I think I was sexually abused as a child- (I Was- Updated- #47) - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 61 Old 01-21-2010, 03:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't remember it. I don't remember who- but I have suspicions that I know. I remember a room- a very familiar room. The memory of this room has stuck in my mind for years, a dark, solid preying sort of memory. I don't remember anything that happened in that room, I just have this picture of it and the intense feeling that something happened there.

Something that I don't want to remember, but I can't even tell myself why. I know who's room it is. I know we moved out of that house when I was only eight years old. For years I've been telling myself that this memory is false, that the room I remember must have been in somebody else's house, but I don't know how to explain it, lately I have just known that this isn't true, that it was our house where it all happened.

I don't remember much of my childhood before eight or nine years old. What little I do remember is blurry- literally. I had terrible eyesight, but nobody figured that out until I was nine. I have a few vivid memories of playing sex games with a neighborhood boy who was a year younger than me- I would have been maybe six at the time.

I feel guilty, shameful, disgusting, dirty thinking about it. These were things no six year old has any business knowing about, let alone doing or coercing a five year old into doing. I'm disgusted with myself. I tried telling myself over the years that kids explore sexually and its normal, but after reading a few threads here on people who suffered abuse as children or who's children have suffered abuse, I've come to realize what I knew/did as a child was not a normal childhood behavior.

I will admit I've always had the suspicion/fear that it wasn't normal to know about those kinds of things. This was a wake-up call. There isn't a satisfactory answer for the question of why an otherwise normal and healthy six year old girl would know about those things. Only that I wasn't a normal or healthy six year old girl.

In my heart I believe that is because I was sexually abused, but part of me is terrified that I'm wrong and that really I was just a sick, demented child.

But I also remember always having a severe phobia of snakes, to the extent of not even being able to see one on tv without shaking uncontrollably, and I remember being plagued by nightmares of snakes when I was a kid. I've read here and other places that this might be another sign of childhood sexual abuse.

And In retrospect, I know that as a teenager and even in college I was severely depressed, although I didn't know it at the time. I went to school or classes, studied and went to bed. Laid in my bed literally all day. I had zero social life. Still have zero social life.

Realizing I've always been afraid of men. Not in a casual social setting, such as work. But when it's clear that a man is interested in me, I am scared and I back off so quick it must make his head spin to watch. None of my relationships, including with DS' father, have been normal or healthy. All of them have at least started out as casual sexual encounters, at least one of them years ago started to develop into a more normal and long term affair and I bolted so fast even I was surprised.

Now I'm terrified of the world, a kind of deep irrational fear. Fear of attack on me or on DS, fear of somebody raping me or abducting him. I feel a deep, boiling rage- and a deepeer shame- whenever I hear of a child being assaulted on the news. I can't fathom letting anyone near me or DS, can't fathom living anywhere alone where I'm not permitted to have a guard dog. I'm rambling now...

I don't know why I'm posting this- looking for validation for my suspicions, I guess. But fearing that people will brush it off and say that I'm imaging things, couldn't have been abused, and that I just was or am a sick person.

Terribly embarrassed to post this, but forcing myself to anyway. I've got to get this out, if nothing else. Thanks for listening.

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#2 of 61 Old 01-21-2010, 03:51 PM
 
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couldn't read and not post.

I wish I had some advice or BTDT. I know the wise and experienced mamas on this forum will begin to chime in soon, though, with lots of helpful comments.

In the meantime, know that I'm thinking of you.
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#3 of 61 Old 01-21-2010, 03:56 PM
 
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I don't have any answers for you, but couldn't read without offering you a hug.

I hope that you are able to make sense of it all and find peace. Maybe there is someone - a counselor/therapist that you can talk to to sort out these memories and feelings and fears.

Please don't feel embarrassed or ashamed about what you have posted here, or what you did with the neighbor as a young girl. A crime was committed against you and you were dealing with it the best way you could. There is no shame on you.

Peace.
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#4 of 61 Old 01-21-2010, 03:56 PM
 
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You are not alone.

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#5 of 61 Old 01-21-2010, 04:15 PM
 
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sending you peace. i grew up knowing way too much for my age too so what you're saying doesn't make me think you're a bad person... you were a kid. it was just the environment, but now, as an adult, i look back and get very angry that i was in some of the situations that i was in. i have a sister a few yrs older than me & she has the exact same memories, so there's no doubt that its true. would you feel too unsafe to get hypnosis or some other therapy? i felt "dirty" for even talking with my sister about some of the stuff, but when i found out she'd been feeling the same way it was kind of a relief. we both kept it inside well into adulthood, then it all came out in a very looong phone convo one day. gross. makes me so SO angry that someone is going thru this right now & thinks its normal. i'm so sorry. could you call someone today? i still have never gone for professional therapy. i too have an insane fear of snakes & never knew it has anything to do with a sexually explicit childhood (can't say i was abused b'c i don't think i was ever touched as a kid... just alot of sex/drug/alcohol crap around). i thought snake fears are super common. not doubting, i just had never heard that connection. interesting.

sorry for such a long rambly post, just want to let you know that i hear you. take good care of yourself, hug.

"When the external begins to define the internal, instead of the internal defining the external, one begins living as a mortal rather than as a universal being." ~ unknown
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#6 of 61 Old 01-21-2010, 04:29 PM
 
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I think counseling would be a good idea, but in the meantime I just want to send you some positive energy.
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#7 of 61 Old 01-21-2010, 06:25 PM
 
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You are not alone.
Truly you are not. Remembering that is difficult, but it helps so much!

I'm a sex abuse survivor, and recovery can be a long road. Though it's controversial, I highly recommend Courage to Heal when you're ready to begin working through everything.

