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Being vulnerable with myself? (C.S.A. trigger)

LifeDestroyer posted 12/18/2019 21:05 PM

I donít know if thatís the right term or not for this. I will start off by saying this is about child sexual abuse. I am sure this may be a trigger for some, so I wanted them to know before they read on.

Itís hard for me to come up with a word right now to label myself or what happened. Looking from the outside, I would absolutely call it sexual abuse and call myself a child victim of it. If it ever happened to my daughter I would do everything possible to make sure that the POS got what he deserved. However, I have difficulty calling my experience that. I guess I donít see it as severe as other stories, which I know is completely messed up. Here is what happened to me.

Growing up, my parents worked in NYC. They would drop me off at my aunt and uncleís house where I would take the bus to school. My uncle was always getting laid off, so he was home a lot. Whenever I entered the house, he would always playfully ďpunchĒ me, like taps. He would go for my arms and them my stomach. At some point, his taps went to my chest and then lower and lower. My mom or dad would always be right behind as we entered, nothing was ever said. The tapping became more and more, even when I left. His closed fists would suddenly open as he touched me. Iím not exactly sure how old I was, I would say around 9, when it became real. I was upstairs watching tv while he was downstairs on his computer playing a golf game. He called me down and said he needed my help. He said he needed me for good luck. He had me kneel down on the left side of him, took my right hand, tied it to his thigh, and had my squeeze. Iím a kid, heís an adult, I had no full idea of what was happening. I know I was there for a little bit, I have no idea if he finished. I didnít know what that was then. I do remember that when he untied my hand, I ran to the upstairs bathroom and scrubbed the hell out of my hands. I was crying, scared to go back downstairs. Later that night, he called me to the kitchen. Itís funny the little things you never forget...he was making hotdogs. He was standing at the counter, cutting the hotdogs, and gave me the typical speech. ďYou know you canít tell anyone because they wonít believe you.Ē I believed him. I never told anyone.

I continued getting dropped off there each day, even though I begged my mom to let me stay home alone. I started really blocking myself when I entered the house. I would almost run in and away from him. I was never alone with him in the same room. If he was upstairs, then I was downstairs. If we were both upstairs watching tv, I made sure I was on the opposite end of the couch. Eventually, I stopped going there. I was finally old enough to stay home alone. I never told anyone until I was 16. I told a friend and she then made me tell my boyfriend at the time. He was furious and made me tell my mom. She didnít believe me. She told me that I must have remembered it wrong. I told her and begged her to believe me. She asked me what I wanted her to do. She said she told her sister, she too said I must be wrong. My relationship with that part of the family changed then. My oldest cousin started to treat me differently because her dad was her hero, best guy alive, could do no wrong. She still treats me differently. My uncle avoided me like the black plague. Family parties were awkward to say the least. I never spoke about it again. I never brought it up again until I was 32 and my mom was dying. She still said I was wrong and it didnít happen, and then ďDid you want me to break the family up over that?Ē My dad was an alcoholic and clueless. He said ďI was out of it then. What did you want me to do?Ē I didnít get any closure with my mom over it, and I will probably never bring it up to my dad again. For what?

Which brings me back to my title, being vulnerable with myself. When talking about it with my therapist, I donít feel right identifying as a victim of child sexual abuse. I donít consider what happened to me severe enough. There are children who have endured much, much more horrific things. Again, looking from the outside, I would absolutely call it csa, but I donít feel right. I feel like a fraud. Iím going to guess I probably feel like this due to the fact that the most important people in my life, the ones who were supposed to protect me, didnít do a damn thing. They didnít believe me. My mom rugswept the hell out of it. It must not be really real.

My therapist has said that more than likely that trauma has subconsciously affected my reactions/choices throughout my life. I told her that there has only been one time when I can say that I had a reaction to it, a trigger. I was getting out of the shower one day and bh comes up to me. Heís being playful and starts poking me all over. It tickles at first, so Iím blocking it. He continues and continues and something switched in me. I was back at that front door with my uncle. I immediately started crying, freaked my husband out. I explained to him what happened, and he felt like complete shit. He sat with me, holding me while I had a little crying attack. That has been the only time that I can remember feeling triggered by it, again making me feel that what happened to me wasnít that big of a deal.

