FGV personal story
I don’t just write about vegan overeating.
I sometimes write about broader themes and subjects. Today finds me doing just that.
Please note that this blog post contains references to sexual abuse.
Why do abuse survivors take so long to come forward?
Why do they change their story?
Doesn’t this mean they can’t be trusted?
I was abused. My father beat me. Laughed at me. Ridiculed me. All from the age of… well, my earliest memory of my father is him calling me cruel names. He terrorised my siblings. He withheld food. He dished out corporal punishment with wooden spoons. Cords of electrical appliances. Fishing rods. He beat my stepmother. He punched her in her face, with all his strength, in front of me. He made us lie to relatives. Friends. Family. This continued until I was old enough not to return. Maybe 14 years old.
In my other main dwelling, there was sexual abuse. I was instructed to lie about it. I was told by my mother that I had to make a choice whether we allowed the abuser to stay living with us. I was told if I asked him to leave, we would be forced to return to living in a tent on the beach which my mother and I had done for many years due to poverty. I was maybe 11 or 12 when this choice was asked of me. I was forced to visit my violent biological father every second weekend even though I protested that he beat me, but I was also asked to not tell him about the sexual abuser in my other home in order to not get that man into trouble.
My school insisted my parents take me to see a child mental health specialist to help determine why my grades were failing so drastically and why I would rather go drinking with older people than attend school regularly. I wasn’t even 15. Maybe even just 14 at best. My parents told me to lie to the mental health professionals and not disclose my knowledge of the sexual abuse in our house. They told me if I did, I would be responsible for our family being torn apart, for the abuser going to prison.
I left school on my 15th birthday, moved out of home, and starting working full-time to support myself. I was an easy target for older men in my local area. I desperately wanted validation from adults as all of my parents had failed me, so I would go with older men for sex. I was coerced into unsafe sexual situations, sometimes with groups of men aged in their 40, 50s, and 60s. I was sexually assaulted. I was physically assaulted by gay and straight identifying men for being too much of a ‘faggot’. I was drinking entire bottles of hard spirits or cheap wine multiple times a week as a form of self medication.
Everything you have just read happened to me before I was even 18 years old. I am now 44 years old and only discovering the strength to talk publicly about this. Yes, I covered for abusers. No, I didn’t report being sexually assaulted to police. For decades.
The sense of responsibility, shame, and self loathing I have lived with has been overwhelming. It has shaped my life in ways you cannot imagine. Or sadly, maybe if you are a survivor you can imagine. I learned to hide all personal matters as though they were dirty secrets that would get me in trouble. I thought of myself as undeserving of basic daily care and longterm medical treatment. I trained myself to work hard to protect other people and animals as an antidote for not practising self care at all.
The compounded trauma of what I have lived through is the reason why my story changed over the years. And why I ‘lied’ about not being abused. And why I ‘failed’ to report my own sexual assault to police. But now I am telling the truth.
It has just taken an extremely long time to find the strength and the words. Be kind to people who have found the strength to speak about their own survival. It is often the most difficult thing a person will have to do in their life.