It's us: DH , DS ; DD ; and me . Also there's the . And the 3 . I . Oh, and .
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#8 of 61 Old 01-21-2010, 06:29 PM
 
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((HUGS)) I have a similar story, expect I remember telling someone that they peed in my underwear ( I woke up and a penis was in my underwear and they were wet, and I wasn't a bed wetter) I just can't remember who it was. I do remember them telling me that I was wrong. I would have been 5ish. my mom did take me to the doctor and there had been no penetration.

I really wish I could remember who it was because I worry about my kids.
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#9 of 61 Old 01-21-2010, 06:36 PM
 
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I'm sorry .
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#10 of 61 Old 01-22-2010, 01:16 AM
 
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I'm sorry, mama. I don't think you're crazy or dirty or bad.

I was molested by my stepfather as a child but I've suspected for a long time there was earlier abuse. Like you, I remember a room and I don't know why I have such vivid memories of that room.

I also initiated sexual play with at least three other children, male and female, all of whom were younger than me, and I told myself for years that it was normal experimentation. But now I look at my 7 and 5 year old dds and know that it wasn't normal.

Oh, mama. Is there any way you can get counselling? Is there a local hotline you can call? I've had several periods of counselling over the last few years - not enough - but I feel like I'm starting to put the pieces of myself back together. You deserve to live your life, mama. Just remember you aren't crazy and you aren't the one who's wrong.

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#11 of 61 Old 01-22-2010, 01:29 AM
 
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#12 of 61 Old 01-22-2010, 02:42 AM
 
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I'm sorry. I hope you can find a good source of healing.
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#13 of 61 Old 01-22-2010, 03:28 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all so much for your replies. I had myself half talked out of this at work- like "no, no I was totally overreacting. It was normal, nothing could have happened". It was both a relief and saddening to come back here and read all these responses- relief to know that I'm not imagining it all and that I'm not alone, sadness because it is more confirmation that it must have happened and also for those of you who have also had personal experiences with this.

I have more I'd like to post, but I'm going to turn in early tonight. I was up late, late last night working things out and then of course DS decided to get up early this morning, so I'm just going to put a movie in and "watch it" (). I just didn't want to go to bed without posting a big thank you to all of you first.

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#14 of 61 Old 01-22-2010, 04:06 AM
 
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I just wanted to let you know I have similar experiences. I have memories of stuff happening to me, sort of, I feel it and see it, but I dont think it can possibly be true. I waver back and forth, between almost accepting it might have happened, and believing I must be making it all up, and only a terrible person would think such things about their family. I have terrible nightmares about snakes, even though I'm not scare of them in real life. And I remember playing sexual games with my younger siblings (we were very close in age) starting when I was 5 or 6. Some of it continued for a long time. I felt horribly guilty and ashamed about . I'm dealing with it in counseling. The awful shame surrounding the sex play is much better, but I still struggle with the memories of abuse and whether or not its true. I've been diagnosed with a dissociative disorder. its really hard stuff to deal with. Counseling does help, although it takes time. Recently I've been thinking I must be the only one with such awful doubts. I'm sorry your struggling with this too, but I also wanted to thank you, as it helps me feel less terrible about my own doubts. If you just want to feel it out a little before diving into counseling, RAINN has a completely confidential hotline- both by phone and online where you can discuss your concerns. My understanding is that your call is completely untraceable, and its for anyone who has questions like yours. Hope you find some peace.
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#15 of 61 Old 01-22-2010, 12:54 PM
 
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I think you need to talk out these issues and concerns with a professional. However, I will caution you to research and be very careful about the professional you choose to go to.

I also want to share with you that repressed memories are EXTREMELY rare. Yes, they do happen -- but they are not as common as popular culture may lead you to believe. http://www.columbia.edu/cu/21stC/issue-2.2/brown2.html

As for childhood sex games... I was obsessed with sex with I was three. I constantly asked questions about it - like nitty gritty stuff. I remember when I was about 5 my friend and I liked pretending like our barbies were having sex. At around 6 we pretended tubular pillows were penises and pretended to have sex with each other. And interest in sex, exploring and touching the bodies of friends does NOT mean there was sexual abuse going on. I was pretty embarrassed by all the sex play for a while, but I've come to peace with it as just part of natural development and exploration. I'm not proud of it or telling the world about it... but I'm not ashamed of it and I certainly don't think it means I was abused.

As for memories... I remember snipets of my childhood (mostly the dramatic stuff like I listed about), but I don't remember much. I don't remember a day of preschool, or kindergarten, or 1st grade... The first time I have any memory of school is fourth grade. Does that mean I was abused at school? No. It just means I don't have a great memory. I still don't! My parents are always upset because I don't remember any family vacations we took (which we took every summer from birth until highschool). I don't remember any vacation, not a single moment or snapshot in my mind, until after 7th grade.

I don't know why you have a bad feeling about that bedroom. It could have just been a room that spooked you when you were a kid. Maybe it was a room where you got spanked or got in trouble. Maybe you had a really bad flu and were sick in that room, and remember staring a the walls and feeling scared and miserable. The possibillities are endless. I don't think you should torture yourself by jumping to "sexual abuse" conclusion.

I'm not trying to minimize what you are feeling. Please don't take my post that way. But I do think that it is very very easy to build up fears in our own minds that become almost indistinguishable from memories. Don't do that to yourself.

The fact is, the vast vast vast majority of sexual abuse survivors remember the abuse. In fact, most remember the abuse quite vividly. Typically, this is how trauma works. It is not impossible, but again extremely rare to block out memories of something traumatic unless there is severe physical trauma (severe bleeding for example) that causes amnesia.

I would work though all of this with a professional. Be very very wary of "repressed memory" hypnotists, though. Your therapist will help you get to the bottom of this. You will have to answer uncomfortable questions. You will quite possibly need to talk to friends and family memories to try to get clues. Who would have had access to you at that age? Who would get alone time with you? When would this take place? Did you ever exhibit signs of abuse at that time? It will be uncomfortable... but is that any worse than how you are feeling right now?


