0

Child Abuse Awareness Month

April is child abuse awareness month. I don’t need to say in what ways I was abused, because in all reality, it doesn’t matter. I was abused. End of story. The details are for me to disclose when I want to, not for you to decide if I really was abused or not or if my parents “meant well”. I lived there. You didn’t. I am discussing various types of abuse here, so you might be able to figure stuff out based on this and previous blog posts. That’s okay. But I’m trying to keep this particular post vague in order to help people relate.

That said, here is a handy dandy list of NOT helpful things to say to me! Note, this may be different for other child abuse survivors. This is helpful to ME.

DO NOT SAY:

“Well, I was spanked and I turned out fine. Why aren’t you fine?” You didn’t live my life. Spanking is a very controversial topic, and I request that on this specific post you don’t debate it. I did not turn out fine. End of story. Don’t say that to this child abuse survivor, mmkay? (Seriously, do NOT turn this into a spanking debate. That is a firm boundary. I have a very strong opinion on it and others do, too. DO. NOT. DEBATE. THAT. HERE. AT. ALL. Any comments on Facebook about it will be swiftly deleted.)

“Oh, I’m sure it wasn’t that bad.” It was. You didn’t live it. The end.

“I’m sure your parents LOVE you!” They sure did a crappy job of proving it. Doesn’t help to hear that when I have PTSD.

“Well, my parents did XYZ to me, too, and I don’t have PTSD.” That’s nice. I do. I’m glad you had a different childhood than I did (seriously! that isn’t snarky!) but I have PTSD as a result of mine. It isn’t helpful for me to hear “well, I don’t have PTSD” because then my brain warps into bad places and it just isn’t good.

“Don’t you think they meant well?” Sure. Maybe they did. Maybe they didn’t. Doesn’t matter. I was abused.

“But all parents love their children.” Nope.

“They had their own “mental illnesses”. I have an alphabet soup of mental health bullcrap. I don’t abuse people. NEXT.

“That was over twenty years ago that XYZ happened. Why aren’t you over it?” Didn’t know my trauma had a deadline.

“I’m sorry that happened to you.” This is one I’m iffy on. I prefer the wording “I’m sorry someone did that to you” because it takes all the internalized blame off myself. Saying “that happened” makes it sound like it was something out of someone’s control. Someone had control. It wasn’t me. Someone did it to me. It didn’t just “happen”.

“Well, at least emotional abuse doesn’t leave scars.” I have no polite words for that one. And I’m trying to keep this post PG rated to make it more shareable. But… you know the whole “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?” I believe that’s bullcrap. I also believe there is no form of abuse without an emotional counterpart because of how abuse plays with your very mind and innermost thoughts. So, there IS no ‘just’ emotional abuse. Emotional abuse is the very core OF abuse.

“Did you ask you ask them why they treated you that way?” Um, no? And get abused further? I was hurt once. Their side of the story? Yeah, they lost their right to that when they chose to abuse me. They don’t get to tell their story.

“Put yourself in their shoes.” No, wear our shoes. WHY do we only challenge people to wear the abusers shoes, but not the victim’s shoes? Ask yourself this question. Seriously, why? Why is it never “walk in the child’s shoes”?

“I don’t know how you turned out so normal.” Well, okay? Normal is only a video game difficulty setting… I’ve jokingly said it, but things I say in jest and things people say to me are two different things. I wince so hard at this one.

“But you denied xyz abuse for years! YOU’RE LYING!” No, I was trying to protect my abusers. It’s pretty common. I have psych records saying that even though I denied it, it was strongly suspected. But that shouldn’t even matter.

I am a child abuse survivor.

Do not say these things to me.

0

And the very fear that makes you want to die, ends up the same as what keeps you alive

I have made it no secret that I was a victim of child abuse.  (Each link is a different post, for the record. Feels weird linking myself, but I’m not writing everything back out) And it sucks. There’s no easy way to say it. It sucks. And it’s defined so much of who I am.

