Sexual Abuse and Belief System Development


sexual abuse, recovery, depression

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!

Darlene Ouimet

16 response to "Sexual Abuse and Belief System Development"

  1. By: Nikki Posted: 19th September

    Thank you Darlene : ) I try to convey myself as best as possible however there are times I do get caught up in a thought and go with it LOL And I am glad you are that way as well!

    Nicole I agree it is very confusing to have all that mix and I know that feeling all to well and also the feeling of being stuck in the middle somewhere(((HUGS))) to you and I am sorry you have had to face such things in your own life, just remember you are not alone!

  2. By: Nicole Posted: 19th September

    I can relate to this blog way too much 🙁 I am so sorry you went through this Darlene but I am glad you found the truth and have been able to move on in a positive way. For me I think I am still stuck in the middle somewhere. It is such a struggle when you mix abuse, parental and family denial and church all together…Very confusing and a lot to sort out. It funny how your mother as well as mine just expected us to join in on their denial… we were going to forget what happened? hmmmm…. Lots to think about tonight…God bless you Darlene and everyone else too

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 20th September

      Being stuck in the middle somewhere it better then not being on the journey at all! That is my theory anyhow. =) The key is in sorting through the mix that you discribe ~ that is how I got to the bottom of it. Half the battle was seeing how many factors were part of the end result that was my life. As long as we are on the road, we move forward.
      and about mothers expecting us to just forget… I wonder if my mother forgot what happened to her?? She said to me so many times things like “well no matter how much my mother hurt us (her and her siblings) we still loved her”. I was like … UMM WHY? I don’t get why I am supposed to love someone. Obligated to love? Doesn’t seem like love to me. I would not have loved her mother. Today I have a different definition of love, and I think that it is loving for me to draw boundaries with my parents. It isn’t good for them to get away with abusing me. It doesn’t help improve thier lives either. (there is my rant for the day!)
      Thanks for sharing
      Hugs, Darlene

  3. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 19th September

    Hi Nikki,
    I should have clarified ~ I wanted to make sure that any other readers understood both sides of the free choice topic because it was a huge issue for me and I used it against myself way more then I applied it to any abuser or controller.

    I knew what your were saying, and you are right about that for sure! I think you and are are a bit alike in this… we want to make sure that everyone understands our intention!

    I love that! (about both of us!)
    Love Darlene

  4. By: Nikki Posted: 19th September

    Darlene I know that feeling when I have also had to come to the realization of things which did happen to me. It has always been easy for me to relate things in a third person point of view however when I started relating the reality of the abuse in a first person point a view it was a jolt to the system.

    And I totally agree with you about the “free will” thing however I was trying to point out why often Religion protects the abuser and leaving the abused exposed to being re-abused. Because as long as they can excuse such a behavior then the abuser can “claim” that they have repented yet go on and continue to abuse others.

    With me I was so convinced that I was either being controlled or manipulated by God, like a puppet on a string that I felt even worse about the abuse that happened to me and then when I reacted or acting out because of the abuse that I received in a poor manner I assumed I had become the devil’s advocate.

    The reality I had to come to is that God does not manipulate us that we each have a free will thus the ones who abused me were at fault and not because God condoned it or because I “Deserved it” I also realize that my reactions or acting out may have been in a poor manner however I wasn’t the devil’s advocate instead I was a very wounded child that grew up to be a very wounded adult that did not know how to convey such deep pain.

    That is how tangled up I was about the situation in which made it nearly impossible for me to breathe because I felt as though I could not go to God because I had failed. Truth is I did not fail, instead I was lead to believe a lie as a child, while the fault lay with the abuser not with me nor with God.

    By knowing I have a free will means freedom to me in many ways, one way it has meant freedom to me is that I don’t have to justify someones actions towards me that I am not going to be condemn for not justifying those actions. Instead I can live in the truth!

    I didn’t mean to jump off into all that without explaining why that was a light bulb moment for me to realize we do have a free will.

  5. By: Nikki Posted: 19th September

    Wow I so can relate to what Eddie said on this as well. My first memories of church was that my mom took me and my siblings to church, my dad only went only every now and again. It wasn’t until I was 11 years old that my dad became a preacher. He had a on the job accident that nearly took his life. It was after this event that my dad did become a preacher .. which factors in many questions now for me in many ways! Because of this event I had to become the adult (once again in my life) during this time because my mom was staying at the hospital with my dad over two and a half hours away, while my siblings and I were shuffled around from relative to relative for a month or more. This event alone overwhelmed me so much that I begin to actually disconnect in many ways, this is when I created my own fantasy world. There was so much more that happened this coincided with back to back traumatic events in my life!

