Understanding Depression Led to Facing Sexual Abuse by Tracie Nall


I am excited to have my friend and fellow writer Tracy Nall contributing to Emerging from Broken with her guest post on how her search for answers about depression led her to realizing that child sexual abuse was at the root. This article articulates how hard it is to tell someone and describes the setbacks, feelings and damage when someone reacts to that horrifying experience in a minimizing way.  Please help me welcome Tracie and as always please add your comments and feedback.  ~ Darlene ~ founder of EFB

 Understanding Depression Led to Facing Sexual Abuse by Tracie Nall

Tracie Nall

I have traveled a long road to get to the point where I can now speak out about the abuse I survived.

I knew that I needed help before I knew the reason why. Or at least before I would admit it to myself. Depression was something I had battled since my childhood years. By my late teens, I was working in a bookstore, and I found myself regularly drawn to the self-help section, searching to answers for questions I hadn’t articulated.

 One hot summer day, the kind of day when no one wants to leave the comforts of their air conditioners, the bookstore was completely empty, and we hadn’t had a customer for hours. I wandered to the biography section to re-alphabetize books and look for a new read. It was that day I came across a little book where the author shared about her experiences with depression. I skimmed through several chapters, and then hid it behind a stack of books. It scared me how much of my own life I saw reflected in her words.

 Two weeks later, I was at another bookstore on my day off (bookstores are my very favorite places) and found another copy of that book. I wasn’t looking for it. It wasn’t even sitting in the right section. I re-shelved it, and left the store.

 I couldn’t get away from that book about depression, though, because the next day at work someone came into my store looking for it. I finally bought a copy of my own to take home and read. But I went back to the other store to get it – not wanting my coworkers to see me purchase a book about someone with depression issues and start asking questions.

 I still have my copy of that book. It is marked up, highlighted, the margins written in…If you look closely at those margins, there are small snippets of my abuse story written in code. Those snippets were the beginning of me admitting to myself what had happened in my childhood. I started counseling sessions soon after that.

 My counselor was sweet. Her office was painted light blue, and there was crochet doilies and covers on everything that stood still. She reminded me of a grandma. I spent several sessions dancing around my reasons for seeing her, before I realized that I would never tell her anything of importance. I just couldn’t see her in that light. I called the office the next day and cancelled my future appointments.

 But my heart was bursting to talk. To tell someone what I was starting to admit and the memories that were coming more and more often. My uncle sexually abused me. I tried writing it down, but promptly burned the paper, not wanting anyone to find it.

 I decided to tell a close friend. He had grown up in an abusive home, and I thought that would make it easier to tell him. I showed up at his house with my marked up book, and a container of chewy spice drops, and asked if he would help me do something. I had planned to go to the graveyard where my uncle was buried. I was going to try to make peace, or get closure, or maybe just yell and kick the tombstone a lot. I didn’t know what exactly I was going to do, but it seemed like that was the place to do it. And I knew I wanted to leave those spice drops there as a sign that I was no longer under his abuse or control.

 We stood by the tombstone, and I stammered out, “My uncle. He, um, he used to….well, when I was little, he made me play this game. with these spice drops. And he….”

 At that time, I didn’t know words like “grooming” I didn’t know that sexual abusers sometimes use games as a way to molest children, and I didn’t know how to tell my friend what happened. I said, “He touched me,” I don’t know exactly what I expected. A hug? Support? Something.

 But what I got was, “Did he hit you?” I shook my head. “He didn’t hit you. So what’s the big deal? You are way overreacting.”

 What’s the big deal? That definitely was not what I was expecting. Then he asked if he could eat some of those spice drops I was carrying around. We left the graveyard. I drove, and he sat in the passenger seat eating spice drops. I felt sick.

 I continued to write letters and memories and notes, and then quickly burn them. The reaction of my friend confirmed my thoughts that I shouldn’t let anyone know what I was dealing with. I kept silent for several months, and pulled away from friends. I called that counselor back and got another appointment, but after just a few minutes sitting on her crochet-covered, flowered chair, I knew the visit wasn’t going anywhere. We ended up talking about cookie recipes.

 The next time I spoke the words, I was in coffee shop late one night. A guy sat at my table and we started talking. At one point in the conversation, he told me that he was four years sober, after an arrest for drugs that scared him and changed his life. He was so calm about it. No hiding, no stammering. When he asked me about my family, where I was from, I found myself staring at a painting of a coffee cup hanging behind him and saying, “My uncle molested me.” It came out of my life just like that. I was stunned….and the guy sitting across from me was probably a little stunned, too. To his credit, he didn’t freak out on me. He said something like, “That sucks. Guys like that should be shot,” and asked if I was okay.