Again, I hope you don't see my post as minimizing your feelings and fears. But I just wanted to say that I experienced much of what you described as a child, but I was not abused. Much of what you described is, frankly, normal!


Sending you strength! Thanks for your honest post, I know it couldn't have been easy to write.
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#16 of 61 Old 01-22-2010, 01:16 PM
 
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Just sending some healing along your way. That must be such a hard place to be in.

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#17 of 61 Old 01-22-2010, 01:32 PM
 
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I don't remember much of my childhood before eight or nine years old. What little I do remember is blurry- literally. I had terrible eyesight, but nobody figured that out until I was nine. I have a few vivid memories of playing sex games with a neighborhood boy who was a year younger than me- I would have been maybe six at the time.

I feel guilty, shameful, disgusting, dirty thinking about it. These were things no six year old has any business knowing about, let alone doing or coercing a five year old into doing. I'm disgusted with myself. I tried telling myself over the years that kids explore sexually and its normal, but after reading a few threads here on people who suffered abuse as children or who's children have suffered abuse, I've come to realize what I knew/did as a child was not a normal childhood behavior.


I will admit I've always had the suspicion/fear that it wasn't normal to know about those kinds of things. This was a wake-up call. There isn't a satisfactory answer for the question of why an otherwise normal and healthy six year old girl would know about those things. Only that I wasn't a normal or healthy six year old girl.

In my heart I believe that is because I was sexually abused, but part of me is terrified that I'm wrong and that really I was just a sick, demented child.
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I'm sorry, mama. I don't think you're crazy or dirty or bad.

I was molested by my stepfather as a child but I've suspected for a long time there was earlier abuse. Like you, I remember a room and I don't know why I have such vivid memories of that room.

I also initiated sexual play with at least three other children, male and female, all of whom were younger than me, and I told myself for years that it was normal experimentation. But now I look at my 7 and 5 year old dds and know that it wasn't normal.
I just wanted to chime in with very similar experiences.
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#18 of 61 Old 01-22-2010, 03:05 PM
 
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#19 of 61 Old 01-22-2010, 04:41 PM
 
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I think you need to talk out these issues and concerns with a professional. However, I will caution you to research and be very careful about the professional you choose to go to.

I also want to share with you that repressed memories are EXTREMELY rare. Yes, they do happen -- but they are not as common as popular culture may lead you to believe. http://www.columbia.edu/cu/21stC/issue-2.2/brown2.html

As for childhood sex games... I was obsessed with sex with I was three. I constantly asked questions about it - like nitty gritty stuff. I remember when I was about 5 my friend and I liked pretending like our barbies were having sex. At around 6 we pretended tubular pillows were penises and pretended to have sex with each other. And interest in sex, exploring and touching the bodies of friends does NOT mean there was sexual abuse going on. I was pretty embarrassed by all the sex play for a while, but I've come to peace with it as just part of natural development and exploration. I'm not proud of it or telling the world about it... but I'm not ashamed of it and I certainly don't think it means I was abused.

As for memories... I remember snipets of my childhood (mostly the dramatic stuff like I listed about), but I don't remember much. I don't remember a day of preschool, or kindergarten, or 1st grade... The first time I have any memory of school is fourth grade. Does that mean I was abused at school? No. It just means I don't have a great memory. I still don't! My parents are always upset because I don't remember any family vacations we took (which we took every summer from birth until highschool). I don't remember any vacation, not a single moment or snapshot in my mind, until after 7th grade.

I don't know why you have a bad feeling about that bedroom. It could have just been a room that spooked you when you were a kid. Maybe it was a room where you got spanked or got in trouble. Maybe you had a really bad flu and were sick in that room, and remember staring a the walls and feeling scared and miserable. The possibillities are endless. I don't think you should torture yourself by jumping to "sexual abuse" conclusion.

I'm not trying to minimize what you are feeling. Please don't take my post that way. But I do think that it is very very easy to build up fears in our own minds that become almost indistinguishable from memories. Don't do that to yourself.

The fact is, the vast vast vast majority of sexual abuse survivors remember the abuse. In fact, most remember the abuse quite vividly. Typically, this is how trauma works. It is not impossible, but again extremely rare to block out memories of something traumatic unless there is severe physical trauma (severe bleeding for example) that causes amnesia.

I would work though all of this with a professional. Be very very wary of "repressed memory" hypnotists, though. Your therapist will help you get to the bottom of this. You will have to answer uncomfortable questions. You will quite possibly need to talk to friends and family memories to try to get clues. Who would have had access to you at that age? Who would get alone time with you? When would this take place? Did you ever exhibit signs of abuse at that time? It will be uncomfortable... but is that any worse than how you are feeling right now?


Again, I hope you don't see my post as minimizing your feelings and fears. But I just wanted to say that I experienced much of what you described as a child, but I was not abused. Much of what you described is, frankly, normal!


Sending you strength! Thanks for your honest post, I know it couldn't have been easy to write.
Part of what's amazing about this board is that people can come from very different ways of thinking but all share a common concern and true support for all here. IowaAngela, I have total respect for you for sharing in that supportive wonderful spirit.

And it's in the same spirit that I need to seriously, completely, urgently disagree with much of what you've said in terms of what's "normal" and what's not. It sounds like you've done your research, so I assume your judgement that repressed memories are so rare is based on your confidence in sources that say this is so. But in my work with abused kids and abusive families, time and time again I have mothers who "didn't remember much about childhood" but then when somethign happens to their kids and the issue is brought into the blinding light of day, they remember... not just vague, possible scary feelings, but often very specific incidences of abuse. The people, the room, what was said, how they felt, the cover ups... sometimes it all comes flooding back.

And most of these women spent years with very similar memories (or LACK of memories) to what you describe.

Would I say EVERY person who doesn't have clear memories of childhood was abused? No, no one can say that. There are always exceptions.

