2D6926AD-F4CF-4DDA-A6FB-0E13C8A14A99This post has been a long-time coming for me.

I have gone back and forth, debating wether or not I should write it, for fear of putting myself out there.

but in the past few months, it has become increasingly clear to me that I need to share it, for the sake of my healing if nothing else.

for over 35 years now, I have kept a secret—-a secret that has left me feeling dirty and ashamed.

a secret so deep that I was never allowed to talk about, and one that has impacted my life in ways that I never realized until this past year.

 

2E4A224E-5A7B-48B2-A871-72850AAFFE31When I was twelve years old, I was sexually abused by someone who i loved and trusted.

i was scared and confused and had no idea what to do.

I ended up sharing what happened with my mom, who, of course, was devastated, and we agreed that this would stay between her and i.  She did share the incident with another close family member, but no one else ever knew.

for almost 35 years.

and i can honestly say that it has practically destroyed me.

looking back, i can see how the abuse could’ve been much worse—though the fact that it happened was bad enough—and i am grateful that it only occurred the one time with this person.

shortly after the abuse, this person came to me and apologized, swearing that it would never happen again.  And it didn’t.

but the damage was already done.

 

60FCEA79-E19E-4D9D-AC77-1948CA18D130The abusive incident changed so many things within me…the way i felt about men from that point on; not wanting them to hug me or look at me.  Or the fact that i felt like i was damaged goods, not good enough for anyone.

I felt insecure in the clothes i wore, wanting to make sure that i was covered, and that I wasn’t leaving anything to the imagination.

I felt like a stranger in my own body.  I mean, what was wrong with me that would cause a grown man to touch me in that way, and in places he had no business touching me?

all of these thoughts and feelings were flying around in my head, and I couldn’t share them with anyone.

1C74C20E-679B-472C-BECB-78FA174C16C6Shortly after the sexual abuse, the emotional abuse began.

a close family member began to tell me that the abuse was my fault.

that i, at 12 years of age, should have been more lady-like, and then maybe this man wouldn’t have been curious enough to abuse me.  And just so you know, i know now that that’s a load of bull.

this person continually told me that i was to blame….if only you dressed more modest, if only you would sit with your legs crossed, you shouldn’t have jumped around that way in front of him…..the accusations didn’t stop until i was in my mid 20’s.

I was told for years after the abuse that the only reason he (the abuser) is nice to me is because of “what happened”.

I was led to believe that i used the abusive incident as a way to find favor with this man.  Which, by the way, wasn’t true at all.

i was also informed on a regular basis that all men were dirty, and that they were all capable of abusing little girls.  That all men were perverted and that they were all the same.

A293D495-2165-44D1-8280-499348392D12For years i listened to and believed these lies.

a few years after that first incident, and uncle of mine came to stay with us for a short time.

and one day, it just so happened that my mom left me home alone with him.

now, this uncle had always been someone who i looked up to and loved being around.

but on this particular day, that all changed.

as we were sitting in our family room watching TV, my uncle unzipped his pants and exposed himself to me.

i sat across the room from him feeling very scared and unsure of what to do.

he then went on to tell me that if I would come over to him, he’d like to teach me some things that he knew I’d really like.

thankfully, I had the nerve to say no, and he never tried that again.

i never told my parents what happened, for fear that it would cause problems in our family, plus i was afraid my uncle would lie and say it never happened.

yet another dark secret to hold onto.

I’m going to stop here for now, but in my next post, I plan to share more of how sexual abuse has impacted my life and where I’m at now.

** Has sexual abuse impacted your life?  If so, have you been able to get the help and support you need?  Feel free to share in the comments if you’re comfortable.  Otherwise, you’re welcome to email me anytime: lifeofpattyanne@gmail.com

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