    I to believed that God was like some giant puppet master in the sky, that is why by the time I was a teenager I believed that I was nothing more than His big joke. I turned away from Him and started dabbling in things that were not good for me. I stayed angry with God for so long, what I realized though is that the god I was angry with was not the real God, however the god I was angry with was this man made religious fictitious “god” … Now I am in the process of learning about the real God.

    It is amazing how we dis-regard those foundational years of our early life, but those years are very important because it is in those years that the foundation of what we think, believe, and perceive about life truly does set the standard in our lives.

    I am now in the process of taking each of these things in my life and re-looking at them as well. The other day I realized what has been the deepest point of my grief, I could not for the life of me understand why I had such deep sorrow, due to some circumstances that has happened in the last year I found this grief coming to the surface and what I realized was that I never grieved over loosing my childhood so early in my life.

    It is awful how the adults in our life who should have been their protecting us and standing up for us failed to do so. Realizing this has made me more aware of my own actions now (being that I am an adult now)..

    What I have also realized is that God is not a puppet master instead it is very clearly written in His word that He has given us a “free will” thus He does not manipulate us nor control us like puppets on a string and neither does the devil. (that is something else I had to realize because of how things have been all messed up in my mind by these man made religions) … We as human beings have a choice and we can either choose to do good or to do bad. By blaming God or blaming the devil as many of these religions do … takes away the countability of the individual, thus those who abuse can claim The devil made them do it … This is how religion allows abusers to continue to abuse because they make it to be that either we are under God’s puppet strings or we are being used by the devil.. this is a lie and an excuse.. scripture says that God does not allow a temptation to come upon us in which is uncommon to us and that He does provide a way of escape from temptation thus we each have a choice.

    This very thing right here is the reason I have stepped away from church for over a year now. In truth many religions spawn superstitions which is fear. It is interesting that one of the original meanings of a religion is “To tie or bind to” Actually James 1:27 gives God’s definition of true religion and it has nothing to do with fear or tying to or binding however it is to do with love!

    I am so glad to really realize the truth and the truth is we have a free will! And that God does not condone abuse!

    I am sorry for this being so long but the blog and Eddie’s comment hit on a central point in my own journey!

    Thank you Darlene once again I love the way you capture truth one snap shot at a time!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 19th September

      It is really huge the things that we realize about our lives when we start to dig into the foundation, isn’t it? And it is very sad too. It hurts to realize that this is what happened to us when we are mere children. It is very hard to accept that “this happened to me”. I remember when I began to come out of the fog and start to realize that some of the things that happened to me were really seriously awful.. I sat in my therapists office and said (in a kind of shocked, stunned voice) “that happened to ME…. it happened to ME…. that was ME.” as though I couldn’t comprehend that it had happened to me. It was an odd thing to come to terms with. It hurts to realize that our own parents had a part in it. And things happen in life, that is for sure.. but when children are ignored and pushed aside it is devastating to the child ~ we can’t help but believe that we just don’t matter.

      Just as a caution ~ The problem that I have with the whole “free will” thing is that we so easily use it to beat our own selves up with. I had to concentrate on the recovery part before I thought about my free will. I had been given the free will lecture forever ~ but no one had ever taught me or helped me to become an adult. There was this missing section in there where I was abused and not taken care of, not protected and not valued at all. I was powerless to fight against the abuse and then suddenly I was an adult ~ responsible for my own choices. I am not saying that when I was depressed and broken that I wasn’t accountable for my own choices, but that I honestly didn’t know any better. My belief system ran the show and the knowledge that I did have I used against myself to kind of “reinforce” the guilt and shame. That is what I had to get over. I had to fix that belief system. Today I have a much easier time with scripture and free will and all that stuff.. but only because I sorted my belief system out and put things through the grid of truth now, instead of the old grid full of false beliefs.

      As always Nikki, you share a ton of thought provoking stuff! Thanks so much!
      Hugs, Darlene

  6. By: Maggie a/k/a grace2244 Posted: 18th September

    Everything is at least THAT complex. Layers and layers of messages targeted at us. The objective was to destroy sense of self, confidence, esteem, even the ability to have any respond to a cry for help. It sounds like you were not a victim of the structured underground but a very dysfunctional family. Either way, it’s a trap. Glad you are able to break this down to show the levels.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 18th September

      Hi Maggie,
      I am not sure what the structured underground is ~ can you explain? I might have been a part of that too. =)

      Yes, I come from a very dysfunctional family ~ and just so the readers understand ~ it was an upper middle class family, very well regarded in the community, we had manners and breeding ~ was raised knowing what all the forks were for and going to all the best resturants, had the best clothing, beautiful home and yearly vacations at the sea shore ~ the “right freinds” etc. etc. the outside was squeeky clean and perfect looking. But nothing was right.
      Thanks Maggie ~ you are right about one thing ~ either way it’s a trap.
      Hugs, Darlene

  7. By: Rebekah Posted: 17th September


    I can’t even explain how much I can relate to what you said here. I am so sorry that you had to go through all of that and that your dad was the way that he was. You did not deserve that.