 I don’t remember that guy’s name (he asked for my number, but never called me for a date – I can’t say that I’m surprised), but I will forever be grateful to him. I still felt broken after that night, and it was a long time before I spoke those words out loud again. But his simple response allowed me to see that what happened to me was wrong, and it was a big deal, and I wasn’t overreacting or crazy.

Tracie Nall 

Through her journey, Tracie found “Emerging from Broken” and other great sites, including Band Back Together. She has become instrumental in the daily operations and is an Officer of the Board for The Band Back Together Project, a group website “that provides educational resources as well as a safe, moderated, supportive environment to share stories of survival. Through the power of real stories written by real people, we can work together to destigmatize mental illness, abuse, rape, baby loss and other traumas so that we may learn, grow, and heal.”

The site is the brainchild of Becky Harks of Mommy Wants Vodka, and came from her desire to connect with others in her same situation after her daughter was born with a previously undetected neural tube defect. She, along with Jana Anthoine of Jana’s Thinking Place, launched Band Back Together in September of 2010 and it has grown to house over 2000 stories from individuals and over 300 specific resource pages.

Band Back Together would like to invite you to join in helping break the silence behind so many things that we all feel we can’t or shouldn’t talk about. They’re our stories, good or bad, and it’s time to own them.

Join Band Back Together on Facebook, and  the Band Back Together website  Darlene Ouimet on Band Back Together

Categories : Depression



Hi Tracie
Thanks so much for contributing to EFB ~I love this post and I am really happy to have you as a guest. I love how you present the picture of the unsympathetic listener who squishes the first thoughts that perhaps what happened to you was really wrong and really a big deal. This is a HUGE problem for survivors and I think we run into this problem far more often than we run into a supportive ear. It is so important for everyone to know that this IS A BIG DEAL. All abuse is a big deal and all of it is wrong and all of it is the fault of the perpetrator.

I could really relate to the way that you describe the progression.. I started off searching for info that could explain “what was wrong with me”. I never considered that there were “roots” to all of this. I didn’t think that depression came from somewhere, I only thought that something was wrong with me because I was depressed. I didn’t connect the dots to the sexual, physical and emotional abuse of my childhood until I was in my forties. I thought it was me and I thought my depressions were completely separate from that other stuff.. in fact I doubt I ever thought about them at the same time. That was how I coped ~ but separating everything.

Thank you so much for sharing! I am looking forward to the comments and discussion on this post.
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene! Thank you for sharing my post today. I’m honored to be here.

I was a master separator – my feelings and my childhood experiences and my emotions lived in different boxes in my mind.


Hi Tracie,

Solid post. It is so amazing that guy was your doorway to freedom after carrying around your information for so long. Also interesting was the disconnect of the guy who was himself abused. I hope he’s found his way to healing too.

I was not a master of compartmentalising (and I was not sexually abused, though the abuse I endured was all consuming and crippling enough), so I used food as my dissociative helper. Now I have to stay up-to-date in my communications to not repeat the patterns. Life is so much better when we can talk about stuff.



Oh, dear heart. 🙁 I’m so sorry your friend so utterly missed the mark. I’m glad you were able to get it out, though. <3


My first telling was to a counsellor I was seeing about something else. And I stammered and stopped and started, wishing the ground would swallow me up. I was freaked out at the words coming out of my mouth, wondering where in hell these thoughts were coming from – I had no clear memories, I had body memories and a few other small bits and pieces to go on.
I was so freaked I was shaking and it was like a huge tidal wave was about to sweep me away and drown me – I was so overwhelmed with the enormity of what I was saying. But I couldn’t stop – I was being battered and terrified by flashbacks and nightmares and unwanted thoughts kept popping into my mind everyday.
I was supported and given the space to speak – but also helped to hold myself together so I could walk out the door and go home safely – while they worked to find me a regular therapist.
It wa a while later that I told my husband – and a couple of close friends – and they were great too. Most people have been. My circle of friends are all health professionals (like me) – so they do have some training in how to be with people – but I read some posts in horror at the responses some people have gotten. I have been extremely fortunate in having met the right helpers, have the best friends and husband – and how I am today is testament , not only to my own efforts, but also to the love and care they have given to me over the past 2 years.
My past was one of cycles of depression, chronic unhappiness and loneliness, or underachievement. Now I understand what that was about.
My future is going to be different. I can say that now. I never thought I had a future before.


