No matter what, the abuse was not your fault. It’s never too late to start healing from this experience.
What are the effects of child sexual abuse for adults?
If you experienced sexual abuse as a child, you may encounter a range of short- and long-term effects that many survivors face. Adult survivors of child sexual abuse may have some of the following concerns that are specific to their experience:
- Guilt, shame, and blame. You might feel guilty about not having been able to stop the abuse, or even blame yourself if you experienced physical pleasure. It is important for you to understand that it was the person that hurt you that should be held accountable—not you.
- Self-esteem. You may struggle with low self-esteem, which can be a result of the negative messages you received from your abuser(s), and from having your personal safety violated or ignored. Low self-esteem can affect many different areas of your life such as your relationships, your career, and even your health.
- Intimacy and relationships. It’s possible that your first experiences with sex came as a result of sexual abuse. As an adult, intimacy might be a struggle at times. Some survivors experience flashbacks or painful memories while engaging in sexual activity, even though it is consensual and on their own terms. Survivors may also struggle to set boundaries that help them feel safe in relationships.
This info. can be found on http://www.rainn.org (rape, abuse, and incest national network)
From my personal experience, it’s hard not to blame yourself. As an adult, I keep wondering why I didn’t do anything to stop him from touching me. I should have done a lot of things different. When I start to think this way, I think about what my grandma, Mary used to say. “Everything happens for a reason”. So what would the reason be? For a long time, it taught me not to trust anyone. I still have walls around me that I don’t think I will ever take down. So, let’s go through the lasting effects.
Guilt, Shame, and Blame- Obviously, I blame myself. I am working on recreating Janice and part of that is letting go of blame. I didn’t enjoy any part of it and to think that anyone would is confusing to me. The person who should be held accountable never was. I never had the courage to ask why. I was scared and too angry. I highly recommend trying EMDR (eye movement desensitization reprocessing) for anyone having trouble moving past a memory. Also brainspotting really helps too.
Self-Esteem- This is a big one for me. When I was younger, someone told me often that I was “an ugly little girl” and a “lunatic like my Mom”. First of all my Mom is not a lunatic. We all have issues in life and we all deal with them differently. So hearing how ugly I was so often made me start believing that. I didn’t have friends growing up. I was quiet and shy. I thought that nobody liked me. I created people in my mind to have with me so that I had people to talk to. These imaginary people didn’t judge me and loved me unconditionally when nobody else did. Kind of funny, at one time I remember that I thought I had a group of 99 angels as my imaginary friends. Now, why I needed more than 1, I’m not sure lol. So, that was childhood, but then I started junior high at a new school. This is when I moved in with my mom and her husband. She taught me how to wear make up and fix my hair. I met a boy who was kind to me. He was very attractive and has a kind heart. We dated for a while and he made me feel like I was pretty and smart. He is still a good friend of mine and I am very thankful that he helped me turn my thoughts about myself around. The next guy I dated was older than me. At age 14, I lost my virginity. I didn’t care about or respect myself and I was far too young to make such an adult decision. I was lonely and thought he would leave me if I didn’t. I started drinking, experimenting with drugs, having sex, lying, and stealing. I look back now and wish I had made different choices. I wasn’t a bad person, but the choices I was making were bad. I have read research that says that when we experience molestation as a child, we often develop insomnia, depression, and high levels of anxiety. The anxiety can result in self-destructive behaviors such as alcoholism, drug abuse, anxiety attacks, and anxiety disorders as well as behaving in a promiscuous manner. A.k.a. my high school days. I’m not proud of the reputation I had and I’m sure many people still judge me based on the way I acted. At least now, I can learn why I acted out. I have many scars on the inside. Each scar is a symbol of something I overcame and survived. I do still struggle with my self-esteem. I don’t feel pretty. I don’t feel healthy. However, I do feel like I am changing toward feeling that way. I have a plant based vegan diet and I’m starting to exercise daily. I recently started counseling. The counselor asked me last week to think of the person I want to be. I want to be healthy on the inside and out. I don’t want to be the person who holds everything inside so that nobody gets embarrassed about how my life was. I need to talk or blog about this so I can get it out. If I keep holding it in, I will never heal. My goal is not to point fingers at people or blame anyone for my life. As my grandma said, “Everything happens for a reason”.
Intimacy and relationships-I often find myself thinking that I am bad at relationships. I know that I’m not easy to live with. I have high expectations. I want someone who will love me unconditionally, compliment me, and always be there for me. The problem is that when I found someone who did these things, I pushed them away out of fear. When my husband tells me he loves me, I think why would he? or that’s not true. When he or anyone else compliments me, I think they are just being nice or saying what they think I want to hear. When my husband or family try to be there for me, I push them away. The good part of this is, I’m able to write these blogs which help me, even if I’m just taking baby steps. I have many relationships that I need to repair. Again, I am working on me so I can be a better mom, a better wife, a better friend and most of all a better Janice.