Surviving Childhood Sexual Abuse
A brief overview of my history of Childhood Sexual Abuse.
I was born in January 1989. At birth, I had two older sisters, and over the next seven years, I would gain a brother and two younger sisters. During my first five years, I lived in the suburbs of a large city. My mom homeschooled my siblings and me, and my family was very conservative and identified as fundamentalist Christians. At age 5, we moved to my paternal Grandparents' farm, where my cousins lived as well.
I started remembering my sexual abuse in September of 2017. I've since remembered being sexually abused by five separate people between the ages of 1-15.
I'm going to pause here real quick, for a trigger warning. As you might expect, this topic can be triggering; please take care of yourself. If this post triggers memories of your own, please seek support. If you don't know who to reach out to, start with 800.656.HOPE (4673). This number belongs to the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline.
My earliest memory of abuse happened while I was pre-verbal, and I believe I was between the ages of 1-2. It was a female adult relative who was abusing me. They were frequently left in charge of me alone, or with my siblings. I believe this abuser stopped hurting me by age 5. Because I was pre-verbal, a majority of my earliest abuse memories are body memories rather than visual. During flashbacks of these earlier memories, I generally feel the abuse rather than see it. My thoughts during the flashbacks are simplistic, "Bad" or "Why?" with intense feelings of confusion and terror.
By seven years old, I believe 3-4 separate people were concurrently abusing me. It was age seven that my siblings and I started a constant fight against pneumonia and other lung health issues (more on the relevance of this later!).
In my 8-year-old well-child checkup, my doctor noted that I was socially isolated and shy. I have two years worth of journal entries where at least weekly I would ask to have a friend over and was consistently denied. My doctor didn't know this, but he was aware that my only friends were my cousins. After those two years, I gave up. I stopped trying to make friends outside the family until college. My Mom would continuously tell me about how much she didn't like my only friend, my female cousin closest to me in age. Constantly. Sometimes for over an hour. More about my feelings towards how my doctor handled my family, will be in a future post. Stay tuned!
My second abuser, I believe, started sexually abusing me at age 5-6. It may have started much earlier than that, but it's challenging to sort through my earliest memories. This abuser was another female adult relative. It's tough for me to know when the abuse stopped, though I think it was between ages 7-12. I don't remember much about the day this relative died. I do remember my Mom saying this relative hung on for me. Before recalling the abuse, this was very confusing. I never liked this relative, even though all other family members seemed to adore her. Now that I've remembered the abuse, it's more disgusting than anything.
It's difficult for me to remember when the last three abusers started hurting me. Part of me thinks they all started around the same time, around age 6. Another part of me thinks it started with one, and slowly, all three were abusing me. All three of these abusers are my older male cousins. It's also difficult for me to remember when it stopped. I believe it stopped between ages 10-15.
The youngest of my three older cousins was the "kindest" of them all. I don't believe that it started maliciously. I think it started somewhat consensual. I am NOT excusing what he did to me, but this fact has caused a lot of guilt and shame, and I think others may relate. He ended up being manipulative. He would convince me he needed my help. He would be in pain if I didn't. Very manipulative, but made me feel like I had a choice.
The two oldest cousins were the most horrifically abusive people in my life. They would tie me up. They would use sticks to penetrate me. Sticks I would be forced to pick out. They would spit at me and throw things at me. They tortured me physically, sexually, and mentally. Within the first year of moving onto the same farm as my cousin's and joining the same church as them, these two had made sure every child we mutually knew hated my sisters and me. My older cousins and their friends constantly bullied us. Our crimes? Being from the city, being female, and moving next door to them.
I was not the only childhood sexual abuse victim in the family. Out of the six female children who lived on the farm, four have shared their horrific memories. One of the youngest victims was the first to share her story at age 16. She bravely paved the way for the rest of us almost ten years ago.
There you have it, a brief overview of my Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA). Keep an eye out for my future posts, as I dig deeper into CSA's longterm-effect, and my healing process.