My Long Journey to Healing
Surviving Sexual Assault and Abuse
At ten years of age I learned that not even family was safe, that the closest to you are sometimes the most hurtful, the most cruel and have the most negative impact on you.
I was an introverted child, nothing special really, I was cooperative and obeyed my mom and dad, got As in school, I loved to read and write poems, I could read three books a week with no issues. As I said, I did well in school, I even brought home extra homework (as you can probably guess I was a really popular kid ...) To most I'm sure it simply looked as if I was a hardworking ambitious sort. The truth was much more complex and painful. I hid that truth from the world for a long while.
The way I escaped my life was extra homework, straight A's, book after book... Poem after poem. Anything to distract me from reality.
I grew up in a toxic home, there is really no other way to say it. An alcoholic father who left for months at a time, a mom who worked long hours and was a bit manipulative. I don't know if it was her upbringing or not, but she was. I had 2 siblings. A twin sister and an older brother. Though I do not call him that anymore, nor do I have any type of relationship or communication with him.
My older brother, older by five years, was who my mom (and father, when he was home) left in charge of us daily, meaning after school. She worked around twelve hours a day and would often stay late to do stocking or inventory.
Some nights she wasn't home until after nine or ten at night. This left numerous hours during the day where my sister and I were left alone with my brother.
To explain my brother is to dredge up painful memories, some I have discussed in detail with my therapist, some are far too difficult to talk about. But to give a general idea...
He was a cruel person, to humans and animals alike. A bully who loved to show you just how weak you were compared to him. He abused every member of the household. Several years in a row he destroyed our Christmas trees and broke gifts, he destroyed anything he knew was important to another (baby photos, dolls, books etc); in short, he was destructive and abusive.
My sister and I endured beatings, not the harmless annoyances most siblings go through. These beatings, for example, left my sister without a toenail and me with a gash above my right eye. We were dragged by our hair, had pillows placed over our faces until we were close to passing out and urinated on, he would laugh when we begged him to stop, and we did beg.
I now know my brother is a sociopath. The animal abuse was a dead giveaway. Of course even without that the sociopath part applies.
The abuse was intolerable most days. Though I honestly remember thinking later that the beatings weren't all that bad, after he began sexually abusing us.
At first it was just touching. As a 10 year old I was naive and unaware of what it all meant. I hated it, every time he touched me I wanted to scream, but was afraid of his retaliation if I moved or called out for help.
He did this for months, creeping in to sleep in our bed and touch us.
Then it escalated as such things always do, I won't go into explicit details, it's unnecessary. My twin and I both endured this fate. We dealt with it, silently, while our spirits were ripped to shreds.
It went on for a year. Until my brother ended up in legal trouble and had to be sent to a juvenile offender facility.
We were so relieved. He was gone (even if just for a few months) and we didn't have to endure the abuse every day.
About a month after his arrest, an officer came to our school. He talked to my class about sexual, physical, and emotional abuse. That's when I realized fully what my brother had been doing to us. I felt sick to my stomach, ashamed, embarrassed, and wanted to cry, but knew I couldn't.
I wondered if the officer or kids in class secretly knew what my brother had been doing to us. I wanted to crawl out of my skin. At the same time I was angry, angry he had done this to us and wanted to see him punished. This of course was mixed with the feelings of doubt, shame, and fear. To speak meant exposing my fears, the shame and admitting out loud that I had been raped. I felt conflicted. I know now this is normal, but at the time I thought I must have been complicit otherwise why would I feel bad or guilty?
It took me days to work up the courage to tell my parents. I felt only slightly safer since my brother was gone at that time. But still feared his reach.
I told my parents. I told them about it all (they knew of the physical abuse, they saw the cuts and bruises). However, I was unprepared for their reaction. The officer had told the class that we would be safe, believed, and trusted. That we would be able to count on adults. But that wasn't true. I realized that his threats of being blamed myself or disbelieved were in fact accurate.
My parents immediately became defensive. Asking me who I had told. Telling me I must have "misunderstood" his actions. I sat there for what felt like an eternity being scrutinized. My words twisted and picked apart.
I felt ashamed, dirty, and betrayed.
My parents acted as if I had created a problem for them personally. Sadly, I began to regret having told them.
Soon after my brother's 16th birthday he was released. Fortunately he stayed at friends' houses only randomly coming home.
After his release the sexual abuse/rape stopped, as he was rarely at the house. I doubt his moving out had much to do with my parents. There were no cops called. No punishment or justice. They never even confronted him, in fact they never mentioned any of it again.
When my brother was home he was abusive, damaging our possessions, hitting us, locking us in closets, etc.
That is still how he does things, having last assaulted my sister in 2016, slapping her over a couch for daring to talk back to him.
I haven't spoken to him in about seven years. And can honestly say that distancing myself from this poisonous being has helped me tremendously, I no longer have to deal with his ugliness or apathy.
I am a mom, a nail technician, and I advocate for other victims/survivors. I am in therapy currently, for a long while I felt that therapy was pointless after all these years. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It's been helpful in my healing process. I'm trying now, in my late thirties, to fix the damage that was done. To heal.
My parents never took us to dentists, therapists, and rarely took us for yearly checkups. I had to figure out for myself how to maneuver health issues and get myself help. And I now help others to find the help they need.
My therapy has been a blessing. Dealing with the shame and hurt all these years, I can now say I no longer feel ashamed. I feel empowered. I am telling the truth and he cannot stop me, threaten or harm me.
I know some will think "why write about it now," or "why write such a depressing tale"? Truthfully, I am doing it for me. My healing and my voice are top priority to me now. But... I also wrote this for anyone who has gone through, is going through or unfortunately, will go through this kind of abuse. I want that person to know they are not alone. They are not to blame. They are not dirty or complicit. They are strong, they are brave, they are survivors.