This one is going to be difficult. I’ve harbored a dark secret since I was 6/7 years old. Much of it I had completely pushed out of my consciousness. The memories I did recall, I downplayed, and trivialized, and self-blamed. These are all common coping mechanisms displayed by victims of sexual trauma, and recently, I came to the horrifying conclusion that I am one of them.
In my first post, I talked about some of the the awful things I had witness as a child. As bad as they were, I don’t believe they damaged my psyche the way my abuser did. I’m going to recount this, because I have never actually written it out. In fact, I hadn’t ever told anyone until I recently began see a therapist. So here goes…
First thing I want to get out of the way: my abuser was another child. Yes, that is a thing. Fittingly, it is referred to as “child-on-child sexual abuse.” And no, it’s not the normal experimentation that kids do. I’m familiar with that. Rest assured, when I refer to it as abuse, you can take that to mean unwanted, coercive, inappropriate sex acts. I’m not going to go into lurid detail, but suffice it to say, Ricky (we’ll call him Ricky) was likely being abused by an adult as his sexual knowledge far exceeded that of a normal seven year old.
Being able to characterize what happened as “abuse,” and to refer to him as my “abuser” has taken me many many many hours of gut wrenching therapy. I recall after having come home from a particularly tough session, I worked out and then took a shower. As I stood there under the water, I had what can only be described as a flashback. I have never experienced such a thing, but it was…visceral. There are really no words. It’s like stepping into a time machine and reliving the experience in all its details within the blink of an eye. Sights, sounds, smells, taste, all of my senses from a particular abusive episode came rushing back to me in an instant. The worst part of it was that this particular memory was one I had completely suppressed. Even writing about it now, I can feel my heart racing. I can smell his room. I can hear his fish tank quietly humming next to the bed.
I will recall the worst memory of this abuse. One day, we were in his room and he had started in on me. His mother came in the room with a laundry basket in her hands. She said, “Sam! I’m so disappointed in you!” She told me to get dressed and that she was calling my mother. I begged her not to. She wouldn’t listen. Ricky laughed nervously. As I waited for my mother to come pick me up, I sobbed in his room. When she came, I stood on the driveway with Ricky’s mother and relived the indignity of it all as she described what she had discovered to my mother.
My mother assumed it was normal exploration and told me not to worry. I wish she had dug a little deeper because after that, I kept it all in. I never discussed it to anyone, ever. I was seven years old and I took the full weight of being a victim on my own shoulders, with no one to ease the load. Over the years, I developed coping mechanisms: it wasn’t really abuse, it’s not like he tied me down, I was part to the act even if I didn’t want it, it was my fault.
The worst coping mechanism I developed was alcohol abuse, which I used for 20 years. I will recount that part of my story in another post. I will say that getting sober and seeing a therapist forced me to confront the abuse and process it. Without my therapist, I would have continued to let it slowly destroy me from the inside out. Thank you Shannon. I will never be able to repay you or express the level of my gratitude for what you’ve done for me.
I’m rambling now. I’ll talk about alcoholism in a future post. In my next post, I’ll finish my History of Depression series.