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I am now a mother of two and have a husband who wants to help me be all that I can be.
I was molested by my grandfather when I was nine, I don't know for how long. I only started to remember what happened when I was 16 or so, and I knew it was true but sometimes I feel like I am crazy and must have made it up because how can you not remember and then remember. I felt no one understood me and found it difficult to form good friendships because I would never tell anyone what happened to me.
He would pretend he was reading to me each night, or he would come into the bathroom when I was having a bath. He would lie. The first time I realized that something was not quite right was when I had a friend over, and he was helping us get up onto the top bunk bed. He put his hand on my crotch and I felt embarrassed. I think he even did it to my friend too.
I stopped going over there so much then and didn't ever sleep over. I never told my parents. I was embarrassed and worried that they would not believe me. I hated visiting him. My parents would always say, "Give your grandfather a cuddle." I would hug him and whisper "I hate you" in his ear. When I was 18 he got really sick and died. I watched him die a painful death and felt that he deserved it. I had thought about writing a letter and delivering it to his grave. I dreamt of it often.
The first person that I ever told about the abuse was a boyfriend, and he didn't know what to say. But what do you say at 18 years old? The relationship did not last long, and I blamed myself and thought he didn't love me because of what had happened to me, and that I was dirty or unlovable.
I developed techniques for coping and would ignore anything bad, and just think that things were good even if they were not. I built quite a shell around myself to keep people out. I fell in love and married my current husband. He loved me no matter what happened to me. I used to cry during and after sex because the memories would just come flooding back.
I still struggle with what happened and how I cope with it. I put on a lot of weight over the years and was depressed about it. My son was shaken by a teacher at his school, and I didn't cope very well with that. I blamed myself for teaching him to be a victim like me. That was the way I saw it. I never shared how I was feeling with anyone else. Now that I have a daughter, I find that I am very worried for her. Not that I want to wrap her in cotton wool.
I am now struggling with myself in the sense of, "Am I important? Why did this happen?" I know others have suffered much worse things. My family is suffering because I am not coping. I have started to lose some weight and have been to a session on how to cope with childhood abuse as an adult. I do not want to continue to let it change me into someone that I do not want to be. I would love to be proud of me, and I want my love to be proud of me. My husband can not cope with me or the way that I behave as it is usually quite irrational. I don't know if I can cope either. My children are keeping me going, because I believe that they need their mum. And my husband needs his wife--the one he deserves--one that can support him and be an individual.
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello Elizabeth, and thank you so much for sharing your story on this site. Others will benefit from what you've written, and from my response. You are helping others by helping yourself.
Every victim of childhood sexual abuse experiences shame. The words of shame are, "There's something wrong with me. I'm bad. I'm dirty. It's my fault." This is a mistake in the child victim's mind, because as a child you didn't know how to hold your grandfather accountable, and so you automatically (as all children do) blamed yourself at some level.
You may not have thought about this, but your parents (unintentionally) made things worse, by encouraging you to hug him, and by not protecting you from him. If your relationship with your parents had been better, for example, you would have told them, and they would have protected you from him. This is something for you to think about, because it will be involved in part of your healing. You might want to write them a letter (that you will not send), telling them that you were an innocent child and that it was their job to protect you. If you don't feel ready to do this, it's because you need to do other emotional healing first. This is not about blaming your parents, it is just about correcting the mistake in your own mind that made you think the abuse was because of you.
It is good that you avoided your grandfather, and that you stood up to him by saying, "I hate you" in his ear. This was your little warrior spirit trying to protect you. That is very good.
You are a survivor, Elizabeth. You are strong and healthy in ways you are not aware of. I know you don't feel that way, but I can see that it's true from what you've written. And by the way, what happened to you was not your fault. You were an innocent child, and a member of your family took advantage of your innocence and violated you. All of the blame and responsibility rests with him--you have no responsibility for what happened at all.
It sounds to me like you're really ready to heal. If that is true, then you will be willing to do the exercises I'm going to recommend here. Trust yourself in this process, and take things as slow as you need to. Be persistent, but don't try to force yourself.
Here are some steps to follow:
1) Write a detailed account of everything that happened with your grandfather. This is for nobody's eyes but yours, so don't worry about that. Write about everything that happened and how you felt. This is an essential step.
2) Also write about other traumatic events in your life that are not related to your grandfather. This has been found to be a very healing process, and it will help you.
3) As you do the above steps, you may find a lot of emotion coming up. Let them out. Cry when you need to, deep and loud and long. You have to grieve the loss of your beautiful innocence as a child.
4) To help you with the emotional healing, use the imagery process on this page. This is the most important and powerful help I can offer you, Elizabeth. If you use these techniques, you will be able to heal the emotional trauma of what happened to you, and reach all of your goals.
5) The journaling process is so important to your healing. This page describes the different exercises, and I highly recommend you do them all.
You can do this, Elizabeth. There is a part of you that was never touched by this abuse or any abuse. That is where your healing comes from, and it is your true nature, that connects with the Creator.
Keep writing or ask more questions, if you like. Also let us know how you're progressing with your healing.
My very best to you, Elizabeth.
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