Sexual Abuse and Belief System DevelopmentBy
In my last post “Sexual Abuse ~ Devalued, Discounted and Unprotected” I talked about one incident where I was sexually abused and the damage that I became aware of. In this post I talk about some of the other events in my life that actually groomed me to believe that I had something to do with this incident of sexual abuse and some of the things that I realized about this particular sexual assault later on in my recovery process. I hope to illustrate how the belief system formed in me and how I was able to take it apart by looking at how it formed in the first place.
It took me several hours in therapy to dig through all the details so this is just the quick version to hopefully give you an idea of what I am talking about.
~When I was six years old my mother began teaching me that my value was sexual. It is important that you read the post about this in order to understand how my belief system formed. Click: The Progression of Mental Health Breakdown
~I had already learned not to bother expecting to be protected via previous events that I had been ignored ~ I highlight this in the post about the teacher who was picking on me so much that I developed a serious illness and the Pediatrician figured it out. Once again it is important to understand how a belief system forms even before the abusive or trauma event takes place. This was key in my recovery from abuse ~ to realize it began in several different places. This post has nothing to do with sexual abuse, but is about emotional abuse and how my parents failed to take care of me. Click: Psychological and Emotional Abuse ~ How Self Doubt Grows
~Regarding the sexual assault when I was 14~ it wasn’t me that told, it was my Aunt who told. I didn’t realize how key this was in why I gave up hope after this particular sexual assault. This is a huge point because I think deep down I believed that if someone ELSE told my Mom that she would actually do something ~ I was just so sure it was because I had been labeled as a “story teller” (and therefore my own fault) that that was the reason no one would believe me.
~My body responded. I woke up and my body had responded to his touch. I blocked this out and I didn’t acknowledge it for many years but deep down I knew it and it made me feel very guilty and ashamed. In my young mind I believed that I must be very bad for having that reaction.
~My mother denied that it happened. She said that I was mistaken. She never for one minute gave any indication that it might have actually happened. Which at the time made me feel discounted and eventually it made me question my own memory. This had happened in the past too, but what was different this time is that my Aunt was a witness which helped me to at least partially accept that it was a true memory. I hoped that this time I would be heard and validated.
~although my mother denied that it happened, the fact that she added at the end that I had a crush on him, indicated not only that she believed it happened but that it was my fault. I didn’t realize this fact however until I was well into my late thirties.
~the fact that he was drunk was used as an excuse and it was HER excuse for letting him stay in the house that night. She had broken up with him because she found out he was married, and he showed up at the house drunk, and she didn’t want him to drive. SO she let him have her room and she slept downstairs on the couch. She also kept repeating that he didn’t remember doing it. (which in my mind meant that if he said he didn’t do it, then he didn’t ~ but that is like saying it isn’t raining when it is, makes it true) If she had believed and defended me, this would not have been such a big deal, but the way she handled it made HIM more important than ME. And I concluded (what choice did I have?) that my value was less than his value.
~with each boyfriend that my mother had after that, she acted like I was her competition. She said inappropriate things about me in front of her boyfriends which I had no idea was strange, I just thought it was hurtful. I didn’t realize until much later that this was because she really believed that I had done something to invite her drunk boyfriend to come into my room. (I had a LOT of trouble accepting that she really truly blamed me and I preferred to make excuses for her in my own mind. I felt sorry for my mother for years and years.)
~Because I believed that my mother was right ~ that I had a crush on him and therefore I had done something to invite him to my room, psychologically, I believed that I had done something very wrong that somehow invited him to come into my room and I didn’t know what it was, so I spent YEARS living in fear that I would do “it” again and invite or cause another assault. I also spent years trying to figure out what the heck “it” was that I had done, believing that if I figured that out I would not repeat the mistake.
~Instead of being able to talk about the assault, to tell my mother how terrified that I was, what went through my mind, what he said, what he did, and how I tried to get away, I was caught in a second nightmare of defending myself to my mother. She never once asked me what happened.
This kind of self blame stayed with me until I got help re-wiring my belief system, and it had a effect on the way that I lived the rest of my life, the choices I made, my self esteem and my self image and the way that I did relationship. I also had to learn to re-parent myself and I had to start going back to that young age where I really needed a parent but didn’t really have one. I had to validate myself and stop believing that if she finally heard me and said that she believed me now ~ that I would finally be okay.
The complicated thing here is that the post about Phillip coming in my room was only ONE event. Mix a few more in there that are equally mishandled and add the other events that teach us that we don’t really have much value and guess what happens. Well I think you already know.
I welcome comments, feedback, stories or whatever you would like to share.
Exposing Truth ~ one snapshot at a time!