Trigger warning: sexual abuse
I’ve started — and deleted — this post so many times over the past few years or so.
In fact, I’m writing it now, not knowing if I will get to the end before I change my mind and delete it all again.
I’m not really sure why I’m choosing now to go with it. Perhaps it’s because it’s nearly a year exactly since I asked Karl to leave and the taste of freedom is fresh in my mouth once more. Perhaps it’s because I finally feel like I have some control over my life, despite the crazy (and often hilarious) mishaps that I seem to go through on a regular basis. Perhaps it’s because of posts like Not guilty: A letter to my assaulter that shake my very core and remind me that I still have a long way to go in terms of building myself up again.
When I was 7 years old, I was told to lie down on my bedroom floor while my abuser rubbed himself up and down against me, dry-humping my body.
By the time I was 14, I had been touched, kissed, licked, tasted, rubbed, pushed, pulled, held, ordered and ultimately raped by that person more times than I can count. In fact, I can’t count, because I have blocked so many things out of my memory. Literally repressed things too overwhelming for me to contemplate. I have years of my childhood missing — taken from me — because my brain has decided that it’s easier to forget in chunks than it is to pick and choose.
I kept this inside me for years. Bottled up, eating away at me. Nightmares, every night for years and years, re-living pain and fear and embarrassment and shame and a whole host of other emotions too scary to name.
I was forced to share my story before I was ready, for reasons I can’t explain because it’s part of someone else’s story, and it was like being violated all over again. Sitting in front of a social worker, repeating to her every detail I could muster, salty tears pouring down my face and shame flushing me red. Realising as I went on that not only had she stopped taking notes, but that she clearly stopped listening (and believing) well before I’d even got started.
I remember hearing the words excusing his behaviour fall out of her mouth. Being asked if I ever said no. Hearing her tell me that he was probably abused too and that’s why he did it, and not knowing how to respond; staring at the cat earrings dangling from her stubby ears because it was easier than looking her in the eye. Being told I would be sent information on counselling for abuse survivors only for it to never arrive.
I finally came to terms with my mind — my private space — being violated by that social worker when I started talking to a counsellor, back in April of last year. Telling my story in my way, sharing things I was sure made me damaged goods. Spilling secrets from the very depths of my soul, things I never thought I’d be able to tell anyone. I started to came to terms with the effects it had on my body and how I see myself physically and sexually little over a month later, when I met someone who would do more for me in the space of a year than I even thought possible. But more about that another day.
Ironically, I guess, I was pushed into counselling by the very person who’d occupied every physical and mental space in my life since the original abuse stopped. His pushing led to the realisation that I’d never really got away from suffering and fear and ultimately led me to end my 12 year relationship.
I forgave my childhood abuser a long time ago. I’m not angry at him, I don’t carry a grudge. In fact perhaps hardest of all is knowing that I miss him: miss the person he was, the person he could be. I miss his smile, his humour, his deep loyalty to his family. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to tell him that because I don’t know where he is now, but I would stand inches from him, look him in the eye and repeat those words to his face.
I can only hope that one day I find the same strength to forgive the person who stood in the way of me doing so 12 years ago.