Sometimes our posts can act like triggers to other bloggers. If you are already on a “therapeutic pathway”, this might not necessarily be a bad thing. A fellow-blogger friend, Rising Song, has been grappling with something she read on my blog. A word she used today acted like a trigger for something that is at the back of my own mind.
The word is “Accomplice”. Rising Song and I seem to be on very similar journey’s, but I’ll let you read her experiences for yourself.
When we are children experiencing sexual abuse, there is silence. As grown adults, it is easy to question why we never did tell someone. However, a child’s perception of the situation is confused – we can either believe it happens to every other child, or fear that no one will believe us, anyway. Of course, a very cunning abuser reinforces all these self-doubts during his grooming tactics.
If the sexual abuse continues into our adolescence, many of us start to feel partially responsible. It is almost as if we become accomplices to our own abuse.
I grew up believing that I had not been a victim of sexual abuse. It is difficult to remember exactly what I did think beyond considering myself an accomplice to “sexual games”.
The abuse always happened with a neighbour and also involved my childhood friend, Stewart. He was 3 years older. It all ended three years later, when I was 8 and Stewart, 11. We both moved house and that was the last we would meet for another 18 years.
Many years later, I found myself talking about my experiences to a Social Worker friend who worked in Child Protection. She looked at me with some confusion and made a statement that was more a question
“But, you do know that what you went through IS sexual abuse”?
It took weeks and many more conversations before I could actually say, “I was sexually abused”.
As if by some weird coincidence, within weeks, I bumped into my childhood friend, Stewart. We had not seen each other for 18 years but still recognised our eyes and smile. At one time, we were like brothers.
We went for a drink and I decide to broach the subject about our sexual abuse. Nothing could have prepared me for Stewart’s traumatic and haunting memories of exactly the same situation.
Turns out, those experiences had been a source of great trauma for Stewart throughout his entire life. He was now a recovering alcoholic and blamed the sexual abuse for a large part of his drinking.
We shared the things we remembered the most. Each memory could have been mistaken for being entirely different experiences.
His shame was much greater than mine was. Before we parted, he asked me to promise him one thing. For some reason, those words and the look in his eyes will haunt me forever.
“If you ever tell anyone what happened to us – police, social workers, your parent’s, absolutely anyone – PLEASE tell them that I was NOT there”.
It took a few more years and some soul-searching to realise the detrimental effect this sexual abuse had on my own innocent life, but that is for another post…
You’ve described precisely how I feel about my adolescent years. I felt like I should have known better by then, and that whatever happened at that point was because I allowed him. I know that this is not true (because I have been told innumerable times), but believing it is taking a great amount of work.
My hear aches for both you and your friend. The promise that he asked of you cuts like a knife…but of course, sexual abuse is shameful and humiliating.
I realise that you do feel like this. I thought of you all the way through writing that post. I was in a similar position with my second abuser “I should have known better”. However, as we both agree, we were the vulnerable youngsters and they took advantage.
I’m so sorry this happened. I’m glad you are realising you are not to blame. X
Thank you Borderlion
For many years especially in my teens I wanted to ask my neighbour K who is the same age as me ‘what she remembered about the day I was sexually assaulted’ K witnessed what happened as we both innocently played out in the backstreet on our bikes one day after school. For years as well as having a major crush on K, I was jealous of her being so perfect in everything she did… school, looks, church stuff. I questioned would she have been so perfect if she had been the victim and NOT me… K now to me has the perfect life, happily married with two kids and a good career and even now after all that therapy… I still find myself jealous!
No two people experience a situation exactly the same, especially when it comes to childhood abuse. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m always very grateful