oh my Tracie!! exactly the same here !! I sort of searched for years for someone to outright say to me ‘that was wrong’ but the few people I told ummed and aaahed and didnt want to have and opinion or asked if i enjoyed the rape at all (!!!) .. I only recovered when I told a big strong man friend and he said ‘those guys should be shot .. do you want him killed ??’ I didnt say yes btw .. but for someone to realise how serious the situation was and tell me clearly the man had been wrong .. it took a strong man to have that courage and directness and it sobered me up after over a decade. He had the knee jerk responses that i had lost through intimidation and defeat. So glad you were able to find a good man to talk to at that stage..


I can relate to how discounting it is to be told that your abuse is no big deal. I’ve had my “spice drops” eaten too. It’s so painful to be vulnerable like that, trying to regain some power, only for it to be ripped away. I couldn’t even articulate at the moment how robbed I was feeling. I knew I’d been shut down, but it took time to be able to know for sure that my abuse really was a big deal. Thanks for sharing your story!


I LOVE Tracie and I’m always so touched by these bits and pieces of her survival story!


Karen – Thank you! Being able to talk about things makes it SO much easier to deal with them, and heal, and grow.

C – Thank you my friend. <3


Libby – “My future is going to be different. I can say that now. I never thought I had a future before.” That is so powerful! I know how that feels, to think that you will never have a future, and I love reading that you are in a place where you are looking forward with optimism and hope.

I, too, have been blessed by a husband who has been extremely supportive and loving as I have traveled the healing path. And I have found great support in some of my close friends, as well as online. Writing about my story has been one of the most healing things.


Jacqui – I am so happy that you were finally able to find that person who gave you a response that validated your feelings, acknowledged how wrong what you went through was, and supported you.

Christina – You were so right when you describe it as a moment of trying to regain power only to have it ripped away. That is exactly how I felt, robbed. I’m sorry you have had that happen to you, too.


Beth – I love you too! Thank you for always being so supportive of me!


Tracie, the first people that I told about the incest were my sister and husband. I didn’t tell anyone else for about 4 more years after that and it was probably 10 years later before I asked for help and got into 12-Step programs. I tried fixing others and their problems as a way to not have to look at my own stuff. My husband and I were married for 8 years before I told him. I was afraid he would leave if he knew. I told my sister first. She said something about what I had said to her in front of my husband and when he asked what she meant, then I had to tell him. I don’t know if I would have had the courage to tell him if she hadn’t said what she did. I was still very afraid that people would judge me as bad and blame me for the incest. I was afraid that he wouldn’t love me if he knew. We are still together 30+ years later and our love has grown stronger because of the healing that I have done around the incest. We had some very difficult years while I was learning to feel again and learning how to not let my anger and rage be so distructive. We can heal and learn to not be controlled by our emotions and issues.


Patricia – I really relate to you trying to fix others and their problems to avoid looking at your own stuff.

My (now) husband was the next person I told after this. I told him just a little bit before we were married (because I wasn’t sure I could make it through a marriage, much less sex, and felt he had the right to know what he was getting into). That was probably one of the scariest conversations of my life, but he was really supportive of me. After my daughter was born, I really started working on healing and opened up to him more.

I am happy to hear that your husband has also supported you, and that your marriage has grown stronger as you have worked through healing. It is inspirational to hear you have been together for over thirty years. This summer will be our 10 year wedding anniversary.


[…] Understanding Depression Led to Facing Sexual Abuse […]


Tracie, I can so relate to your story. I still feel uncomfortable with the word “abuse”, and say “hurt” instead. Now in my case it wasn’t as bad as most survivors’ experience or yours, but the trauma was bad enough to cause mental health conditions. I, too, came for help for other reasons, totally unrelated to my trauma, and it took me years in therapy before I was able to utter the word “abuse” (in relation to physical abuse at first) to my therapist, and it was to her directly asking. I was often dismissed too, but now I am glad I have found a good support network.


Tracie, I love that you continued to listen to that small voice inside of you, wanting to tell her story. Good for you.


Sexually & emotionaly abused as an infant, I find it very hard to trust. I just go away. So these posts are my way of getting in touch with the roots. At least working on writing them down. I want to eat right now! But I will breathe & feel. Thanks


Elaina – I am so sorry your mother did that to you. Thank you for trusting us with that piece of your story.