I’ve read people say that they wish they were the person they were before their abuse. They grieve that person. But it’s not something I can do. I don’t know who I was before I was abused. I don’t know who I could have been. Would I still be a feisty, smartass Hufflepuff? Would I still be loyal and protective of my friends? Part of me thinks the hell I lived through is what made me want to protect others so much (and now I am thinking of Kingdom Hearts…cuz my friends are my power, so I protect them blah blah blah)

While part of me wishes to all hell I hadn’t been abused, would I be a voice for abused children if I hadn’t? Would I be trying like hell to make a difference? I don’t know. And that’s so complicated. The same thing that makes me suicidal, the same thing that haunts my memories… my nightmares, my flashbacks… is my same fighting force. The same thing that  propels me and keeps me going. The same thing that is my lifeblood. It’s keeping me alive and making me want to die all in one. And it’s such a weird feeling.

All at once, what haunts me is what fuels me. What holds me back is what propels me forward. And that’s just how it is going to be.

Quote
0

Summer has come and passed
The innocent can never last
Wake me up when September ends

I remember 11 years ago, being a doe-eyed senior in high school. The world was my oyster and all that cliche shit. I was still relatively healthy by my not-optimal standards. I was in honors classes (my school called them “college prep”. We had regular, college prep, and AP. Had I been public school all four years, I would have been an AP student but that’s not my point).

That September, almost every morning on the bus I heard Wake Me Up When September Ends, which I now associate with senior year. September is a difficult month. Everything started falling apart. September is difficult. Please be gentle with me. Know that my blog posts may be more raw and vulnerable. Know that I may be more cynical and snappy.

But please be there for me. Thanks.

-Nora

Image
2

Abuse is abuse 

As a disabled, autistic person the odds were staggeringly high for me to be a victim of abuse. I am the one in five. I have been physically, sexually, emotionally, and spiritually abused. It is just how it is. I’m finally safe, at age twenty nine. 

Many of my friends have also been abused. And I’ve heard so many of them say that because I’ve been abused “more” or because they’ve “only” been emotionally abused, it wasn’t that bad. Here’s the thing: there is no just for abuse. Abuse is abuse. Full stop. End of story. 

It’s easy for us to say things weren’t so bad. It’s easy for us to say that our abusd was deserved. I know that time after time, I’ve told myself. God, there are still nights where I tell myself that. That I deserved it. But it’s simply not true. 

I bet none of my friends who say they were “just” emotionally abused would turn and say it to a friend. There would tell them their experiences are real and valid. But yet it’s so much harder when it comes to ourselves. 

I’ve been emotionally and verbally abused by my former PCA. 

I was abused in all kinds of ways from my family of origin. 

I’ve been spiritually abused by the church. 

Each one led to my PTSD. Wanna know something? I got the PTSD dx based solely on my emotional abuse history. Before I told anyone about the other stuff. While I suspect I actually have complex PTSD, that is another story. 

If you have been abused, you have been abused. There is no only. There is no just. You were abused. You didn’t deserve it. Nothing you did could have made a difference. It is on them – your abusers. Not you. 

If you were abused, in any way, you are allowed to say so. You are permitted to have feelings. It’s okay to say that you had a traumatic upbringing. Because there is no just when it comes to abuse. 

1

to my father 

To my father,

No one really tell you how to grieve an estranged parent. No one tells you what it’s like when the man who is half the reason you’re alive is dead, but you hadn’t spoken to him for nine years prior. 

Your death was sudden. You were dead for several days before I knew. My exact response was more or less “well, that happened.” For the graveside memorial, I was asked to share my favorite memory of you. I decided that it likely wasn’t best to respond with “the phone call that you kicked the bucket.” I was reminded of the time in tenth grade when I was getting testing done – I was asked to name just one good thing about my dad. I gave him a blank look. I couldn’t. I couldn’t come up with one good thing. 
There are few people the world is better without. Like Anne Frank, I truly believe there is good in everyone. But I can’t find the good in my father. Not when after I moved 750 miles away, I had you banned from my college campus. Not when I was an adult and safe, I lived in fear of you finding my phone number. His death ended those worries…but they still exist. It’s illogical. You’re dead. You’re gone. 

But it’s 6:30 am and I’m awake because I can’t sleep. I’m awake because my mind is plagued of memories of all the stuff you did. I lied for years. I hid the abuse for years. I didn’t tell anyone what you did for me for literally decades. Even though my medical records state that even though I denied those forms of abuse, it was suspected. 

