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My story for the first time. Was I abused?

Posted: Fri Jun 21, 2019 3:55 pm
by Calelake
Okay, this is the first time I have said this.

I think I am a survivor of child abuse and neglect. I was traumatized when I was a child.

I didn’t want to call it abuse. I wasn’t sure it was abuse until recently (when I looked up the definitions of child abuse online), and it wasn’t as bad as others have experienced. Plus, I love my family and believe they did the best they could. Is it really abuse? I do think it's trauma.

Long, detailed descriptions ahead.

I grew up with six siblings in a small house. We were poor. I never went to the dentist or to regular doctor checkups. My parents were overwhelmed. They needed help. My dad was a big guy, pretty strict, and gave us painful spankings to discipline us. He and my mom did not come upstairs. Not to check on us or clean or anything. There were five children sleeping upstairs, and I remember my mom coming up the stairs maybe a total of six times when I was growing up. My dad, maybe two times. When they needed us, they would call up to us from the bottom of the stairs.

The first thing:

I’ve always felt an almost subconscious aversion to my dad. There are probably things I don’t remember, but there is one strong memory that always stuck out in my mind. When I was a little girl, maybe six years old, I remember my dad taking me away from the main living area of the house—it felt like a deliberate effort to get me alone--and into his and my mom’s bedroom. He put me on the bed and held me down. He started tickling me excessively to the point that I couldn’t breathe. Something felt different, something felt off. When I could speak I said "Stop!" and he said “No!” like he was a little kid who wouldn’t be told what to do, and he kept tickling me roughly. It hurt and I could barely breathe. It felt violent. Then he put his hands under my shirt and tickled me on my bare chest for most of the time, then all over my clothes. This went on for a long while and I hated it. I told him to stop at least one more time, maybe several more, and he kept saying no. That’s all I remember of that. There were other times I remember feeling uncomfortable with him, and I never liked him touching me. This morphed to feelings of disgust and contempt for him in my teenage years.

Another memory that sticks with me happened when I was 14. My dad was the co-pastor of a tiny church and my parents made me go every Sunday. I had major issues with my dad already, and here he is standing up delivering a sermon every Sunday when at home he didn’t live up to what he preached. I thought he was hypocritical. I didn’t like to be forced to go to church every week. I didn’t like how he sang the hymns so loud. I didn't like the way he looked. Also at this time I was extremely shy, painfully self conscious, awkward, dreaded speaking in front of people, and avoided interactions with people like paying for gas, ordering pizza on the phone, etc. I guess my mom and dad decided that I would sing a hymn at the pulpit in front of everyone that day. It was something I had done in the past together with two other girls when I was little-little, but never alone and not in many years. That morning before the service started I was supposed to go up to the dais and practice the song. I refused to do it. I told them I didn’t want to do it. I couldn’t do it. I don’t think that I’d ever told them before that yes, I WOULD do it, but I’m not sure. I just refused to get up from my chair when they told me to. No way was I getting up there in front of everyone. My parents were enraged. I think they were worried about what everyone would think. My dad dragged me out of the chapel area into the tiny kitchen area and beat me for not doing what he said. I was humiliated and I remember screaming and wanting to fight back. Later, there was a joke or story in my family that my mom would tell about how it was funny that when the first church family walked in the door that morning, the little boy's eyes got really big because he could hear me screaming from the back of the church. So I guess it was normal and funny that a 14-year-old-girl was screaming and getting hit and spanked in a church by her father the pastor for refusing to sing a song. Because it was my fault and I was a brat.

When I was a little older, 15 maybe, I remember the last physical altercation with my dad. He was always overweight and was then and is still now obese. When the family was sitting around the dinner table, the mood was already tense, I made a smartass comment or angry outburst about how maybe he should stop eating so much and leave some for the rest of us. He reached across the table and hit me on the face. I remember the bite of the burger I was chewing fell out of my mouth from the blow. I jumped up from the table and rode my bike away. My mom had to find me later.

Wow. When I see it all written out like this, it looks bad.

Now the other thing.