    What you said about the spiritually aspect of things is so true. I grew up in church my whole life, I was always in church. My dad is a pastor and was a pastor my entire life. I thought that God was mad at me and that He was punishing me as well. I thought that He wanted those bad things to happen to me. I thought He chose for me to be molested and abused all of those times. I was mad at and bitter at God as a teenager. I remember trying to talk to one of my teachers in the Christian school that I went to. I had asked him if he had ever been mad at God. He got upset with me and couldn’t even believe that I asked such a thing. He took awards away from me because of that.
    My dad was very distant from me my whole life, even to this day. He never wanted to hug me, sometimes it seemed like he could barely look at me. Sometimes I just wanted to die. I swore that I was adopted and that I shouldn’t be a part of my family. My mom would always ask me why I never smiled and told me I should, that we needed to look happy in front of my dads congregation at church. She would ask me why I didn’t have friends as well. I wouldn’t say anything. Then she would quote scripture to me “a man that hath friends must shew himself friendly” I didn’t want friends. I was afraid to have friends. I didn’t want to be close to anyone. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I wanted to be alone. I was afraid to be alone at the same time. It was a vicious thing. Hard to understand and explain. I hated my life. I remember laying in my bed at night afraid, wishing God would just kill me. If He was so angry to make me go through such horrible things, why wouldn’t He just kill me and then it would all be over! I did everything I knew how to please my parents and make them happy with me, but I could never quite get there. I wasn’t necessarily bad, I mean, my parents were very strict and “spank” which was more like beat for the smallest things. It was never done in the right way. Consaquently, from what happened to me when I was 4 and then later on, I started associating pain with love and sex. It caused huge problems in my marriage when we were first married. Everytime we would try and do anything I would totally freak out on him and start crying uncontrollably. We had been married for over a year before we consummated our marriage. That was the longest one of the hardest years of my life. It’s so crazy how things from our childhood affects much of our future.

    Thankfully I have gained a wonderful relationship with God now. I am growing closer and closer to Him. I know that He did not cause any of the things that happened to me. I know that it was not in His plan for my life. It was wicked horrible people that made bad choices and since we all have a free will that’s why it happened. God has been good to me. My husband is actually an assistant pastor now. I have a completely different view of God and church now than I did as a child, teenager and even from just a few years ago. It’s amazing the freedom that God gives. Even though I am definitely not healed completely and I have so much to deal with on a regular basis I know that God will help me. It has helped so much being able to freely share things on this blog.

    Thank you Darlene for starting this blog and allowing us to share freely and tell our stories as we are able to.

  8. By: Eddie Posted: 17th September

    Hi Darlene,

    There’s sooo much I can write about this aspect of this, I have it all swirling in my head as I was reading through your post. I’ll try and remember it all and get it down here before I forget some points.

    Our belief system — I’m going to go off on a spiritual tangent here for a moment, because this was something that really got whacked for me growing up and it is only through my own initiative (and the Grace of God) that I was able to undo it and set it right again. When I was little, we went to church all of the time up until I was about 6, at which time we just stopped going. I don’t know why that was, but we just did. But in those formative years, I remember going to Sunday school and the concepts I remember from that were that God made everything. He made it rain, He made the grass, He made me, etc. Basically, God was pulling the levers and pushing the buttons and making everything happen. So I believed all of that because it was what I had been told.

    Years later, when the sexual abuse started, you can imagine how that colored my thinking – “Why is God letting this happen to me?” Of course I thought I must be a really bad person for this to happen to me, otherwise, it wouldn’t, right? As I learned in church, God punishes bad people, so this must be my just rewards for being bad in some way. So that set up my teenage years for being bitter with God and having a basic “I don’t care” attitude about everything in general. The drugs, drinking, etc., all fell into that and sometimes I look back in wonder at how I lived through it, but also how I managed to keep it so secret from those around me as well. It wasn’t until I was in my early 20s that I finally got my head straight with God and became a Christian. I still struggle in my relationship with Him, but it gets better.