Iím not quite sure where I am going with all of this. Has anyone else experienced something like this? How do I make myself realize that what happened to me was a big deal? Was it?

Justsomelady posted 12/18/2019 22:14 PM

(((LD))) I am so sorry.

You definitely went through something that was ďa big deal.Ē Somehow you went numb in response and I agree w your therapist about how it shaped your feelings and reactions into adulthood. I numbed out and even disassociated after my own rape. I was sort of...catatonic. It was someone who was supposed to love me. But love is a verb and it was so much cognitive dissonance on top of the actual trauma that I just checked out. I even kept dating the person a few more months, zombie like going through the motions. I didnít truly deal w it for years. I also didnít talk about it for years - and I was an adult. I certainly empathize w that.

I am not able to offer a good response (I am so sleep deprived) to the rest - but just wanted to send a hug and good thoughts. Iím sorry you experienced that.

[This message edited by Justsomelady at 10:34 PM, December 18th (Wednesday)]

DaddyDom posted 12/18/2019 22:57 PM

LifeDestroyer,

I too am a CSA survivor. For me it was the son of my Mother's neighborhood friend, someone we visited often and that I was expected to be alone with. My experience went further than yours and happened many times, and I too was told not to tell, that no one would believe me. That turned out to be true. When I finally did tell, I too was accused of being a liar, and was then forced to apologize to my abuser.

All I can tell you is that, from my perspective anyway, I think it is completely normal for an adult CSA survivor to feel the way you describe. It felt silly to me as well, like no big deal, and I wondered if I was just making a big deal of something that is probably just "normal kid stuff". "Fraud" is a good word for it. I felt as though I had put it all behind me years ago anyway.

The truth is, just because you weren't brutlized, penetrated and left behind a dumpster has zero bearing on whether you were sexually abused or not. You were. It did damage, real damage, as you can see from the example you gave of your husband tickling you. We cannot compare our pain to the pain of others, it is not contest or a goal to be reached. Pain is pain, and all pain is real and equal. Allow yourself the grace and permission to grieve for the little girl that was abused and damaged through no fault of her own. She is clearly still hurting and needs to be protected.

My therapist has said that more than likely that trauma has subconsciously affected my reactions/choices throughout my life. I told her that there has only been one time when I can say that I had a reaction to it, a trigger.

It is not just triggers. Triggers the least of it, at least, in my experience. It is more the life choices and decisions part. CSA changes how we see and value ourselves and others. Being treated like an object for someone else's pleasure sets a signal in our brains, and becomes a role that we often play out.

* Your uncle sent the clear message that you are there for his pleasure, and that your value was based on what you could do for him, with no regard for your own value
* Your uncle, the abuser, was more important than you were when the truth came out. Covering up his lie was given higher priority than your pain. You were not protected and he was. You were valueless, to everyone in your life that was supposed to love and protect you, you were valueless
* Your mother and others gas-lighted you. They told you that you were wrong, that it didn't happen, that you must be mistaken. You were not only not protected, but now being told that you are either crazy or a liar. Again, your only worth was based on keeping up a lie and protecting your abuser.
* When you were being abused, your were praised. When you talked about your abuse, your were demeaned. When you shut up and did what you were told, you were praised. When you tried to stand up for yourself and be honest, you were demeaned. When you lied or looked the other way, you were praised. No matter how many years passed, you were still demeaned for bringing it up.

Think about all that! You were literally conditioned to be all the things that ultimately led to an affair and a lifestyle of feeling "less than". You were taught to lie. You were taught to avoid conflict. You were taught that your only worth was in pleasing others. You were taught that intimacy is a tool for getting value from people that don't value you at all. You were literally groomed, by your family, to be the kind of person who has an affair.

So please, keep working with your therapist, and give this the weight it deserves. If I may (I am not a therapist in any way) I would suggest asking your IC about EMDR and "inner child" type of work. Most CSA's have PTSD trauma from the event(s) and it has to be dealt with as such. I know this work made a world of difference for me. I still struggle with self-love but I'm a lot closer to being healthy than I've ever been, and it feels good. It has changed almost everything in my life.

