the ten years since her passing. 

They cling together pretending to be nice to me, but I am an embarrassment. A blemish. A memory not to be remembered. But I remember as if it were yesterday. All he took.

Never saying, “I’m sorry.”

No one stands testament to me, or my story. I had to find it elsewhere. With my husband, children and friends. Blood does not make family. I am happy, content. My belief is that Tom is sorry even if he wouldn’t say it. I have a cordial relationship with the other three. That is enough, it will have to be.. 

 

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Alone not Lonely

It is a rare family that discloses sexual abuse upon one of their own by one of their own. Instead the child is silenced due to the family’s shame. And she is left to hold the trauma’s within her and bear the load on tiny shoulders.

So much stolen. Family stolen. Family that grounds us, terrifies. Family that grounds, betrays. Family that grounds a person through life, gone.

Because a child grows, and she learns that it was not her fault, and she opens the wounds to heal. But family betrays her again. To remain she must be silent.

For many, taking a life all over again is too much, and she goes it alone. She has always been alone anyway. The ones who did it, the ones who knew and did nothing. And if they didn’t know then, they know now. 

And still betray. Still abandon. Still stay silent, as silent as she was forced to be. There is no one to stand testament to her pain. Not family. But others who become more family than blood. There is trust in the world if you persist in finding it. 

Home Sweet Home

Cory’s photos

“Would you rather come home instead of meeting at the lake house?” I asked Cory.

“Oh no, we have to have a lake,” Cory said.

And that was that. My cloak was to make it sound as if it might be a better choice for him. But I fear the real ploy was because I don’t do well in traffic or staying elsewhere.

But we made the best of it, enjoying our two year grand-daughter and son for three nights, four days. Long kayak rides, long talks, and constant playtime made it all worthwhile. During the visit his wife was at home directing the movers into their new home. Oh young people. My younger years were more energetic and adventurous too.

Now? Home is where my soul rests free. Home is where the adventures take place into my own self, connected to the world yet safely ensconced where all things are familiar. 

The call of certain birds living here, not there, so comforting. An early morning walk in the meadow with dewy grape leaves sparkled with jewels at every tip. Mist rising over the creek as the sun’s warmth begins to lift them away. 

A body jarred throughout life with adrenaline rushing through the veins becomes depleted. Taking care of my needs looks different from others. My illness isn’t seen except in the tears making rivers down my face expressing the stress of living.

Yet Cory’s challenges with the move, coming home to boxes up to his ears, and their commute today, three times as long as before, outweigh my challenges ten to one. Or so it seems.

In another place my body shuts down, all of it to some degree, the five senses, even internal organs. Nothing works as it is meant to because the warning bells have clanged. When danger is sensed all energy goes into survival.

My medication should be used more not less. But I laid awake hoping for sleep. When it doesn’t (of course) then I take it, waiting another hour in the dead silent darkness till sleep comes.

When away from home, why not take it an hour before sleep like I did in the forest when camping? Because my denial system keeps hoping for something that will never come, to become a person other than myself. One that hasn’t been traumatized, then living with it unprocessed. That has fractured my being in many unseen ways

The need now is constant loving care. I’m working on that, both the care and the love. Throw acceptance in the mix too.  

When apologizing for asking about how to meet my needs when we visit his new home in a month, Cory says offhandedly, “Any illness needs care and planning, just as much as someone in a wheelchair.” 

My son possesses unusual depth. Though I’m not one to use labels, sometimes it is just easier; PTSD, Anxiety NOS, Depression. The depression isn’t debilitating at the moment. There have been bouts that needed a support person, and may need one again in the future. But for now I limp along doing OK on my own. 

Accepting what is… Many tears come from not wanting it to be so. But Cory understood. And Samuel, as much as he is capable.

Home. Home Sweet Home. In spite of the challenges, I wouldn’t trade a moment of the very special, sweet memories. One of the best parts of going away is coming home.

 

SHE RISES

And then stillness. The waves subside and calm prevails. But for how long? Is it my mind observing how peaceful things have been stirring it up causing havoc just for variety? Or is it years of suppressing trauma, unprocessed at the time of the events due to the type of trauma; childhood sexual abuse.

Because no family will , (rarely) take that child and hold her in their arms lovingly. Or give her the medical and psychological intervention necessary to heal and have a life. Want a life.

How many times has the wish come for it all to be over? How many more times will I wish it? 

