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Will I always be a victim?
I’ve wanted to write this article for some time now, however, hesitated always, but now I’m feeling strong and the time is right.
I feel my disastrous therapies which pretty much ruined my life; throwing me into a depressive nightmare. A five-year therapy run ended in 1999, however, I still continued in the throes of mental illness, living in and out of hospitals and institutions and experiencing the redundant effects of ECT. The childhood sexual abuse issue that consumed me throughout therapy, was put to rest after ending it and discussed only occasionally since then. Lately though, I have been asking myself, “WILL I ALWAYS BE A VICTIM”?
Short of going into a lengthy, detailed article of my specific abuse; I was sexually abused at aged six by a neighbor for just about two years. My father was a travelling salesman and my mother enjoyed bingo a couple of nights per week, leaving my brother and me with our next door neighbor, we called “Uncle Fred”. The worst part of these childhood recollections are not of the abuse, although nightmarish and painful, rather that of the way my parents handled the situation.
The nights of sexual terror became more recurrent and I could cling on to this “secret” no longer; ultimately breaking down and “telling”. My parents confronted him, which of course he denied any wrong doing. Confusion and distrust entered my head, when ordered to apologize for causing trouble.
So, on a sweltering, hot afternoon, I walked next door to “UF” house. Standing there unaccompanied, frightened, bewildered, yet furious, I behaved like the noble little girl - rapped lightly on the back door. “UF” came to the door and watched as I stood there respectfully stating “I’m sorry for the trouble that I caused”. His response was “that’s ok we all make mistakes”. Those words make me vomit to this day. They also make me well up with tears.
I recognize in my heart I am not the victim, but occasionally I just feel like the victim and I don’t want this bastard or my parents to win in this. My mother never likes to have a discussion about this (question why), and proceeds to change the subject if I ever venture into ‘troubled waters’. Typically she says rather “the past is the past”. Though that is correct, however, someone who has not experienced abuse, PTSD – in the form of parental physical or mental abuse, childhood sexual/physical abuse, rape, is in my opinion, hardly a judge of the intensity and degree of severity that can impair functioning in a person’s existence.
If only we might roll back time. Meet head-on the people who shattered the parts and pieces of our lives, and as a fantasy; see how they would like the tables turned. How would their life be dissimilar, would they be in therapy, would they perhaps lost relationships, or lost careers, landed in hospitals, and would they be a strong as us. I judge not. Would they then ask themselves why they were so gutless, self-centered, so insecure, and so mean-spirited, negligent….I could go on.
My life changed greatly due to abuse. Sexual abuse has wrecked havoc during my entire teen -adult life. I have an on/off relationship with my mother (father is deceased), but the memories still remain, and like salt in a wound, they still sting.
Writing this though, has been cathartic. I WILL NOT BE A VICTIM. This is just not worth it. I had to pull myself up by the bootstraps to get where I am now – working full-time again and not living in and out of hospitals; not under a veil of blackness – and I am not going to let go of this. Forget it. It still makes me ‘gulp’ though, I become vulnerable and sometimes at a moment’s notice I flip towards feeling like a victim. Wow this is a toughie.
Debbie named her blog Living in Stigma because she faces stigma with her own mental illness (depression). She works in a large office, and feels unable to breathe a word, for how she will be treated. The goal of her blog is to educate and hopefully make people aware of mental illness stigma and help put an end to it.
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