This is a very painful subject for me, something I really don’t like to talk about. However, since the month of April is childhood abuse month, I figured I would tell a small part of my life story. I was sexually abused from age 3 until age 7. I continued to act out sexually on a nearly a daily basis until I entered recovery at age 33. It took me three years of recovery and therapy to finally admit that I was sexually abused as a child. Because of the circumstances, I was in complete denial about my abuse and my abuser.
The reason I was in denial is because the girl that abused me was just a little older than me, maybe 6 months or a year. When my family moved away from our home country to a university setting in the United States, I didn’t know many children that spoke my native tongue. She did and it was a relief that I could speak to her and she could speak to me and we could understand one another. I was around 3 years old at this time. I don’t remember all of the details of our relationship, but a few points do stand out. I recall the time we hid from our parents (her idea) and we snuck into the university swimming pool that was located about 2 miles from our apartment complex. Apparently our parents called the police and everyone was looking for us while we enjoyed ourselves at the pool. I don’t recall what occurred when we came home but knowing my parents, it wasn’t good.
I trusted this girl a lot, so when she decided we should play sexual games together, I went along with her. I do recall the words to this day she spoke to me in my native tongue stating, “don’t tell your parents.” I didn’t tell my parents, not until 30+ years later when I entered recovery. Even then, I minimized the fact she abused me for 4 years, I was still in denial. Amazing how I always thought my parents suspected something but when I asked them about it, they said they never knew. She and I were together almost every day and the sexual activities were basically based on what she wanted to do to me, with me, and with other boys at the apartment complex. I don’t know where she learned all these things, but I suspect her older siblings or parents had something to do with it, perhaps with pornography and or an extremely liberal stance on human sexuality. I may never know the answers, nor do I wish to pursue them.
I do know that this sexual abuse and what I thought was “love” has affected the rest of my life up until I entered recovery. I believed this girl loved me, that she and I would be together forever. Why else would she want to do sexual things with me? Allowing her violate me sexually was the way I showed her that I too loved her. As an adult, I repeated this same love = sex behavior thousands of times. For a majority of my life, I had the belief that being sexual with a woman meant I loved her and she loved me. A woman who wanted to be sexual with me, who initiated sex with me, who pursued me sexually was a woman that loved me: this is what I believed for 30+ years. This idea was ingrained in me by my abuser, an idea I still struggle with on occasions. I’m not attempting to minimize by saying that it could have been worse, I could have been abused by an adult, but in actuality, the fact that it was another child, masked the abuse, keeping me living in denial for so long and in turn pursuing a false sense of love. The abuse was not traumatic, it was what I used to consider consensual; I believed it was because I enjoyed it. As an adult, I reenacted various things we did together, with other women, ultimately believing I was fulfilling some great fantasy locked within the depths of my mind. The saying “follow your fantasy and you’ll find your wound” makes perfect sense to me now.
I don’t like the fact that I was sexually abused. When I finally broke through the denial, with the help of my therapist, I was a complete mess. However, it allowed for God to begin healing this wound that I had held onto for so long. Being labeled a victim of childhood sexual abuse was not pleasant, it made me feel dirty, it made me feel like I was worse than I really am. One of my friends in recovery let me know that I am no different today (the day I finally acknowledged it as sexual abuse) than I was yesterday (when I was “just” a recovering sex addict). This helped me tremendously. Breaking through the stigma of dirtiness and brokenness was difficult but necessary. I still struggle with negative intrusive thoughts about the abuse and being unwanted or being broken. However, I have come to understand that feeling “unwanted” is just a lie and also, God can’t fix me if I’m not broken….