Astrid – Being dismissed hurts so much, especially when you are still trying to find the words to express what happened to you. A good support network is a beautiful thing, I’m happy that you have one.

Mrs4444 – Thank you!

Fai – Every little step on the healing path is a HUGE step!! Breathing and feeling are hard work, and I’m proud of you for doing it.


Hi Its Clare
I know how you feel I keep my Abuse quite for 13 years and didnt let out till 2007. I know I should of said something a very long time ago.
Your friend was wrong you should of said something dont let friends put you off. I went for Councerling but in the end we were going round in Circles so I pulled out of it But know seeing a Specialist which seems to be working very well I feel as If I moving on from the past.
From Clare


Tracie, thank you. I have never said that, or written that, about my mother before. It was reading your post that gave me the courage to do that…. although, after I posted that about my mother, I wished I could somehow delete it, so I guess my courage still isn’t that great.

I HAVE said, before this, that my mother was “inappropriate” sexually. But I have never just said it, point blank, the truth, that she was in fact sexually abusive to me. It’s strange how, saying that, or writing that, was so long a taboo for me. I have long been able to tell about the other horrors that my mother did, her trying to gas us all to death, being the worst one. Why is it that I could tell about THAT, but not about the sexual abuse? I don’t know. But somehow, I think that the sexual abuse, led to all of the other horrors. I think that caused her to hate herself, and to hate her children so badly, that she would then try to kill us.

Right now… I just feel kind of hollow and empty. Like, OK, now I’ve said it. Now What?


~I have been away for a couple of days, but I wanted to quickly say that I totally relate to feeling hollow and empty at a time like that. It is like a punch in the stomach isn’t it? Like “what???” Each time I aknowledge or come out of the fog at a deeper level of something as horrific as what you are talking about, I feel that “now what” feeling. The only answer to “now what”, is just keep going forward. Little bit by little bit we get stronger, clearer and lighter!
Glad you are here and thank you for your courage in sharing that.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Traci, Thanks for being brave enough to write about this. Reading it makes me realize how closed I still am about my sexual abuse. It doesn’t help when the people who care about you don’t want to hear or downplay the seriousness of what happened. I didn’t understand what had happened to me for decades. I’m glad you understand and are facing it while you are young. I’m not young anymore and I’m angry about what my life might have been if it never happened or my parents would have helped me afterwards. Abusers steal our potential.



Hi Everyone!
I have published a new post that I thought might be interesting to the commenters on this one
You can read it here ~ “Is Trust a Necessary Key to Emotional Healing” Darlene ~ founder of emerging from broken


Clare – It is wonderful that you have found a specialist who is helping you. “I feel as If I moving on from the past,” I love the hopefulness in that line.

Elaina – I have put things out there and then had the immediate desire to take them back, I think it is a normal kind of feeling when you take a new step like that. It doesn’t lessen your courage in my eyes at all.

Now what? Breathe!! Allow yourself to sit with those hollow and empty feelings, and see where they go (this can be hard – but you can do it!). And know that when you are ready to take the next step, or have the next revelation, that you aren’t alone.

Pam – “Abusers steal our potential.” yes. this. I am still dealing with the anger I have over this. BUT! I believe that walking through healing at any age will change your life for the better, and it does make a difference. I am sorry that you didn’t have support from your parents or others in your life.

Darlene – Great post on trust!! Thanks again for allowing me to share this piece of my story here, and for all the work you do.


Great post tracie..

Darlene , Libby #5 spoke about ‘body memories’.

Have you written anything on this subject? Or do u know of a helpful site etc that might help with this?

Of all the dreadful soul destroying stuff I have been through, this is by far the most insidious and traumatizing ‘legacy’ of the abuse I suffered. I have been to a few specific sexual assault counseling sessions, I was very happy with the counsellor and service provided however the exercises (mainly to do with body awareness) was just too much for me at the time. I hate to discuss the problems I have with these ‘body memories’ as it just feels shameful, and so very personal. I went thru a period of time when it was happening CONSTANTLY and I COULD NOT make it stop. I ended up at the dr surgery in such a state then was admitted to the mental health unit in hospital. From my understanding it is related to PTSD but finding specific coping techniques have so far eluded me..
Of course it doesn’t really help that I don’t want to say it out loud, for fear I may end up trapped back in that dreadful situation again.. But every now and then it happens after the slightest trigger and it makes me want to, well you know.. Anything to escape the feelings..

