A Victim’s Voice

by Be Heard on September 7, 2012

in Bullying, Sex & Relationships

I’ve had an epiphany (or nine) of sorts. There are a few things that have been clarified in my head over the past few weeks and I felt the need to put them down on paper, or rather in this electronic public diary of sorts, just in case the general goings on of life cloud my vision in the not too distant future.

I spent a great deal of my life hiding my true feelings, keeping them to myself and I don’t know why. I have always been an emotional creature but my emotions are often masked by and expressed through anger. Anger, raging, tears, depression; and I hate to quote the Sopranos here, but as Dr. Melfi (one of the world’s worst therapists) said “Depression is rage turned inward.” Isn’t it funny how the most random of things will make crystal clear your past or your present?

Through the medium of blogging, I have been given a chance to write about my experience, who I am and who I hope to be. I want to give a voice to who I was as a child because I shut her up a long time ago. Until that voice is heard, acknowledged and that freckle-faced long-haired child is healed, I cannot be the woman I was intended to be.I went through a physical therapy massage today at my home that unleashed an unexpected and terrifying memory, a vision of myself, a sticky handed wild-haired 7 year old with dark brown carpet making my face itch and a slick, black coating of bone deep fear coppery and spicy on my tongue.

I knew logically that I was physically in my current bedroom, on a massage table, but somehow in my mind’s eye, I was transported to a moment of trauma I didn’t realize even existedin my past. And, like a cork bobbing in the water, no sooner had that memory begun to surface but I shoved it back under the bubbling black loch of my psyche.

I have memories known and unknown that I keep buried deep. Deep where I cannot see, remember, and feel the confusion, the hurt, and the ever-present fear. Tonight as I sit and look at my lake of memories – they seem to me like the bog of lost souls that Frodo must cross into Mordor. I want to sink with them; I want to free them, but I’m paralyzed and terrified.I’m tired of being scared and being silent.

I am a survivor of sexual abuse.

I’m a survivor, damn it. I am not a victim.

I am more than the sum of my abusers’ acts. I am what I am in spite of them, not because.

Funny how the predator always finds the prey. Funny how everywhere I went – they found me. Schools, churches, work, even college. Predators recognized the prey and pounced. Like a sheep led to slaughter, I allowed myself to be taken, to believe the lies that I was “special,” to believe the threats that the world would hate me if they knew. I allowed them to decide what I was worth, and allowed myself to be used and to be disposable. Was it because of them or in spite of them that I recognize the predator, that I married two?

They were both predators in their own way; the first in the way I knew and recognized and – god help me – sought. I knew what he was. I recognized him as much as he recognized what he sought in me. I was as much to blame as he, perhaps more so. It was what I knew, could understand, and what I later found, I couldn’t bear to hold.

The second man recognized the broken, the weary, the crazy, the heartbroken, and took what was easy. He took what was safe, what was easy to mold and to stand in the shadows and say “look at how I’ve helped her.” There I was, grateful to be wanted in any way, even as his project, even as his provider, even as I became what he wanted me to be and lost all remnants of the victim. I lost all scope of my childhood; my roots, my family, my heritage, my religion, everything that was, everything that reminded me of her was wiped away.

I made my choices - I don’t blame them. They are exactly who they’ve always been. Nothing more. Nothing less.

The carefully crafted boxes, safes, walls and submerged traps of my making are disintegrating. I cannot hold them back and like sand slipping through my fingers, the harder I grab, the more I lose. The harder I push them back, the faster they are surfacing, the harder I resist, the faster the pain woven into the very muscles of my body is breaking out and forcing me to stop      -        Stop            -       STOP.

Listen. Know.

Let it hurt. Let it bleed. And for the love of God, let it heal.

Vanessa lives in Palmer, Alaska. She is an accountant, theater nerd, collector of trashy romance novels, occasional blogger, wife to an incredibly patient (and sexy) combat veteran, and mother of four busy kids ages 9, 8, 7, and 6. In her spare time, she is also a full time college student and works on feeding a burgeoning Pinterest addiction.

Cmg September 7, 2012 at 9:11 am

Vanessa, you said it all in your last line. The only way through this is to let it be. Acknowledge it, feel it, experience it, process it and let it go. My very best to you – I wish you strength and courage and love.

jenn September 7, 2012 at 9:43 am

Thank you! Thank you for having the courage to write this! I could have written about 95% of it myself. For years and years, because of what was done and what was said and how I was manipulated, I had the hardest time believing and admitting and accepting that any abuse I remembered was legitimate, or believing that it wasn’t actually my fault. The release and the healing that comes from admitting it, talking about it, allowing yourself to accept it was done TO you, is worth the pain and struggle.

I recently had a similar experience where a memory came back to me and I realized there was a lot, much much more than I previous thought, that I had shut out and forgotten. Right now I’m trying to decide if it’s something I want to explore, now that I am in a really healthy, content place and have the mental, emotional, and relational security to take me through it, or to just accept that there were things that were so damaging and awful that there was a reason I have blocked it out and to just let it be.

