Tia's Story

Where to begin? Well, the first round of abuse started when one of my neighbor's sons took an interest in the little girl next door - me. It all began when I was about two. He was a fair bit older and classified as "weird" at high school and had no friends. It all began at first with him getting me to kiss him. Then it went into fondling and finally penetration. This finally ended when I was eight, although between six and eight I hadn't seen him much.

I have nightmares and flashbacks often. But the most painful part is that my mother knew when it began. It somehow got around our small town and people asked her about it, but she always denied it. One day she caught him making me touch him. She waited til he was done with me, and when I went in the house, she belted me. Then she made me have a scalding bath. And sent me to bed.

After that ended, life was fine for a while. I had a lot of problems that should have alerted people. Bedwetting, nightmares, knowledge I should never have had at that age.

When I was 11 and 12 I was sexually abused by a member of my own family. He was 15 and then 16 and should never have touched me. While he was assaulting me one time I screamed through my tears "why are you doing this?" He replied that I was "tighter than the girls at school". I look back on that now and think how incredibly wrong he was, given my childhood.

My father was an alcoholic wife and child beater, with his first wife anyway. She died and he married my mother who wouldn't take it. So, he ended up having a nervous breakdown. I've spent my time since I was 13 scared of him. He is a suicidal person. Manic depressive. All his guns had to be taken off him, and he is perpetually abusive. Firstly, he was never there for me until I was 13 as he was out drinking. And then he became violent. Now he is given to mood swings. My mother is still with him, but I avoid going home when possible.

Next, when I was 16 I was desperate for love. There was a man, he was incredibly violent, but I had this mad idea I could find the nice person within. So when we started going out, I was afraid of him but assured myself things would get better. It didn't. We were only together for a matter of three months. But in that time he beat me regularly.

I am now in my early twenties. It has taken me six months of solid counselling to come to terms with what has happened to me. I know now that I was not to blame. But it was so hard to accept that. When some of what is happening to you feels pleasant, and when you are told you are to blame, and that if you tell, you'll be given up for adoption, you'll be hated, and when you are being beaten in front of your friend's and beg them to help you, and they turn their backs...you soon realize how alone you really are.

However, I am past that. I now know that I am innocent of causing any of what happened to me. I am a strong young woman. I no longer allow people to walk all over me. I'll never be the woman I could have been, instead, I am the woman I am. A survivor. I don't sit and wonder how I'd be different if it had never happened. It did. And I can never change that. But I draw positives from it. I am strong. I am capable. I do not rely on others. I don't just blindly trust people. Every smile, every laugh, every happy moment, every personal triumph is a kick in the face to those people.

I did one day confront my family member. We were in the kitchen of my parent's house. He tried to corner me and I grabbed a knife and told him if he ever tried to lay another finger on me, I would kill him. And every member of the family will know. Only my mother and brother know. But if he ever touched me again, I'd scream it from the roof tops.

I have forgiven my mother for not stepping in, she had her own ghosts in the past to deal with and it triggered her and she had no idea what to do. All I know is that were I to have children and anyone lay a finger on them, they would not live to do it again.

That is my story. In closing all I can say is that you have to just keep living. Often that is the hardest part. The flashbacks can be controlled to a degree. They do scare you, but you do eventually get past them. Maybe I'll never forget, I don't expect to. But I am at the point when I don't have to think of myself as a survivor called Jenn. I am me first, and then a lot of things, and last of all, a survivor. When it is not the foremost thing on your mind, you know that you are beating it.

To live, be happy, to have friends, and to love, those are the things that you must do to not let them beat you. To be and do all the things they say you can never do is justice to me.

Please e-mail Tia at jmgamble@edison.dialix.com.au.

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