But in a field where that's all we deal with is child abuse, it is far FAR too common a link to ignore. Repressed memories are REAL and VERY COMMON among abuse survivors. Dissociative disorders are so often the brain's way of trying to survive, to get a child's delicate psyche through horrific trauma that no one should go through.

I'm not saying that everyone here who worries they may have been abused and is afraid of snakes and has memories of early sexual acting out was 100% abused. Can't say that because I wasn't there, don't know for sure. But it does a serious disservice to those who have posted and feel these things to say they are NORMAL! They are more common than we'd ever want, but they are usually signs of something NOT NORMAL happening and they need to be treated with care, with love, with support, and with patience and openness. But to call them "normal" makes the inner torment that usually accomplishes child abuse even more brain-melting because it makes the survivor feel "crazy" for being so torn up and scared and anxious.

Not remembering your childhood is more often than not a sign of trauma. Maybe not necessarily abuse, but very often it is about abuse.

And our brains are very powerful organs - they do their job to try to protect our sanity and when we are traumatized, they can shut down and shut out dangerous info and keep it locked away until maybe it's safe to let little bits through (or until other trauma/events unlock the door and it comes flooding out, ready or not).

Most psychologists I work with would say you guys are brave and amazing for being conscious enough and strong enough to CONSIDER that something bad might have happened. My heart breaks to think of the energy and emotion spent wrestling with trying to figure out if something happened or not, feeling crazy for worrying, feeling sick or dirty or other negative things for even wondering about it. It is VERY VERY VERY likely you were victims, and that right there means you are not responsible for what happened to you, and what you may have started with outher children, especially since in your survival mode you were normalizing the behavior as children.

It's the adults in your lives that failed you and any other children who were affected. My heart goes out to you all and the kids you are worried you interacted with, but none of it is your fault if you didn't understand you were doing something wrong. And feeling dirty or wrong at the time is not the same as having a clear understanding that you're making a choice to do something wrong. If you were abused, those incidents of abuse made you feel shameful and wrong, and any acting out that grew out of that is predictably going to have similar feelings attached to it. Doesn't make you evil or bad or even responsible when you were kids too.

Original poster, please consider what many have suggested and seek some counseling. I agree, be careful and trust your instincts about the best fit for a counselor (if someone makes you feel awful, not a good fit - you have every right to keep looking for someone better). But try to get some help in figuringhtis out because it will continue to haunt you if you don't find ways to process whatever is going on.
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#20 of 61 Old 01-22-2010, 05:13 PM
 
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Part of what's amazing about this board is that people can come from very different ways of thinking but all share a common concern and true support for all here. IowaAngela, I have total respect for you for sharing in that supportive wonderful spirit.

And it's in the same spirit that I need to seriously, completely, urgently disagree with much of what you've said in terms of what's "normal" and what's not. It sounds like you've done your research, so I assume your judgement that repressed memories are so rare is based on your confidence in sources that say this is so. But in my work with abused kids and abusive families, time and time again I have mothers who "didn't remember much about childhood" but then when somethign happens to their kids and the issue is brought into the blinding light of day, they remember... not just vague, possible scary feelings, but often very specific incidences of abuse. The people, the room, what was said, how they felt, the cover ups... sometimes it all comes flooding back.

And most of these women spent years with very similar memories (or LACK of memories) to what you describe.

Would I say EVERY person who doesn't have clear memories of childhood was abused? No, no one can say that. There are always exceptions.

But in a field where that's all we deal with is child abuse, it is far FAR too common a link to ignore. Repressed memories are REAL and VERY COMMON among abuse survivors. Dissociative disorders are so often the brain's way of trying to survive, to get a child's delicate psyche through horrific trauma that no one should go through.

I'm not saying that everyone here who worries they may have been abused and is afraid of snakes and has memories of early sexual acting out was 100% abused. Can't say that because I wasn't there, don't know for sure. But it does a serious disservice to those who have posted and feel these things to say they are NORMAL! They are more common than we'd ever want, but they are usually signs of something NOT NORMAL happening and they need to be treated with care, with love, with support, and with patience and openness. But to call them "normal" makes the inner torment that usually accomplishes child abuse even more brain-melting because it makes the survivor feel "crazy" for being so torn up and scared and anxious.

Not remembering your childhood is more often than not a sign of trauma. Maybe not necessarily abuse, but very often it is about abuse.

And our brains are very powerful organs - they do their job to try to protect our sanity and when we are traumatized, they can shut down and shut out dangerous info and keep it locked away until maybe it's safe to let little bits through (or until other trauma/events unlock the door and it comes flooding out, ready or not).

Most psychologists I work with would say you guys are brave and amazing for being conscious enough and strong enough to CONSIDER that something bad might have happened. My heart breaks to think of the energy and emotion spent wrestling with trying to figure out if something happened or not, feeling crazy for worrying, feeling sick or dirty or other negative things for even wondering about it. It is VERY VERY VERY likely you were victims, and that right there means you are not responsible for what happened to you, and what you may have started with outher children, especially since in your survival mode you were normalizing the behavior as children.

It's the adults in your lives that failed you and any other children who were affected. My heart goes out to you all and the kids you are worried you interacted with, but none of it is your fault if you didn't understand you were doing something wrong. And feeling dirty or wrong at the time is not the same as having a clear understanding that you're making a choice to do something wrong. If you were abused, those incidents of abuse made you feel shameful and wrong, and any acting out that grew out of that is predictably going to have similar feelings attached to it. Doesn't make you evil or bad or even responsible when you were kids too.

Original poster, please consider what many have suggested and seek some counseling. I agree, be careful and trust your instincts about the best fit for a counselor (if someone makes you feel awful, not a good fit - you have every right to keep looking for someone better). But try to get some help in figuringhtis out because it will continue to haunt you if you don't find ways to process whatever is going on.
Thank you for being so kind and gentle in your disagreement with me. I really do appreciate that because this is indeed a very sensitive topic.

