Identify the Victim, Identify the Perpetrator

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According to my stepfather, he was the victim of my sexual abuse. In his way of thinking, he wasn’t responsible for what happened between us.

He said over and over to me “See how much you want me Kimmy”, “See what you make my dick do Sissy” and “I can’t help myself, Sissy, you are so beautiful.” To him, I wanted him. He would do things to make sure I was sexually excited and then tell me ” See how much you want me?”

Because he had said things like this to me for years, I thought it was my idea to have sex with him. This was one of the reasons I felt guilty when I told, I thought I was telling on myself.

It was the summer of 1975 when I told Mom Jack and I had been sleeping together. I sat in a folding lawn chair in the backyard. My body felt heavy like I wasn’t going to be strong enough to hold myself up. I felt it everywhere. I was breathing shallowly, feeling slightly dizzy from the lack of oxygen.

When I said, “Jack and I had been sleeping together”… (wrong I know now). I remember thinking I would be in so much trouble because I had wanted to do all those bad things. Somehow at the age of 4, I had the idea to have oral sex with a grown man, somehow, it was my idea, I felt like I was telling on myself for having done something wrong.

It was disastrous telling her, she responded by asking was there anyone else who knew. I said yes, my uncles, cause Jack had tried to get them to have sex with me. So she left to talk to them about what happened. That was it. No nothing else.

Later Jack came home and asked where she was. He told me to get the kids in bed, so I climbed in bed with my little sisters, while the boys got in bed in their room.

We all fell asleep. Later I woke up with Jack and Mom arguing in the kitchen, Mom saying “why would she say something like that?”

He responded with I don’t know, maybe she didn’t want to do the dishes anymore.

They were back and forth for the longest time while I drifted off again. There was a little bit of hurt when he said what I had told was being reduced to something so petty as not wanting to do dishes.

Later, he complained to me about how I had upset my Mom and gotten him in trouble.

So when I look back on this I realize that I thought I was the problem, I caused him to do what he had done for years. It took years for me to correct my own thinking. I didn’t cause him to do anything, He did it. He was the perpetrator, he was the criminal, I was a child, I know now how I had to distort my own thinking in an effort to cope with the things he did to me and how I tried to make sense of it in my young child mind.

And recovery takes so long because there is so much sorting out to be done. Because I was so young, I didn’t have a basis for what was wrong or right. And my whole childhood was built around those lies he told me.

Now I can identify that I am the victim, he was the perpetrator of a series of crimes. Not just to me, but my whole family.

Recently a friend died who experienced childhood sexual abuse.

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She never told anyone in her family about what happened when her uncle sexually assaulted her at the age of 10. She went to her grave thinking she was protecting her family by not disclosing what happened.

It reminds me of all the women I have known who were sexually violated as children by family members. There are too many.   Most of them wouldn’t tell another soul what happened.

This particular friend said she was going to get over it, that it somehow didn’t really hurt her as much when she was young, As a middle-aged adult she understood exactly how it hurt her and it was too much to bear at times. The damage to her ability to trust others, to love deeply, to accomplish things in her life.  She wanted to feel healthy and whole and trusting.

But she (and to some degree all of the people who are sexually violated) don’t feel much of anything good.  She felt so conflicted.  She wished she had told what happened when it happened, but since it had been so long ago, she felt it wouldn’t do any good at all, just cause trouble.  She felt so isolated, because she didn’t and wouldn’t tell.

I think about the people who I have known in my life who physically survived. Emotionally didn’t make it through.  It breaks my heart to know so many who didn’t survive at all.  It occurs to me there is little hope in stopping childhood sexual abuse except to tell. Until the people who haven’t experienced it are on our side. Until they can see that the numbers of survivors is bigger than we think. That the damage is persistent and life long.

Not one person alone can make this happen, but if enough children who grow into adults tell what happened to them as children, then we can do something about it. It’s by telling what we experienced and who did it that we can stop it. It helps us get over feeling powerless. It is how we can do something about it.

Things I did to get over being raped as a child

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  1. I learned as much as I could about childhood sexual abuse.
  2. I started journaling.
  3. I told people what happened to me.
  4. I kept talking about it to my immediate family. Just couldn’t drop it.
  5. I became a counselor.
  6. I exercised.
  7. I had massages.
  8. I had a child.
  9. I married, twice. Both times to great men.
  10. I never moved back to my family.
  11. I learned how to cook.
  12. I listened to great music.
  13. I learned there were plenty of kind men in my world.
  14. I dressed badly. Kinda still do.
  15. I knowingly put myself in dangerous situations.
  16. I slept around with people I didn’t know or care about.
  17. I avoided my family.
  18. I went to therapy. Group and individual.
  19. I learned to accept compliments.
  20. I learned how to have friends.
  21. I moved to several different states to start over again and again.
  22. I talked about it with my sisters incessantly.
  23. I under ate food.
  24. I went into the Army.
  25. I never learned to play a musical instrument.
  26. I learned how to take care of my home.
  27. I hid out at my house.
  28. I pretended everything was fine.
  29. I lied about how I felt.
  30. I took up religion.
  31. I dropped religion.
  32. I learned how to listen to other people.
  33. I did destructive things to myself.
  34. I cried a lot when I was older.
  35. I overworked to hide from being close to others.
  36. I hated men for a while.
  37. I went to college.
  38. I stopped doing things before they were completed.
  39. I lacked trust in my own perceptions.
  40. I feared way too many things.
  41. I had terrible boundaries until I was much older.
  42. I had nightmares for years.
  43. I learned self defense.
  44. I’m learning how to be comfortable with all of me.
  45. I learned how to not rush through my feelings.
  46. I learned how to protect vulnerable people and animals.
  47. I quit hiding my woundedness.
  48. I quit lying about it.
  49. I tried to drink alcohol, but didn’t like how it felt.
  50. I stayed emotionally stopped up for years.

What kind of things did you try or do to help heal. Any comments?