LifeDestroyer posted 12/19/2019 06:27 AM

Thank you DD. I am sorry that you also were abused as a child. My therapist has already brought up EMDR. We did one session, finding my happy place. At the end of yesterday's, she said during the next session she wanted to try again this time focusing on the abuse. She is a trauma therapist and strongly deals with children. She also has lots of clients with infidelity issues and some that were/are in the swinger lifestyle. Last night, I dumped a lot on her with our past.

You are correct, I was absolutely taught to lie. My mother taught me that early on. She lied to my dad all the time. She would tell me that it's ok to lie to a boyfriend/husband. I didn't have to tell them. My family always told me that I was the strong kid for dealing with my parents. I would say that played a huge part in me choosing to lie to everyone about my parent, pretend everything is all good. If I told, then I would have felt weak. My mom also taught me to be a strong proud bitch. Yup, that's right. My mom taught me to be a bitch. Seriously. She would say "if anyone calls you a 'bitch' you tell them 'you're damn right a bitch and proud of it.'" And I listened. I grew up saying and feeling that. I gurantee I even told my husband that. Eventually, I stopped saying that in my head. I don't like being seen as a bitch.

I do need to protect that little girl because it definitely didn't happen when it really needed to. It's a struggle because then I feel weak. Again, I need to figure out how to get vulnerable with myself and do it. I start to and then shut it down.

Pippin posted 12/19/2019 07:50 AM

Good work LD! Stay open to what you find. The molestation probably did make me devalue sexuality and my body and have messed up ideas about sexual relationships. But I found thst what was worse was the neglect from my parents and the feeling that I was not worth their care and attention. Not worth even an uncomfortable conversation. They just looked the other way. So I learned to hide, which is the version of lying Iím most prone to. And another thing worse than the actual molestation was the feeling that it was my fault. So yes, the molestation is a terrible problem, and look at what it taught you in and of itself, but also what you learned about how people around you dealt with it. And notice those patterns in your life now, because you learned them and they probably seem like laws of physics to you. But they are not, and your thinking can change. Itís hard to see it but once you see that your patterns of thinking are warped, you can start to change your thinking and change your behavior. The change in feelings follows and takes a while. It gets easier but itís really hard at first.

And Iím so sorry you werenít cared for in the way you should have been. That is not your fault. You were worth love and care and protection. they couldnít get past their own stuff to help you.

IHatePickingName posted 12/19/2019 08:05 AM

I am so sorry you went through this. I never suffered from CSA but i did have a hard time identifying the coercive sex i experienced in my first marriage as rape because it was not "as bad" as what others went through. So i can relate to those feelings. What helped me was the realization that if anyone else told me the same story, i would have no problem seeing it as sexual assault. I noticed you said the same thing, and i hope you can use that to help you give yourself permission to see this for the abuse it was.

I found your point about your mother telling you it is ok to lie to your husband hit me like a hammer. My mom did the same. she taught me that a strong marriage comes from 1) being too stubborn to divorce, no matter what and 2) never telling your partner things "they dont need to know".ni grew up with both parents telling me not to tell the other things and i always hated that it put me in an awkward position because i didnt want to lie to either of them.

I havent ever done that with my kids (except about presents, which they still cant keep secret 🤣 but i think i will spend some time reflecting on the "need to know" part, to root out any areas where i may unconsciously do that, despite having consciously rejected this teaching. I think it is a really good place for me to do some work. So thank you for that.

IHatePickingName posted 12/19/2019 08:05 AM

I am so sorry you went through this. I never suffered from CSA but i did have a hard time identifying the coercive sex i experienced in my first marriage as rape because it was not "as bad" as what others went through. So i can relate to those feelings. What helped me was the realization that if anyone else told me the same story, i would have no problem seeing it as sexual assault. I noticed you said the same thing, and i hope you can use that to help you give yourself permission to see this for the abuse it was.

I found your point about your mother telling you it is ok to lie to your husband hit me like a hammer. My mom did the same. she taught me that a strong marriage comes from 1) being too stubborn to divorce, no matter what and 2) never telling your partner things "they dont need to know".ni grew up with both parents telling me not to tell the other things and i always hated that it put me in an awkward position because i didnt want to lie to either of them.

