Abuse has been a part of my life for as long as I have memories. When I was very young, my stepfather (I will call him P) began his sexual abuse. I grew up with it so it seemed like a normal part of life, even though it made me feel terrible and I knew it was wrong. The worst part was the fear of getting caught in the act and what people would think if they knew what I was doing. To me it felt like a choice I had. I was making the wrong choice and was deeply ashamed of that. P wasn't hateful about it, he always made it seem like it was a choice for me. It was never such an easy choice, me made sure of that. I would always resist at first. Then he would whine and tell me that he would not ask me again if I did it "just one more time."
It was from P that I learned the most about sex. He would talk about it with me and describe different things that people do. I was given lessons in kissing technique as well as oral sex techniques. He told me that he would eventually have sex with me. He did not tell me when I would be the right age but I always knew that sooner or later he would take my virginity.
When my mother and P divorced I thought it was all over. However, I would visit him sometimes and he could never resist the chance to get me alone. After the first few times I had enough. He were alone in his trailer, in the middle of nowhere, when he started. I tried to just ignore him but he would not stop. Finally I got the courage to tell him no. I was so scared. We were alone and I had never flatly refused like that before. He left me there, alone. I do not know where he went or what he did while he was gone. I did not know what he would do when he got back. I hoped he would just leave me alone. He did not try again when he got back. I only saw him once or twice after that, and never alone.
For a long time I thought that was the end of it. I thought that I would just forget about it and it would be like a bad dream from which I had awakened, unharmed. I was naive then to think that it would not be a source of problems for me. I kept it mostly to myself. I never realized that my fear of boys stemmed from the abuse. I now know that these problems were related to the abuse. Naturally, I was interested in the opposite sex but boys scared me. Even boys I really liked were kept at a distance and usually when it came time for the first kiss, I was scared off. When I was in middle school there were a few boys who were interested but I ran them off. One of them wanted to be my boyfriend and we were together for a little while until he wanted to hold hands and kiss me. I dumped him a day or two later.
Finally, I had gotten over much of my fear of boys but now there was a new problem. The boys I was with wanted sex. One dumped me because I would not give it up. Another talked about it with his friends. When I found this out, I was humiliated and stopped seeing him. The solution I came up with was to just have sex and get it over with. Once I was not so scared to have sex, I started doing it all the time. I felt empowered and knew that I had found a way to get the attention I always wanted but never had. I was left feeling empty though, when the guys were finished with me. Mostly I did not talk to them afterward. One guy even went straight to tell his friends after dropping me off at home. Still, no one would pay much attention to me after it was over.
I had my first real boyfriend soon after this. He wanted to be with me, not just have his way with me. He was sensitive and thoughtful. Most of all, he loved me and wanted to be with me. We got married. This is when the real problems started. Like any man, he wants sex. After I had him, I did not want to do it any more. I had used sex to get the attention I craved. It was not a means of intimacy in my mind, it was simply a nuisance. Sex became an endless source of stress in our lives until I got help.
Counseling helped a little but I could not make myself open up. I got a book called "The Courage to Heal," and began to look online for others who were also survivors of sexual abuse. I found many personal websites by women who understood what I was going through. Connecting with others helped me realize that I was not alone. It also upset me to learn how prevalent sexual abuse really is. It is a topic that is shrouded in silence. Victims do not like to talk about it because of fear or shame. Some victims are seen as liars, others feel guilty for the part they played in their own abuse, or for not making it stop. I wanted to become one of the brave women I read about. I wanted to be a survivor.
With a lot of hard work and my husband's endless patience, I have worked through the worst of my issues with sex. I will never be completely comforable with certain things but I have learned much about tolerance and what it means to be a survivor. Survivors do not get over their abuse. The memories will always be with me. Triggers will still bring about flashbacks from time to time. Even still I have dissociative episodes but I have learned to embrace these moments. As unhealthy as it would seem, it is a coping mechanism and I do not believe that it is such a bad thing in stressful situations.
To any girl who may be living with sexual abuse, I urge you to get help. Tell a parent, teacher, or trusted adult. It is not your fault. Do not assume that no one will believe you. Try not to worry about what will happen to your family, especially if your abuser is a family member. You deserve to be safe and happy and you will suffer more if you allow the abuse to continue. Respect yourself, love yourself, and realize that you do not deserve this.
If you are a survivor of sexual abuse and you have problems relating to the abuse, find a counselor qualified to work with abuse survivors. A professional will help you to understand and conquer the mixed feelings you have about yourself, your body, and sex. Many survivors of sexual abuse have sexual dysfunctions. Learn to deal with triggers properly and do not be afraid of your feelings, good or bad. My hope is that other women can find within themselves the power to embrace their feelings, trust in others, and mend their broken hearts to become whole once again.