A child sexually abused is cast out. Not out in the middle of the road, naked, alone and cold. But inside, naked alone and cold…still with the monsters, and now the collusive family who wants her kept quiet.

There she shivers, from cold. From terror. From aloneness.

From there she must grow. Her body does even if she wishes not to. She must traverse all the steps of life that others climb, but her journey is always naked, alone and cold. No one to help, because she was trained not to ask, not to talk.

She is mute. Alone. Naked but no one sees. Reactive to every stimulus, because PTSD does that, makes every nerve on edge for what’s to come.

There are too many challenges making one wish not to be here. For it all to be over.

But she is a warrior. Each one a warrior, the ones that don’t make it too. No one knows this, not even her. But someday she does. One day she rises yet again, knocked down over and over, she rises, tries again, and begins to see, feel, and know that inside her resides courage, beauty, and strength.

She blooms into a powerful woman, a beautiful soul that shines from within radiating outward onto a aged face that sparkles with peace, knowledge, and depth.  

 

Captive of the Negative Brain

It’s the PTSD. Remember that? The thing that you spent most of your life not acknowledging because nobody else ever did. (which would have made it real, and more importantly would have brought intervention with the possibility of recovery) Laying my head down the thought comes, will I get to sleep tonight? Never a good sign. It is as if I’ve already made up my ever restless mind. 

PTSD made living so unbearable, wearing my body down over the years as I tried to keep up with others, so much that the effects became life-long. It literally broke something in the brain, and all the pathways to it. Negative thoughts  take hold choking me. There is science behind it, but don’t ask me to explain, or do a research paper. (I have enough to worry about) The neural pathways are funky, even the slightest disturbance fires them up.

That’s what happens when trauma goes unprocessed. My family, and most family’s, sure as hell won’t give credence to sexual abuse occurring within their midst. Intervention is crucial at the time of the trauma(s). Will it ever be? Will sexual abuse to a child by a family member, or friend of the family, or even the camp counselor ever be talked about openly? So that the child can process the trauma?

I know I would have needed to talk about it, all of it, over and over again. Just like my grand-son after the terrific car crash where his baby sister and mother were beside him as the  lights swirled, and the ambulance paramedics  loaded them all onto stretchers. 

He spent many visits with me in the garage and on the driveway putting up bright orange emergency cones, and turning on the red flashing lights Samuel had installed on his battery operated jeep. The story started with Mommy holding up her hurt arm, and his sister crying. But over time he became the paramedic saving everyone. The hero mastering the situation that threatened his psych now healed. He went on to other things, the crash no longer holding his mind, memory or nervous system hostage to the terror. . 

That is the intervention needed but never comes, a safe accepting environment where the trauma, like any other trauma, can be worked through with care, love and patience.  

That must change for our little girls (boys) to survive. The dirty details others are uncomfortable listening to need to be spoken. Only in hearing the evil things done to little ones will change occur. It is happening in your family, behind the closed door bedroom where the children are ‘exploring’ but it goes too far because one of them already knows more that they should, or in the tent out in the backyard, the tree-house at the neighbor’s, at Auntie Peg’s when Uncle George is home, at Scouts, camp, or anyplace when you are not watching, noticing, and intervening.

It could be as simple as saying, ‘OK you two, find another game to play,’ with a smile, not a look of horror on your face. Or keep the door open,  don’t allow long periods of time out in the cute little playhouse where nobody’s watching. Watch. Kids explore. And too often older kids, even young children, have learned too early what feels good ‘down there’ and act out for more on other children who don’t yet know.

Having sexual feelings awakened at too young an age causes it to expand to other children quickly. It isn’t always an adult, adolescent, or teen. It can be a child of the same age as your own child who had it done to them, and now knows about the powerful feelings that feel so good more is naturally wanted. 

Waking in the night, or unable to fall asleep without a sleep aid isn’t always about something wrong, something that needs changing, or something that needs paying attention to. Often everything is in its place, and my life is being lived in alignment with my beliefs and principles.

Nothing is wrong; everything is wrong. It is unprocessed trauma that damaged my systems permanently. It is PTSD, my little beast that won’t be tamed. My mind turns on the negatives which become louder in the darkness, rolling through like thunder, activating the system that has been on the edge since age 8.