    My father’s abusiveness towards us was another factor in forming my beliefs. It basically made me believe that there was nothing within myself of any value, so life became just kind of an existence. Get up, go to school, come home, end another day. So my belief in myself formed from his lack of a relationship with me made me think that no one would want to know me, or would ever appreciate me. When the creep named Dave came along, he of course could see that I believed in nothing good about myself. And since I had no positive beliefs about myself, he knew he could form those however he wanted, which he did. I had no close friends, and I remember him talking to me about that. He would ask me “What’d you do with your friends today?”, even though he knew I had none. When I told him as much, he said something like “Well, you don’t really need those friends anyway.” So there he was instilling the belief in me that (a) I didn’t need any friends but him, and (b) that “those friends” were somehow inferior to him. Later, after he took the relationship sexual with me, he turned this belief around on me. It was now “If anyone ever finds out about this, you won’t have any friends.” And “Your friends will think you’re gay if they find out.” So he instilled false beliefs, and then twisted them later into further false beliefs. This was the guy who was a psychologist by profession, so he knew exactly how to get in my head and work it.

    On the thing about having a physical reaction to the abuse, Dave used that against me as well. The human body is simply wired to respond to touch, so of course I did as well. And he used that to try and justify his abuse with “Look, you like that.” So that just heaps on the shame and guilt that came because of course I believed him and everything he was telling me. Ugh, what a mess!

    Sorry this is so long, I was on a tear!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 18th September

      The following comment came in from Bonnie and she has asked me to post it for her ~ Darlene
      Bonnie writes; sexual abuse–when I was 17–I tryed to tell my family that -a professional person had voilated me -and when-I did–they just said -“ohh I’m sure he would do that?”
      To me it was the people , like other professionals that saw the abuse and asked me if they could report him–I did not want out of fear–as –years later -he attempted to take my life–and that was–the LIMIT-
      but he got away with it–that is how little people like me ‘dont win’
      guess maybe that is why my book is NOT selling–no one wants to read about sexual abuse or even talk about it
      But now–we have an army of people
      to confide in–darlene–I thank you


      • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 18th September

        Hi Bonnie,
        To not be believed is extreemly invalidating and devaluing. It also gives the foundation to low self esteem because it sets up the belief that we don’t matter. I am so sorry that your situation escalated from there ~
        Thank you for sharing this peice of your life and yes, talking about this is healing.
        Hugs, Darlene

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 18th September

      Hi Eddie,
      Once again you hit it out of the park ~ (and please feel free to “go on a tear” anytime you want!)
      My kids all did some time in Christian School. I took them out when I realized the damage that was being done, but the damage was pretty big. Two of my children have renounced their faith. So….. after I read your post last night, I asked my youngest daughter (young teenager now) if she had an image of God sitting up in “there” pulling levers and controlling every thing like we were all robots down here. She told me that is what they were taught in Christian School. (I pulled her out about 6 weeks before the end of grade 5; she was sick with the stress of guilt and shame which were the methods that they use to scare kids into obedience) She said that God controlled everything so if you got in trouble you did something to deserve it because God controlled that too. I didn’t raise my children that way, (I wasn’t raised with that and the spiritual abuse in my life happened when I was an adult) but the school and the positional power that teachers have, overruled anything that I tried to teach them about a loving God etc. They were taught such alien concepts to how I understood the bible. All for the purpose of power and the misuse of power in order to control people.

      AND yes, you are right, what that does is set a person up to believe that when these bad things happen it is our own doing, and as you say, mix that in with a father or mother or both parents, who seem not to give a hoot about our emotional well being (or any other well being) and who don’t seem to teach us anything about our own value or assist us in building our own self esteem, then we are prime targets for abusers. (and we are even willing to take on their guilt and shame because we are conditioned to do so!) Freaking crazy!

      Thanks for this post Eddie, you brought up a whole other aspect of how the belief system forms.
      Hugs, Darlene

      There is so much that I could respond to from what you have written here but what stuck out the most was your statement “It’s so crazy how things from our childhood affects much of our future.” It was key for me to understand this point. We are taught things in such a funky way ~ and then we grow up and we are somehow told that none of our childhood matters anymore because we are adult now and it is up to us to take care of our issues, put the past behind us, We are responsible (suddenly) for our problems and reactions to things… but we were never really raised right in the first place and we are not equipped to deal with any of life on life’s terms. If we even dare to hint at that, we are looked down on as crazy. This is the maze of false belief system that we are trying to navigate our way out of. Busting one lie at a time, we can do it.

      Oh and about the Christian School ~ that is what happened to my kids too, you can’t ask a question ~ (why not?) because they can’t tell you the answer because they can’t dare admit something like that (everyone has been mad at God) because they too believe that if they ever had a real feeling that was (falsely) taught to them as sinful, then they will go directly to hell.

      Thanks so much for your response Rebekah!
      Hugs, Darlene

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