Just over two years ago I made the hardest decision in my life to date. I made the choice to disclose to you the abuse I had experienced through my childhood up into my teens. After staying silent for 25 years of my life I was finally done with pretending like everything was ok, done pretending like this person in our family wasn’t my abuser. At the time I was making the decision to come forward with my truth I was in school for Child and Youth Worker. With the nature of the program I was forced to have all my unresolved issues come to the surface. Therefore I started really struggling with what I went through and kept supressed for so long. A lot of what I went through I didn’t even really understand until I became more educated through my school. The frequent shortness of breath, overthinking, and feeling like I was dying over the smallest things throughout my whole life- I came to realize was anxiety. The constant thoughts about death and fantasizing about my death and funeral, self -harming from a young age- I came to learn was depression. The boundaries that were severely overstepped, the inappropriate touching, the inappropriate comments, taking advantage of a child, the abuse of trust- I came to learn was sexual abuse. Until I started to learn through my education as well as get triggered by much of the content I didn’t really understand what mental health issues were and that I had them, and the fact that I was the victim of sexual abuse.
I was working on a group project on educating grade ones on “bad touching” and it severely triggered me because I was around that age when I met my abuser and he started abusing me. All the trauma I had buried so deep inside me and kept locked away was coming up and I could no longer keep it hidden. That was why I knew I could no longer continue to be around my abuser and act like they were a good person, part of a happy, healthy family. That’s why I decided to disclose to you about what I had been though, you who were also supposed to be family. I was terrified to finally tell my truth after all these years, I suspected some of you would choose not to believe me but I had to hope some of you would. I especially so badly wanted the one to believe me to be the one who had never been there for me, never shown me the love and nurturing that a mother was supposed to give, never protected me. I hoped that somehow telling you the truth would bring the mother in to my life I always dreamed of having. But nonetheless, you remained the same as you had always been, Unstable, accusatory, and uncaring. I had learned through the years why you were the way you were, that you also have been through a lot in your life to make you the way you are. Although the one thing I fail to understand is how a mother can turn her back on her daughter and choose the side of an abuser when ironically, the mother also suffered from abuse in her life and also was not believed. You should’ve been the one to understand me the most, the one to help me pick up the pieces and protect me. Instead you also turned your back, and not only ignored the truth, but decided to make up lies about me. I guess it’s easier to avoid the pain of the truth by ignoring it and replacing it with whatever stories make you feel better. I could see how hard it would be to acknowledge the fact that you brought an abuser into our home and made me vulnerable to them instead of being my protector, a coward.
For the rest of you who also chose to turn your backs and not believe me, I understand how shocking it is to learn such a horrible thing about someone you loved, someone considered a father, son, brother, uncle. Especially when things seemed fine for years and we all seemed like a happy, somewhat normal family. I know it is hard for people to understand especially if they aren’t educated on abuse and mental health, is that it is so hard to come forward with the truth. The reason why it took me 25 years to come forward and why many many many victims of childhood sexual abuse don’t come forward until decades later- embarrassment and shame. For the longest time I was so embarrassed and ashamed, as if it were somehow my fault that I was put through years of abuse. I was also terrified of speaking up, feared that I wouldn’t be believed, and well that point has been well proven. Even though I was scared of being cut out from the family I knew I finally had to tell the truth, I needed to feel empowered so I could finally move forward and heal. Even though I told my painful truth and wanted to move forward I couldn’t because I wasn’t listened to. The world can be a lonely place when the people supposed to be your family turn their backs when you needed them the most. I suffer from PTSD from the lack of support from you, people I thought were family. I often wake up sweaty, unable to breathe from nightmares reliving the trauma of no one believing me. I have anxiety and often suffer from panic attacks. I also have depression and when I first came out and told you all my truth and you turned your backs, I reverted back to self -harm. Luckily though, having my amazing fiancé and his wonderful family there for me really was a staple in helping me through, because if I didn’t have them I would have no one.
When I had told you my story & you turned your backs, I quit my job out of fear of seeing any of you there or bumping into you. For a while I would be scared going to places where I thought I might see you, the ones who painfully ignored my truth. All along my supportive, wonderful fiancé had been telling me “You shouldn’t be scared or embarrassed, THEY should be ashamed & embarrassed of their selves.” It took me a while to see it but he is right. I am finally proud of myself for having the courage to speak up & tell my story after all these years. I’m proud of myself for being so strong & continuing my journey of healing without any of you by my side. All along the only person I needed to believe in me was myself. I’m also proud of myself for being a part of a growing movement where turning your back and ignoring victims of sexual abuse will no longer be tolerated. Women need to stick together and support one another in a time of painful truths, we need to stand united FOR each other, not against. If you, someone who was supposed to be family but chose to ignore me when I was trying to be heard but yet are someone who feels empowered by the #metoo campaign & all the current sexual harassment/abuse stories coming to light-making a difference starts in our own backyards. How can you feel empathy for a complete stranger coming forward with her brave story of strength & resiliency but yet choose to ignore someone in your own life? If someone trusts you enough to disclose something so private and painful, believe them. Support them, listen to them. No matter who is telling you their story, their truth, listen. Us survivors, brave, resilient, fucking warriors- we just want to be empowered so we can move forward and heal. We just want our truth to finally be heard.