Yes, I have done quite bit of research (or, that is, I've done a lot of reading on the research of others). I do firmly believe that repressed memories are very much overstated in pop psychology and culture and happen much more rarely than some sources lead us to believe. Anecdotal evidence of it happening doesn't negate the fact that it is indeed rare.

My hope in making my post wasn't to belittle everything the OP is going through. My heart breaks for her. She could very well be an abuse survivor - but whether she is or isn't she has issues that I think a professional should help her sort through. My goal in making my post was to encourage her that sexual abuse isn't the only possibility for what she is feeling or what she has experienced. I wanted her to keep an open mind to the possibility that no sexual abuse took place. If she goes into this determined to find evidence (either physical or in her own mind) of sexual abuse, undoubtedly she will find a therapist willing to "help" her make the "discovery". But if she goes into with the idea that there may or may not have been abuse - that sexual abuse is not the inevitable cause of what she is describing - then I think she will set forth on a much healthier journey, and one that is more likely to end in her finding the ultimate truth (whatever that may be).

I admit, I had moments of wondering if something happened to me. It's probably normal to think that. I especially wondered this around the age of 19 and 20, when I was really at a stage in my life of discovering my sexuality. But, the truth is that I have no real reason to think I was ever sexually abused. As I did more reading and research into repressed memories I learned how highly unlikely it would be for me to not remember abuse. I did some reflections on the who/what/when/where's of such abuse and realized there was likely no good opportunities or reasons to suspect.

I was obsessed with sex as a little kid because I was generally precocious. At age three, I asked a million questions about EVERYTHING, and sex was no exception. The sex play with friends was just acting out something we were curious about. The huge gaps in memory are just me being me - which is someone with a poor memory. There are other things that I suppose if I was looking for it, I would find, as evidence of past abuse. (Such as dealing with swinging back and forth between unreasonable fears of people and things and unreasonable trust in some people). Like I said, if you start with a conclusion (ie "I was sexually abused") and then try to build your case around it - guess what? You can. Anyone can. That's why you gotta not start with that assumption. I think the OP should start with the facts and go from there - not start with this fear of sexual abuse and then find facts to support it.

I hope some of that made sense. Thank you again, truly, for the kindness and respect you gave when you disagreed with me. I knew I might be posting something controversial - but I thought my viewpoint should be heard and the OP can either take it or leave it.

mama2landon - Again, I hope and pray that you don't see what I've posted as words meant to diminish the sincere pain you are in right now. I'm so proud of you for reaching out and talking about something so personal and so hard to talk about. I pray for your healing, and I hope you find answers.
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#21 of 61 Old 01-22-2010, 05:19 PM
 
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For me personally, I think the MOST difficult part of considering this scenario is the idea that I might have negatively affected other children. Are there people out there who, thinking back on THEIR childhoods, consider me a predator or perpetrator?
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#22 of 61 Old 01-22-2010, 06:34 PM
 
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Part of what's amazing about this board is that people can come from very different ways of thinking but all share a common concern and true support for all here. IowaAngela, I have total respect for you for sharing in that supportive wonderful spirit.
I agree.

And thx LROM for your words. Almost threw up while reading what you wrote... but please take that in a productive way!

"When the external begins to define the internal, instead of the internal defining the external, one begins living as a mortal rather than as a universal being." ~ unknown
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#23 of 61 Old 01-22-2010, 07:34 PM
 
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I do take it in a productive way, though sorry it made you feel that way but I really do understand.

Number572 just wanted to add something b/c I just re-read your other post and something you said I wanted to respond to:

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can't say i was abused b'c i don't think i was ever touched as a kid... just alot of sex/drug/alcohol crap around).
Again, not trying to insist that "all roads lead to child sexual abuse" but I do want to say this: households where parents were using drugs have a very very very much higher risk of sexual abuse of the kids because drug using parents usually mean 2 things: 1) there are period where they are really not aware of or paying attention to where their kids are or who is with them, doing what; and 2) there is generally a lot of traffic in and out of the house, people hanging out and using, or people buying/selling drugs. That also puts kids at higher risk of abuse because again, parents are focused on the drugs and there are people you wouldn't otherwise have in your house hanging around. It can become even more dangerous when money is owed. That horrific case several months ago where a woman SOLD her 5 yr old to a guy she owed drug money to and he raped her and killed her is an extreme case, but still, it's almost never a good scenario.

So hopefully no one did ever touch you. But if you experience big gaps of memory loss like several other posters here did, and your parents had a lot of traffic in and out of the house or even just if your parents were high a lot... it's very possible some stuff happened that absolutely should not have. And again, if it did, it is in no way a child's fault.
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#24 of 61 Old 01-23-2010, 04:25 AM
 
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For me personally, I think the MOST difficult part of considering this scenario is the idea that I might have negatively affected other children. Are there people out there who, thinking back on THEIR childhoods, consider me a predator or perpetrator?
I worry about this as well.
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#25 of 61 Old 01-23-2010, 04:48 AM
 
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I don't remember much of my childhood before eight or nine years old.

And in retrospect, I know that as a teenager and even in college I was severely depressed, although I didn't know it at the time. I went to school or classes, studied and went to bed. Laid in my bed literally all day. I had zero social life. Still have zero social life.

Realizing I've always been afraid of men. Not in a casual social setting, such as work. But when it's clear that a man is interested in me, I am scared and I back off so quick it must make his head spin to watch.
I can empathize with all of these statements; I feel the same way. For me, I think the reason is that my mother was an alcoholic when I was young, my father died when I was 10, and then my mother became a severe drug addict. Just a guess. Now, I'm about to give you some advice that I've never taken myself.

I think you definitely need to see a therapist. I think hypnosis would be great, if you're open to that. I'm sure it would be uncomfortable (to say the least), but it could also be incredibly freeing for you.