The courage for family’s to intervene when Uncle Joe, Daddy, or even sometimes Mommy   sexually abuses a child at the time it occurs, saves her, and offers a road to complete healing. That is yet to come for most families who allow their shame to cause destruction to their daughters(sons). It just doesn’t happen, not yet. Not until we are brave enough to stand up and say this happens, and at a rate you don’t want to know about, which is why it happens. 

Recently I woke up dreaming of Tom. We were close by each other and seemingly alright, but I clearly remember thinking, He doesn’t know how badly he hurt me. He never asked, nor ever asked to be forgiven. No one did. The other three are dead. I don’t know about Chet’s two friends who also attacked me, having such fun while I suffered silently. 

I am 66. I still need to speak of what was done. I never had a chance to. And I may not live long enough to process it all and be done with it because the damage still causes suffering. I will do what I need to do until it is done. I want it to be done now, but wanting is not reality,  and denying what is doesn’t work. The damage is irreversible. Due to diligence, courage, strength and miracles, periods of graceful joy occur, then inevitably tumble into times that are not. 

Worthy to Heal

 

Rattling the cages of childhood, truths keep falling out. Tidbits of wisdom about what really occurred. Forced by shame to go on as if nothing happened made life oppressive in just about every way. Loneliness honed itself into a sharp, cloying, empty, bottomless pit devouring me for decades to come.

 Terror and trauma held into my little girl’s body changed me in ways I will never have as my own again. But I have me now. I am learning so much that my mother never wanted me to. Her ways were to just go on, the opposite of what was needed to heal.

Expecting me to be how she wanted me to be, how other little girls and young women were, caused a desperate need to fulfill her dreams. That yearning for acceptance and love broke down what was left inside even further. Who I was became lost beneath the façade of normalcy.

It is easier for family to go on without the shame of sexual abuse known, so the child abused takes it on. This damage follows a person for life. The toll to my body, mind, emotional well-being, and nervous system is severe.

The ‘tortured colon’ describe by my gastroenterologist? Which meant a tortuously painful colonoscopy until the anatomy of my colon became known. The constrictions and curvatures may have developed as a child by holding muscles in the pelvic area tight as a defense against further onslaught. It certainly was the reason for my skinny kid frame to become bloated and overweight, though that didn’t keep them off either.

And now, with peaceful lulls in my days and sleep filled nights… why are they suddenly disturbed by negative thoughts and insomnia? Because a brain broken by trauma held in unprocessed is incapable of sustaining happiness for long periods.

Knowing that gives me hope, because I can self-talk myself into believing that like every other woman sexually abused as a child, I do deserve happiness and peace. Happiness is peace; peace from negative thoughts, buzzing anxiety, a too fast paced life, and most of all blessed sleep.

These are basics that every child coming out of childhood deserves, human rights for all but that many don’t receive or develop. Beliefs forced onto a child form the personality. Shame, badness, and feelings of abnormality become cemented into the personality of a child suffering sexual attacks by those she loves.

Left to fend for myself caused irreparable damage. Self attacking traits carved in to me are a challenge to shift requiring a belief that I’m worthy along with the fortitude and persistence to take it on. 

 

 

 

 

JOY

People have always been fearsome. How could they not be when childhood was fraught with brothers who held me down, manipulated, lied, and broke trust so completely it never comes again? The snakes, bees, and killer bird are much more easily dealt with on this little plot of land called home.

And it is more home than ever was, because in it an internal home has also been found. Luckily the feeling of wholeness that others take for granted has occurred in me. First, writing the book, where the child in me let loose like a steam pot exploding.

Each week a chapter arose, one week joy, the next, severe pain. And most weeks included tears sliding down my cheeks sometimes in rivers. Sometimes needing a choking rain, but always healing in ways the word was meant to be.

Others in the origin family will interact with me, but only if the game of secrets is played, and only on their turf or in groups. The insanity of this brings upheavals of anguish, the mental confusion bringing only pain.

No one wants to know me as me. And I get it. We each have our own hell and cannot hear the other’s or let it in. Yet the façade of invisibility won’t wear on me anymore. It’s not that I want to talk about the past, just not be chained from it as it relates to my life now.

But you don’t want to know me, just own me, control me, and have me be a puppet. No. The craziness of this tips me over and I can’t have it. No.

People scare me, even those that call themselves family. There is a piece missing in me that has been lost forever. And these souls needy of their own take advantage of the hole. That is how it is.

So take joy in the life created, and know it is OK. You don’t have to fix what is not fixable. It is OK. You are OK, in fact beautiful.