Photography: RJ Photography
Please note that this blog post discusses sexual abuse, some readers may find this triggering or upsetting. For support on anything mentioned in this post, please visit: https://www.mind.org.uk/
Writing this post, I’m reminded of a piece I wrote a little while ago about having sex and children after being raped or sexually abused (http://www.imnotdisordered.co.uk/2017/10/the-big-awkward-chat-sex-rape-sexual.html). I talked about how when I’d struggled with this area of my life there’d been nowhere to turn because it seemed that no one on the internet was discussing it. This is something that I hope epitomises I’m NOT Disordered; in that people can turn to it for issues that they feel completely alone in. Sometimes, a lack of information on subjects like these are mistaken as a sign that it is a taboo issue; something to be ashamed of experiencing and embarrassed to talk about. And this is wrong. Nine times out of ten if you can’t find an issue online that you’re experiencing it’s because no one has had the courage to speak up about it and not, that no one else is experiencing it. It goes in a cycle because it is through making this assumption that no one is speaking out.
When I was first abused I remember feeling like a was on a fairground ride, my thoughts we are whirling around inside my head, crashing into one another; fighting for space and attention. Fighting for the right to be heard. Demanding to be felt.
WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED TO ME???!??!!!!
Where did that come from?!!!?!!??
Did he really just do that?!!!?
What happens now?!!
Do I tell someone? Is he right? Will no one believe me?!
Of course, they won't! Everyone thinks he shits roses!
WHAT THE HELL????!!?
I think that the clearest, and obvious feeling towards your abuser is anger. Of course, abuse can happen in many different scenarios – like mental health, it doesn’t discriminate – and your emotions might often reflect on these situations; for example, you might battle feelings of anger if this person is someone you care about e.g. a family member or friend. But I think that no matter the age, the relationship to the abuser… There’s always anger.
And no doubt people are reading this thinking ‘and why the hell wouldn’t you be angry?’
Personally, I struggled with the fact that he (my abuser) was telling me that this was my punishment. For all the things that I had done wrong, white lies I’d told, poor behaviour in school and constant detentions…I’d earned this. So, I wondered how could I have the right to be angry when I had brought it on myself? In a way, the anger became directed at myself; feeling that I was the only person who could take any blame for this situation. He wasn’t at fault. In fact, he was doing the right thing in punishing me!
My mind fought the natural urge to hate him. Everything he said brought on a whole new wave of anger. Everything he did was a fresh reason to be angry.
Having been a child during my childhood, unlike a lot of teenagers these days, I’d only just had my first kiss and he took another ‘first’ without me even knowing. Without me even knowing what it was called. I had no idea what the words were for what was happening to me and if I was confused about this then how could I possibly know how I felt? How can you differentiate feelings when you can’t understand their cause? How can you say what you should and shouldn’t, be feeling?
The greatest confusion around my abuse was in trying to describe our relationship. This person was well respected, admired, and in a position of authority; so, it wasn’t a stranger. I’d trusted this man.
In the past, when I’ve tried to talk about this, I’ve had people jump the gun and say, “you were in a relationship?!” And I thought ‘no;’ but when two people interact there’s a relationship there – and it can be good or bad. It’s still a relationship. I also once had a professional ask if I wouldn’t talk about what had happened because I feared being judged for liking my abuser. Did I love him?
It’s so hard to explain that there was no love there, but at the same time… there wasn’t just hate and anger. There was this one time when I found out that a family relative was dying from something that he had caused to happen to himself and for some reasons I went along to see my abuser. I voluntarily went to see him – is that something, in its’ self, different to hate? So, I asked him if he believed in God and if he thought that this relative of mine would go to heaven. He told me that there were people in other countries starving, dying every second and I shouldn’t be concerned about a relative who’d “inflicted his death upon himself.” And there’s that hatred.
There was more than sexual abuse.
More than rape.
Of course, there was more than one emotion.