I havent ever done that with my kids (except about presents, which they still cant keep secret 🤣 but i think i will spend some time reflecting on the "need to know" part, to root out any areas where i may unconsciously do that, despite having consciously rejected this teaching. I think it is a really good place for me to do some work. So thank you for that.

DaddyDom posted 12/19/2019 09:59 AM

My therapist has already brought up EMDR. We did one session, finding my happy place.

This is wonderful. My therapist did the same thing. In fact, we spent several sessions just defining that "safe place" and making sure that I could "go there" when needed. That "safe place" (or happy place) was one of the first tools that really started to help me. When things with my spouse started to go sideways, or when we were doing EMDR and digging through those really hard memories, it gave me a way to deal with the pain without needing to avoid it altogether (as I had always done). Sounds like you have a good therapist - treasure her/him.

Eventually, I stopped saying that in my head. I don't like being seen as a bitch.

Good. And from here on out, that's what you (In my opinion) should be focusing on. Who you want to be, and what you feel represents right and wrong as you see it. The really hard part now is in even recognizing the old, bad behaviors. That lying and "being a bitch" was your "normal" growing up. I found that lied about stuff all the time. Small things of course, but that's the point, it becomes so second nature to us that it can actually be hard to catch yourself doing it sometimes. Just take your time, allow yourself to be frustrated when you need to, and use that "don't give up" attitude to get through it. You'll do great.

hikingout posted 12/19/2019 11:14 AM

I am sorry this happened to you LD. I also was molested as a child. One person from the time I was 5 until I was in my teens. I learned to count because he wanted me to keep my hand on his penis until I could count to 100. I remember being the only one in my kindergarten class being told to stop counting during one of our skills tests because they could see I could go on and on at least until I hit 1000. I remember being proud of that and also tempted to say how I learned.

I had a few other perpetrators as I got to puberty. By the time I decided to have sex with my first long term boyfriend, I really didn't see it's value. It was "no big deal". I did marry the first person I had sex with but not because those were my morals, more how it turned out.

I think that what you have to think about is tracing the ways it effected you. For me, it really made me use sex for attention. It made me feel like that's how women were valued. It seemed transactional in many ways.

When I met my husband and we started dating I think I was trying to impress him by being sexually adventurous. It's how swinging started, and I would go to strip clubs with him and all sorts of things. I wanted to be a cool wife, I saw that as a reward to be thought of that way. Like invincible in some ways. That changed as time went along, and I can see it's because I became a bit more authentic in that category after a while. A little more security caused me to stop acting in insecurity.

With the AP so much of it was a recapturing of how things were after that trauma. The fact he was much older, and the fact he was pushy, so much of it was reliving that, feeling it's what I deserved. There were a lot of elements about me that contributed to the affair, but the affair itself was about repeating a pattern based on who I was in my youth. In some ways, I was confusing trying to feel younger, more vibrant with what my youth actually looked like, not what "a normal" person's youth would look like to them.

I don't blame any of my actions on it, I made those decisions willfully. But, I can see how there was a comfortable aspect to the patterns involved. Even the limerence was something I was doing a lot of when I was young.

So, I share that because it's important for you to go back and heal those traumas. Be the woman who is protecting that little girl. The person the little girl didn't have in her life. And, recognize the patterns that you formed around it. People who are molested often are precocious about sex. They will also act out with other children, which I certainly did that. Having sexual experiences that young shapes our views of sexuality. For me, I was a child who needed a lot of attention, I saw I could get it in spades if it was surrounding sex. That's a confusing picture to paint for a child, and then carrying those remnants into adulthood is so often just this unconscious, silent thing that we don't recognize.

[This message edited by hikingout at 11:17 AM, December 19th (Thursday)]

sisoon posted 12/19/2019 14:26 PM

BS, no stop sign.

Definitely CSA. I'm glad it wasn't worse physically. The fact that others experienced even more violence to themselves than you did doesn't change the fact that you were abused.

I think you can take some pride in your attempts to protect yourself. I'm very sorry the people who should have protected you didn't.

Yes, this was 'enough' to break up the family.

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