This is a brief summary of my story…
I was sexually abused by a close family member for nearly 7 years as a child. It happened frequently, I felt scared, violated and powerless. It stopped when I was almost 13 years of age. I kept this a secret until I was 27. I suppressed my memories, feelings and emotions for much of my life.
How this came to be…
I was brought up in a disciplined household as a child, had respect for my parents and encompassed a caring, yet protective nature with my siblings. I was a ‘pleaser’, always wanting everyone else to feel loved, protected, valued and happy, little did I know how to experience this for myself.
I was an academic student during my school years, a high achiever and loved competing in a variety of sports. From school I went on to complete my nursing degree at University. I soon began a career as a registered nurse, caring for and helping others.
During my 20’s I had developed my independence – personally, financially, in friendships, relationships and my career. But, I realised I still wasn’t living a completely honest and happy life – although to the outside world no one would know my inner battle.
My secret continued to become more difficult to suppress and my feelings and emotions became harder and harder to contain. For years I had adopted various negative behaviours to cope, like binge eating and binge drinking to numb my pain, shame and anger.
It affected my emotional and mental health greatly too, but I still did everything I could to not allow others to think that there was ‘something wrong’ with me or to give them any impression of what I was really going through, I felt so ashamed.
The years passed by and I continued to suppress my emotions and feelings. I tried numerous self-help strategies, books and courses.
I also sought some professional help, only to be diagnosed and offered medications to ‘deal’ with my symptoms as opposed to confronting the underlying cause. I didn’t want a label or a pill, I wanted freedom from my past.
At the time my relationship with my father and in particular my mother had become somewhat strained since I had left home at 22. I was doing all I could to get through each day without allowing my family or anyone else for that matter know what battle I was really fighting on the inside.
Life became more of a struggle each day. I felt frustrated, defeated and overwhelmed. The constant cycles of addictive behaviours became more destructive and more frequent. I knew I had to do something, I knew my life had to change. I needed to open up and free myself of my negative past experiences.
Then at 27, I woke up one morning with this overwhelming feeling – a feeling that I needed to finally break my silence and share this secret that I had suppressed for nearly 20 years. I had to tell someone. I was exhausted of living my life feeling so trapped, frustrated and suffocated by my past.
First, I opened up to my best friend and then soon after to my father. At the time I didn’t feel connected enough to open up to my mother as our relationship was already so strained.
What happened not long after, well, I didn’t see coming. I was disowned by my mother and then the rest of my family for speaking the truth of being sexually abused as a child.
I thought at the time that speaking the truth of my past would have hopefully helped heal that strain after years of our relationship becoming more destructive, toxic and unbearable, to my disbelief it got much worse.
I felt so neglected, abandoned and had lost all sense of belonging.