Sending you peace, love, and best wishes.

Jessie
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#26 of 61 Old 01-23-2010, 05:11 AM
 
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Very similar story and scenerio here.. although my "sperm donor" who had custody of my half sis and bro, is now in prison for being a pedophile. He was arrested when I was 20. I developed panic d/o and agoraphobia on 10/12/99. I started having memories..although they were not clear, but I KNEW my 11 y/o lil sis was being molested. I called DCF numerous times. He was arrested 3 months later. I have more validation that I was also abused by him, although I don't have memories. I have the snake dreams.. I have severe emetaphobia; I've never slept in my own bed because I'm still afraid of the dark. I had several UTIs as a little girl. I don't know why I didn't tell, and I don't know why I don't remember. You are not alone at all. Hugs!

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#27 of 61 Old 01-23-2010, 06:32 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I've been trying to put my thoughts into the perfect words, but they are just too confused. Bear with me, here are just some random things I've been thinking about.

There is a saying- "If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck." My own version goes something like this: "If all signs are pointing toward Rome, then it's a pretty damn good bet the road is leading to Rome." A bunch of signs, when taken separately, maybe don't mean much. But when considered together, well maybe then they means something a lot more.

There was a study I read while I was trying to work this out. It studied the kind of sexual behavior that "normal" children engaged in. Children with suspected or confirmed sexual abuse were screened out of this study. The things you talked about doing, IowaAngela, those were among the reported sexual behaviors for normal children. The things I remember doing at the age of 5 or 6 were not- not even for children in the 10 or 11 year old age group. 0%.


The brain, especially the part dealing with memory, is a funny thing. There's no way we understand even a tenth part of how it works, or why it works the way it does. I don't think repressed memories are as common as pop culture- tv, movies, soaps, etc. would have us believe. I don't think they're rare, either.

The attic room I talked about- it was my brother's bedroom. And I remember knowing that something bad happened in that room. When I was younger, I would also have this hazy image of a shadowy guy whenever I thought about the room. Lately, I've just been focused on the room- like if I could just remember that room, everything else would fall into place. (Which it didn't, of course) But it was always just on the cusp- you know like how you can't remember a singer or actor's name and it's just right there?

Really, it could be any old memory as IowaAngela pointed out. It's just that this memory had a different feel it, all I can explain is that I always "felt" or "knew" that someone had done something to me in that room. I also can't explain, but I "knew" it was something sexual, but I couldn't figure the memory out because I couldn't figure out that room- where it was.

Anyway, it has only been recently that I've come to accept that my brother's bedroom is the only attic bedroom I've ever known. My playroom was right there on the landing of the stairs.

I wanted to avoid even bringing my brother into this, because my point isn't to accuse anyone of doing anything. I don't care about pointing fingers and assigning blame right now- I'm just trying to figure out what happened or if anything really did happen at all. But my brother- yeah not a nice guy. 11 years older than me. Half brother, lived with his mom until she was murdered in front of his face before or shortly after I was born. She was a drug addict, God knows what kind of life he lived with her- her only other child is an alcoholic/drug addict- for what that says.

Don't remember brother much until after he left school. But I know he beat all of his girlfriends, still is verbally and physically abusive to his wife in front of their kids. Mom told me that she found out a few years ago that when he was in high school, he pulled a gun on his girlfriend and threatened to blow her head off in front of a car full of her girlfriends. That he terrorized one high school gf so bad she had a nervous breakdown. Forced another to steal from her parent's store for him. Stole money from my mom. He had, and still has a truly evil temper.

But also is charming and funny and personable to a fault. Loves kids and is great with them- and they love him. I did too. I idolized him. I still love him- he is my brother. I'm not saying that if something happened, it must have been him. It could have been one of his friends- could have been anybody, could have been nobody if I'm honest. But you can see how I'm starting to question him, right? All these things he did to his high school girlfriends- you have to understand that not a hint of this reached our house. My mom was a teacher in this school- a town of less than 1,000 people. One of the girls in the car was the daughter of another teacher, and not a single hint of this reached any adult. He had these high school girls thoroughly terrorized, how much easier would it be to intimidate a five or six year old? Again, I'm not saying he did do anything, but can you see why it would make me question? He was a disturbed person, still is really. Dad never let him get any counseling for seeing his mother's murder. And Dad was physically abusive to brother. I got a few spankings too, but nothing like brother. And Dad was verbally and mentally abusive to all of us, imo.

Anyway, just my random thoughts, because my mind has been circling. I knew it was his room, but I kept saying to myself "but I don't know anybody who is capable of doing that kind of thing" and then a little voice in my head said "don't you?" Even if he is a better person now- albeit one who seriously needs to be on some mood stabilizers- back then he was clearly a violent, disturbed and abusive young man. You see what I mean about the little signs that have the potential to add up to something big? Makes me think.

Couple other random thoughts: Deefodil, my thoughts too are with those kids I might have hurt with my own actions. Even though I was only five or six- I still feel guilty that I might have caused them pain. If so, I hope they were able to heal, I hope they don't think badly of me if they remember me at all.

Repressed memories: I know they are possible to a degree at least, because I know of one particular one I have sitting in my head. When I was in college I had a bad sexual encounter (rape?) with a man. I remember his face and his name. And I remember sitting in the bathroom afterword and shaking. I know it happened because I told a couple people soon after, but I no longer have an actual memory of what happened with him- just memories of telling certain people.

One last thing: counseling. Yes, I think counseling isn't a bad idea. I have limited faith in talk therapy, tried it and literally could not bring myself to discuss the things I wanted to/needed to. Physically couldn't make myself. Maybe a different counselor?? I've heard of cranio-sacral (??) therapy, but I don't know much about it, and the nearest ones are well over an hour away. Sceptical about hypnotherapy, because hypnosis is powerful, and I would worry too much about a practitioner asking the wrong things and accidentally "making" me remember something that didn't actually happen.