My little brother, C*, (not his real initial) was 2 years younger than me. He and I were close when we were little, playing with toys together every day, exploring outdoors for hours, playing with pets, building forts, having picnics, etc. I have some wonderful memories of us as young kids. C was my best buddy. He had some issues such as extreme shyness to the point of a speech impediment, social awkwardness, shoplifting when he was in sixth grade, stuff like that. Probably around the time I hit puberty, he started spying on me through the door of my room. My bedroom had been constructed quickly with my dad dividing one bedroom into two with some two-by-fours and plywood, so there was a slight gap between my door and the wall and the floor. You could see through the gap if you were right there in front of it. I became aware of being watched after I heard C playing with toys right outside my door. I went over to listen and looked down and saw the hair of his head down on the floor next to my door-gap, then he moved his head away quickly. I started to become aware of all the times he played with toys or was just outside my door on the stairs. I didn’t know what to do about it, I felt like this couldn’t be happening. I guess after denial and eventually becoming aware I just wanted to pretended it wasn’t happening. I basically would try to hide out of the line of sight in my bedroom and withdrew in to myself. There was shame and the feeling that I couldn’t say anything that would make it real. I didn’t want it to be real. I wanted it to go away, but it kept going on for a long, long time. I don't know if C knew that I knew. I would stick wire hangers with clothes inside the wall gap to cover the hole, but sometimes I would come into my room to see that they were knocked down. I’m not sure when but I also realized C would look through the key hole or be at the bathroom window outside the house when I took a shower at night. I got in the habit of always hanging a dry towel over the doorknob to block the key hole and getting undressed in the shower. I was ashamed that this was even happening but felt I couldn't do anything else.

I know that I told my parents about the spying on at least two occasions. First, there was a noise or something happened outside when I was in the bathroom that spurred me to say something. I came out and told my parents something like “I heard something outside the bathroom. I’m scared. I think someone is outside at the window. I think it might be C outside the window.” Nothing happened after that, no resolution that I remember. Nothing changed. My parents didn’t talk to me about it. I don’t know if they talked to C. I felt like, well, this is just what life is like for me, and went on. Every time I was in my room or the bathroom, I felt like I was being watched. To this day, I always feel like people are watching me through windows or openings. Probably C wasn’t spying on me a lot of the time, but I always felt like he or someone was watching.

The second time I told my parents was years later when I was 15 or 16. I woke up in the night because I heard something. I was scared. I realized C was in my room. He was crawling around on the floor next to my bed. I didn’t move and pretended to be asleep. I don’t know how much time passed but at some point he reached up over the bed and kind of touched my arm, then moved his hand to my breast. I jerked then and pretended to wake up and said “Who’s there? What’s going on?” and he must have left. I remember laying there terrified. I told my parents the next day that C was in my room last night and he scared me. They talked to him and sometime later told me that it wasn’t what I thought it was. Everything was okay. Mom said C was just curious about girls and was looking through some of my teen magazines that I kept on my shelves. I think my mom basically told me, It’s not what you think it was, we talked to him and everything is fine now.

All that time I never directly told C to stop, and I think now that I should have. I’m not sure how or if my parents really addressed the issue with C, but I think the spying pretty much stopped after that last incident. In my mind, it didn’t stop though. Things just went on the way they always had.

C and I never talked about any of this. I have mostly forgiven him and don’t want to hold this against him. He was a child and I think some things happened to him too. I just wish my parents would have been there for both of us and protected both of us. I have a lot of anger now, whereas before there was hopelessness and resignation.

There are other incidents, but these are the main things I struggle with. I’ve never told these stories in detail to anyone else. I'm finally getting ready to admit that this was something that happened to me and that I might need help. Has anyone else experienced something like this, especially the spying? It's hard to put that experience and feeling into words. I think it would help to know I'm not alone and what others have done about it. Thanks for listening.

Re: My story for the first time. Was I abused?

Posted: Sun Jun 23, 2019 2:06 am
by GrowingTree
Hi, in my experience if someone is questioning if they were abused or neglected they likely were. It is so hard to put a name on what a person grew up with as normal.I say this as I am sensitive right now and saw you indicated your post as a ST and I couldn't read through it at the moment.
Coming to terms with abuse and neglect and putting a name to it is excruciatingly hard. I believe you are walking in the right direction for you.

Re: My story for the first time. Was I abused?

Posted: Mon Jun 24, 2019 3:27 pm
by there
I read some of your post, and yes, the spying, as you describe it, plus the unwanted touching from your brother was sexual abuse. Please don't blame yourself for not telling him to stop.
The spanking Punishment and the slap from your father were physical abuse.

I've experienced something like this. It's hard to think the people who we're supposed to love you and who as much as they are capable of may love you would Hurt you.

It takes courage to write here what happened in your childhood.
People at isurvive do understand from our shared experience.

Re: My story for the first time. Was I abused?

Posted: Mon Jun 24, 2019 8:12 pm
by Calelake
Thank you GrowingTree and There for your responses. Not sure if I posted my story in the right place, but it felt good to tell it finally and to see your support.

Re: My story for the first time. Was I abused?

Posted: Mon Jun 24, 2019 11:39 pm
by there
You’re welcome, Calelake :)

Re: My story for the first time. Was I abused?

Posted: Sun Jul 28, 2019 8:31 pm
by EasyStreet
Hi Calelake,

In answer to your question, yes, I think you were abused. Hoping you can work through the new insights that may come your way. It has really changed the way I look at things.

Be well, and welcome.