I have told my husband about it, and I know he loves me, he has stuck withe thru thick and thin, but to be honest I think he’s put it in the ‘too hard basket’… I think it is almost impossible for anyone to understand what it’s like unless they themselves have experienced it. The amount of hatred and pure disgust I have for my principle abuser once threatened to destroy me, but I have ‘dealt’ with most of that, in the sense that I have grieved a lot for my ‘loss’, however anger and disgust is obviously a normal reaction that I had to give myself permission to feel and process. It’s being able to either switch off or learn to live with it, not sure.. But I tell u it sux BIG TIME.

I hope I haven’t upset or triggered anyone.
Love to all..


Hi Michelle
I have not written about body memories specifically. The best book that I read about any of that is called “repressed memories” by Renee Fredrickson. That book opened my eyes about several things.
Hope that helps. Thanks for sharing. i know this is all very hard and very huge; it was in getting it out, (even on paper where I could look at it) that I was able to see that the shame etc. was not MINE.
Hugs, Darlene


[…] believe that this is true for all depressions too. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is the best term I have seen to describe depression. The name […]
NEW post published on EFB


I don’t know where to start. I don’t feel like being comprehensive. I’m impatient lately. maybe my age, maybe approaching or crashing into menapause decade. Whatever is brewing now is leaving me to sort through the next round of, well frankly, crap. I’m so tired. Years of self help books, therapy, TRYING. Always tried through it all. But I’m weary. I feel bad now because I was never sexually abused like so many others, so I should be fine. Most of my issues were with my mother, and her abandonment and emtional abuse. Then I remember, just a minute, thats not true. My first boyfriend who meant everything to me date raped me. I actually only remembered that about 5 years ago. I guess i never really thought that he raped me bc he was my boyfriend after all. the only person in my life to that point that paid any attention to me and made me feel like I was worthy of anything. I was 16. I kept refusing to have sex with him bc I was too young and afraid of getting pregnant. so he only physically forced me into anal sex so i wouldnt have to worry. So very thoughtful. So I guess i can add sexual abuse and betrayal to the list. I trusted him and he wasnt worthy. he just wanted to do what he wanted to do. like all selfish, abusive people.

For the last 2 years i’ve been seeing a guy that thinks being friends with benefits is just the greatest thing and thinks that i should love and embrace the concept. I wasnt interested from the beginning but he talked me into seeing him bc something is better than nothing, right? Ha! and the time has flown by. I dont seem to meet anyone who wants a nice relationship. Married men are always interested and most recently a sex addict who is just looking to enhance his call sheet. So the last 2 years have been taking a toll on me. I’ve tried repeatedly to get rid of this narcissistic guy and he keeps telling me how great he is and that he cares about me. Totally depressed and twenty pounds later I told him he has absolutely nothing to offer me and i’m not interested in seeing him anymore. the phone and texts dont stop. He’s relentless. I didnt realize this as abuse until recently. Actually until i started reading EFB postings. I feel kind of foolish in hind sight but I’m not gonna beat myself up.

So here I sit with a pile of stuff to do in front of me with a total inability to get anything done. Can’t shake the depression. Cant focus. Dont want to take any phone calls. And of course, TRYING to keep it all together and present to the world as if nothing is wrong. This guy isnt unkind intentionally. I’ve tried to explain to him that bc of my background this relationship is detrimental to me and completely toxic. Maybe someone else might like the parameters but not me. So I feel bad for him bc I am forcing him away. He keeps telling me that I hurt him. I also feel a sense of loss on some level. I’m already lonely most of the time. So I guess I’m all set up for another bout with depression. Which I would pay the devil to avoid. It just doesnt get any easier does it??

And finally I feel bad to post this bc it’s so needy and pathetic. But I’m going to post it just the same. It’s part of the life line I have vowed to go back to and rescue that adorable adandoned and beat up little girl. I will never betray her or abandon her, and if posting this today is what is needed then post it I shall.

Hoping that once I do I will be able to take another step forward.

Much love and hugs to all


If someone would suggest a book that is helpful for understanding and dealing with depression I would be most appreciative. The only thing I’ve read about depression is that it is anger turned inward. I don’t know if that’s true or not but I need to work on the depression. It is so crippling. I want to be happy and I’ve come so far. Thanks 🙂

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