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#28 of 61 Old 01-23-2010, 12:12 PM
 
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I can absolutely see why you are suspecting your brother may have had a role in what you are dealing with right now. From what you've said, he sounds like a pretty likely suspect, in fact.

I'm in a rather similar boat as you, although I'm not feeling as tormented with things at this stage in my life. I don't remember my childhood before the age of 12. At all. I know what my mother and childhood friend tells me - and I know what I see in pictures. I had a long standing battle with UTIs when I was three to six or seven. I know I was really into "sex play" with my friend and asked my mom very specific sex questions all the time. I know, from looking at old school reports, that in first grade after winter break I came back a completely changed kid and teachers were concerned. I was suddenly very unsure of myself and withdrawn. I know I got my period at age ten, but didn't tell my mom about it for three years. I know I deal with a lot of fear and anxiety issues today, and I sleep with the lights on ALWAYS. I even shower with my glasses on. I'm told this is called "hypervigilance". I don't know if you would call it rape, but I did have oral sex forced on me in college. This spiraled me (at age 19) into an eating disorder that I have struggled with for well over 10 years (and, really, still struggle with today at 33).

Are these reasons to suspect sexual abuse? I honestly don't know sometimes. I feel a hurt that I can't place, and I have these possible "clues" that could mean nothing or could mean something. I don't know how I should feel.

I don't blame you for being skeptical of hypnotists. I am too. I don't have the trust necessary for that type of situation, and it sounds like you might not either. Hypnotists, while most are upstanding, are the ones that get on 20/20 for being arrested for implanting false memories into patients. That'd be the last thing you'd need to deal with in the midst of this. But there is absolutely no way in hell I'd ever let myself be hypnotised. I'm pretty sure that if you aren't able to trust and let go, like me, hypnosis wouldn't work anyway.

At the age of about 22, I did seek therapy to try to sort out what had happened in my past. I don't know what exactly brought me to that point, because I don't even know if I have valid reasons to suspect. But I was really ill at that point with the eating disorder, and my thoughts weren't always too coherent. (I was barely eating 300 calories a day and typically throwing up what I ate. ) I was a grad student, and all I could afford was an on-campus clinic that utilized grad students (in another department than mine, thank god) as counselors. So I don't think I was getting the best help. The counselor asked me a lot about why I thought I may have been sexually abused. I don't think my answers were satisfying. I remember she kept saying "let's treat this like a mystery and try to piece together the clues"... I was like "OK, nancy drew, this is my LIFE and my f**ked up mind were are talking about... not some Clue in the Clock mystery for you to have fun solving in 300 pages or less." (No, I didn't say that... just felt it.)

In the end, I only went to about four sessions before quitting. She was pressing me with questions that I simply couldn't answer. I think she was getting frustrated with all my "I don't knows". I almost felt like making up some answers just to appease her! How do you answer all these questions when you have ZERO memory of your childhood?? She was also wanting me to talk to my mom and get some answers - which I couldn't bring myself to do or even consider doing. So that scared me away too.

So my experience in going to counseling was a total bust. It left me feeling even more isolated and weird and crazy for feeling this way. It was a really tough time in my life. I felt very alone.

I think, in retrospect, a huge part of the problem was that I had a poor counselor. She was a 25-year-old kid without much experience. I mean, she was a student! Not her fault, of course, but I don't think she was prepared to handle someone in my situation. I think she was probably great at talking to students with mild depression, or homesickness, or test anxiety... but not someone that felt as messed up as I did at the time.

Having said all of that, I do think a counselor would be in order for you. You sound ready. Not a hypnotist, though! I would suggest that you talk to your doctor and get a referral. He or she would know someone that is experienced and reputable. It'd be better than blindly picking from the yellow pages or the Internet. I'd also tell you that you have to prepare yourself for it to be uncomfortable. Perhaps be upfront with your counselor about your fears and make it clear that you want to go slow.

I admire you for searching for answers. I've sort of given up. I'm in a good place in my life right now. I have children and a husband that I adore. Yes, I do still have a monkey on my back (that is fear and suspicion and just the big unknown of my childhood), but I don't feel willing to deal with that monkey. I don't want to. I want to ignore it, and probably will ignore it the rest of my life. Is this a healthy solution? Probably not. But i don't feel I have the strength to do anything but hide.

So, again, I'm so amazed by you and your strength as you look for answers.

I guess one question you may want to ask yourself before going any further... what do you hope will come of this? Honestly. I had to ask myself that too, and I realized that even if the "mystery" of my childhood was solved, it wouldn't necessarily heal my wounds... in fact, it could make things worse. I wasn't strong enough to ride out the part where things got worse before they got better. I decided that things are hidden from me for a reason. I should just trust that and move on. Again, I'm probably making anyone in the psych community reading this cringe, but I don't feel strong enough to stir up a whole mess of trauma and trouble that my mind has been trying so hard to protect me from. So... what do you hope will come of this? Do you want to face your abuser? Do you want legal recourse? Do you want to change family relationships based on this information?

I'm sending you prayers of strength. Thank you for bravely writing this post and for your honestly. This is such a hard thing to talk about - and even harder when you don't have the memories to talk "solidly" about anything. I really pray this is a healing journey for you and that you get an outcome that is satisfying and improves your life. Sending you love!!!

::
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#29 of 61 Old 01-23-2010, 10:21 PM
 
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I haven't read this whole thread, but...

-I know personally know three people who have severely repressed childhood memories. As in, months and years just *gone* from their memories.

-Two of these people (my dad and my SIL)I know for a fact were sexually abused as children. How do I know? Because they both sexually abused other children. In both cases, it was a younger, opposite sex sibling.

-Neither my dad nor SIL realizes they were sexually abused.