Anna September 7, 2012 at 9:46 am

I, like you, am working through past sexual abuse issues. One thing that has been helping me get through some of this muck has been EMDR. It is often used with combat veterans to help with PTSD, which, of course, many of us survivors have as well. My counselor is wonderful, and the EMDR has helped me get at and through things I had kept buried for decades. Although I do not have all the memories back, I am much better and much less reactionary (anger, tears, etc) than I was. Wishing you all the best from a fellow survivor.

Nuala Reilly September 7, 2012 at 10:23 am

I LOVE THIS. I had an actual therapist tell me that it was MY fault that I still occasionally get involved with people who are toxic for me because I was subconsiously seeking out repetition of someone who hurt me very deeply in my past. NOT what I needed to hear.
You brought tears to my eyes this morning.
Thank you for sharing.

Vanessa September 7, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Thank you all so much for your thoughts. I have been working through this jumbled mess of repressed memories and vague pain for such a long time. I was incredibly cathartic writing it all out and I am so pleased to know others found it touching. You are all an encouragement and I thank you from the bottom of my heart!!!!

Bright September 7, 2012 at 11:15 pm

I can’t stop crying. My memories are always with me, I stopped trying to put them away a long time ago because I couldnt stop them. It’s been 22 years since it ended, since I was sent away, and I’m still SO FLIPPIN ANGRY. I was given the chance to confront him when I was 8 during therapy…what does an 8 year old child say? Those were the days that I completely shut down any time it was brought up. I wish I had talked to someone. I am stronger and better despite him, but I have no idea how to deal with the disappointment and anger and random depression and sense of loss for my childhood and innocence. I still don’t want to talk about it, but I do at the same time. Anyway. Thank you for being strong enough to talk about it. You aren’t alone.

Anna September 8, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Dear Bright,

First, please know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the shame of what happened is not yours to carry and never was. The one who abused you deserves that shame. I know, too, how the anger can go, how you feel robbed not just of childhood but of a “normal” life, and how the shame can come up at random times like an overwhelming dark cloud. I was sexually abused as a small child by a male babysitter and then raped by a doctor when I was 21. There’s this feeling that somehow I “ought” to have been able to prevent all this from happening to me, but that was not how it worked.

We have to learn to forgive ourselves first, even though often what we are really trying to forgive is our powerlessness to keep something so horrid from happening to us — whether we really could have done so or not. It takes awhile to be able to see past that mistaken belief and let go of the pain of not having been able to protect ourselves. Predators look for prey, and they chose us. There is no why answer to that. They just did. And they were wrong, evilly cruelly wrong.

I still struggle with anger at times, but going through the EMDR treatment has really helped me unlock a lot of the pain so it could be released. It helped me get at the truth I had buried for so long, and even though I do not have all the memories back, it is coming as it needs to, in stages. I am working through forgiveness not for them, but for me, to free me from being shackled to that pain and shame. Now I am better able to cope with the feelings, to move from helpless victim to strong Survivor.

Wishing you all the best in your own healing journey. Take courage. You are not alone.

Tara Willis September 8, 2012 at 5:39 am

So beautiful, so brave and so full of heart and spirit! It is so true. YOu are not a victim anymore. I am so proud of you! I celebrate with you the woman you have become, strong and loving and beautiful! I know this may help other women to put a voice to their hidden pain and grow into the wonderous person they are inside that they have suppressed. what was intended for evil has been used for good. I love you vanessa. keep writing :)

Lisa Sollenberger September 8, 2012 at 6:00 am

Hello Vanessa. What a powerful story, yet even more inspirational is your attitude towards life! I love the way you have come to embrace ALL OF YOU, which has given you the strength to live a happy, fulfilling life, and a very busy one at that! From cradle to grave, so much good and bad happens to us in this life, but it does NOT define who we are, WE DO…a truth you have embraced. Thankyou for sharing your story, but more than that, thankyou for having the courage and determination to step into who you really are…a woman full of grace and beauty. Keep sharing, so many women can learn from your experience and gain great insight along their own personal journey’s back to THEMSELVES.
With Great Love and Respect,
~Lisa

W

Jessica Hildebran September 8, 2012 at 11:30 pm

Vanessa,
I have not had the opportunity to meet you in person, but when I do get that chance I want to give you such an enormous hug!! You are an excellent writer. I am in tears. I struggle with any thought of adults hurting children in any way, because I know all too well what those soul-crushing memories will cost them in the future. I love that you are finding a voice for that little girl. My graduate advisor (and counselor) suggested that same idea to me…I just haven’t found the emotional energy I know it will take to let go and let God. While my story isn’t the same as yours or anyone else’s, the sheer power you take back by confronting the hurt is life changing! Gaining control or letting go of anger is the healthiest method to living a happy life…too bad it takes children of abuse so long in life to figure that out…I’m rounding 33 heading to 34 and finally, *finally* able to let some of that anger go. I just keep wondering what reason I have to keep the anger…it really does me no good. Sometimes I feel like a confrontation with the abuser would help, but would I really get what I want from that? I want answers to many questions that I *know* he would not answer truthfully. Abusers are monsters. Plain and simple. Keep giving that little girl a voice and she’ll let you know how to move on.
((hugs))
Jessica

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