I think, and hope, that SIL will eventually be ready to hear it. DH has tried to ask her about it, using very un-blaming language, i.e., "inappropriate childhood sexual behavior", but SIL has no memory of it whatsoever. SIL has had a severe weight problem since she was about 8, which is around the time she began abusing DH. With therapy, she has lost 90 pounds over the past year, and I am hoping that part of this therapy/weight loss will be the eventually "outing" of the fact that she was sexually abused.

My dad has all sorts of problems- he's bipolar, he has severe addictive behaviors, and he's incredibly angry.

-I have never heard of a snake phobia having anything to do with childhood sexual abuse, but it's worth noting that my dad has an absolutely paralyzing fear of snakes. This is a man who rides a motorcycle without a helmet, parachutes, and climbs on roofs for a living, but he sees a garter snake and can't rest until it's dead.

Childhood sexual abuse is INCREDIBLY common. You are not alone OP. You are not alone.

Trying to turn hearts and minds toward universal healthcare, one post at a time.
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#30 of 61 Old 01-25-2010, 12:19 PM
 
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My heart is just so heavy for all of you trying to manage these uncertain pasts and be present in the present. Such a difficult thing, but so very important when you're trying to work to a more peaceful, balanced, happy future.

First off, UTIs. HUGE MEGA RED FLAG for sexual abuse in small children, especially females! Recurring UTIs? Even more so.

Since most of you don't remember those years, I'm guessing you don't remember whether your parents took you to the doc? Do you remember anything about what the docs said or theorized? Well, no matter what they said - because even in the last 10 years docs have come a long way in being more vocal/active about suspicious ailments in kids and what to do when they see it - but whatever did or didn't happen with docs then, the majority of UTIs in young girls are related to sexual abuse. Sure a small number just happen (especially in homes where cleanliness is a huge challenge and kids are just not clean), but overall they're mostly associated with sexual activity in adults (again, with some exceptions), so in kids it's a mega red flag.

OP, your half brother... what I said about you goes for him too in terms of him also not being at fault as a child for victimizing you. But I have to say... given all you've said about his sad life... it's not just that all roads point to Rome... I think we're at a point in the road where the sign says "Welcome to Rome" - I think you've figured it out.

Your brother is a prime candidate for having been a sexual abuse victim himself, with an addicted mom, who knows who had access to him or what his mom did to/with him for her to get her drugs. And heavens, he witnessed her murder??? It's amazing he hasn't actually killed anyone himself yet - to grow up in those horrible circumstances, then witness THAT, then be refused counseling and further abused by his dad? I don't really have words. So unfair and awful.

But with your playroom near his room, and his room being the only attic bedroom you can remember, and his history... I know I can't say definitively beyond all doubt "We're in Rome" but is there really ANY doubt? I don't think so.

If/when you go to counseling, think about asking what would happen if you proceeded assuming you were victimized by your brother - ask what that would mean, what effects it would have on you, on your counseling, etc. You're wise not to make this into a witch hunt, but you could save yourself a LOT of time and agony if you give yourself permission to conclude that yes, you were victimized by your brother, much as you HATE for that to be the truth. And then proceed from there - what does that mean to you processing it and healing and moving on? Do you still have a relationship with him? You will very likely have to work through what that means to you and what relationship (or lack of one) with him will make you feel healthiest.

Because while it's true that children who hurt other children because of their own trauma are not responsible the way an adult who knows that what they're doing is wrong is responsible, the victims have ABSOLUTELY NO responsibility to try to protect their abusers, even if they were kids too. Your brother's life sounds awful, NO ONE should have to live that life. But it doesn't mean you need to do anything against your own interest just because he got such a raw deal in life.

It's time for you to take care of YOU. Whatever that means. Because you're the only one who will do it and the only one who is truly responsible for taking care of you.

This goes for all of you who suspect it might've been your father, step-father, cousin, uncle, mother, aunt... whoever the close family member or family friend may be in you life, and no matter how much everyone loves them or would find it impossible to believe they could molest a child... you MUST do whatever you need to do to help yourself. Including acknowledging that such a person in your life might have done terribly wrong things to you.

Because in most cases, the anguish you've felt all these years isn't really about the "uncertainty" of "whether" you were abused by this person. The anguish really comes from a combo of the trauma of the abuse itself, plus the KNOWLEDGE that it was this person, and the pain/anguish of trying to deny it because that truth is still so painful today and has been every day of your life. It's truly overwhelming. But in most cases, deep down, you already know that it DID happen, and who did it. Your brain/emotions have just been trying to protect you so you can function, but it's a weird Catch 22 - it may get you through the day/month/year, but in some ways it is also debilitating to be "unsure". In some ways, facing the truth and processing it so you can move on and find peace would be the better course to take.

Another part of the anguish is the anger/confusion/hurt because the people who were supposed to protect you didn't protect you. Those are also feelings that have been put on hold but can tear you apart slowly over the years. Maybe in your repressed memories is even a memory of someone who COULD have helped you and stopped the abuse, knowing about it and doing nothing. That would make the whole thing that much more traumatic. And your brain would repress that too, to try to help you just survive.

You have to be able to be whole in yourself, and that includes being able to not think yourself crazy for "imagining" or "suspecting" awful things in your past but feeling you must not think those things because it would hurt the molester, hurt you, hurt others. The truth has to be a starting point for healing, even if you never tell anyone else. You have to be able to tell yourself and trust yourself that you're NOT crazy, and this did happen if all roads point to it happening.

Last thing, if the person you suspect of abusing you is still alive, they likely still have access to children. If you get to the point where you can do it, please please tell your family or whoever is still around that person.

It's very possible someone knew, when you were a child, what was happening ot you. Maybe it happened to them too, maybe they observed it. Don't you wish they'd told a responsible adult and maybe stopped it, before it happened to you or happened again? If you can, please think about doing that for someone else if you get to the point where you can.

Much love and wishes of strength and peace and wholeness to all of you!
LROM is offline  
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