Some days I think there isn’t one good thing about you. But then I remember. 

“Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City to take back the child you have stolen, for my will is as strong as yours and my kingdom as great. You have no power over me!” Labyrinth 

I’m alive (cue “Unbreakable, they alive dammit, it’s a miracle”). I will rise above. You may have torn me down. You may have beat me. You may have raped me. But I’m alive and you are not. I still have time to make something of my life. You have lost the chance.
You lost the chance to see who I became. I became a loyal and compassionate Hufflepuff. I became a fiesty and sarcastic cynic. I’m still an introvert. I never graduated college. But I became an advocate and an activist. I’m becoming the person I needed when I was little. 

Your death sealed the end of our relationship. It’s over. Done. It never was and it is finalized. You are gone. 

Now if only I can convince my brain of what I just wrote. If only I can believe it in my heart. I know I will someday. I just hope someday comes soon. Because, you have no power over me. I have my strong will. I have my friends. I soared over the obstacles. 

Goodbye. 

Your daughter no longer. 

0

Blast to the Past

So, I am currently sorting through old documents. It’s fun. I found a paper I wrote back in 2007 and I was caught off guard that I was this open and this vulnerable with a professor. I can assure you it wouldn’t happen today. But yet… it’s a perfect glimpse into who I was at the time.

So. Free reign of a journal topic, eh? Don’t you realize this is a dangerous thing to put in the hands of *full name*? I feel like I should insert an evil cackle here. Something sinister. But alas, I shall go on and ramble about something that likely has no importance. Not that is out of the ordinary, mind you. Anyway. Back on topic (like I had a topic to begin with!). I am annoyed with my father today. I know, this is a rather personal topic, but I need to get it off my chest. So I guess this is my chance to rant and whine, eh? (I’m sounding rather Canadian today. Blame it on spending 3 weeks in school in Windsor, Ontario). My father is… a bunch of words I cannot say in this paper. There are no nice words to describe him. He… I don’t even know how to put it. His last email sent me off the wall. He was saying crap like how I was his “best friend” (bullhockey), and how much he loved me. I hate his mind games. He treats you like crap, putting you down (this is the man who told me I wouldn’t make it in college!), and then turns around and says he loves you. Drives. Me. Batty. I finally got up the galls to tell him exactly what I thought of him, and man it felt good! Of course, I was polite. No use getting nasty back, eh? I told him I was no longer his punching bag. I would no longer allow his to push me around. Of course, he hasn’t emailed me back yet. Which means one of two things. Either he hasn’t made it to the library to read it yet (he’s not allowed to have a computer in his home – long story which isn’t fit for this journal entry), or I’ve royally ticked him off. I’m assuming the latter. Not like I care. He’s ticked me off enough times, and I’ve finally reached the final straw.  No more pushing Angelique around, no sir! I’ve had enough of his crap. In fact, I think I shall write a poem in his honour:

Sunshine and daises, butterflies and roses

Standing in church, striking our poses

Acting like all is fine and swell;

Ignoring the fact we’re living in hell

Your words wound the depths of my heart

Because of you, I’m falling apart

I reach out my hand, longing for your touch

You push me away, I’m asking too much

I’m your puppet, a victim of your game

Each day it goes on, each day it’s the same

You only care about one person – you

Not caring about what others are going through

I have learnt that you don’t matter at all

There’s others to pick me up when I fall

I have broke free of the past, free of the chains

Taken back control, grasping the reigns

I’m no longer the person you forced me to be

Time has passed on; and I’m finally free

That’s not the best of my poems, not by a longshot. But.. It’s jut something I had to get off my chest. I have far better poems, that one kind of… well, it sucks. But that’s okay. Anyway.  I do love my father, don’t get me wrong. But in the same way…. I hate him. Is that possible? To love someone so much that you hate him? To hate someone so much that you love him? Am I even making sense? I don’t know. All I know is I’m finally free of his sick mind games and cruel ways of being. I’m no longer his victim, a player in his game. He is finally out of my life (until he answers the next email, and these last few emails will likely be the last contact I ever have with me), and I am finally starting to achieve happiness.

0

What’s on my mind?

Facebook asks me what’s on my mind. It’s kinda creepy, really. It also always thinks I’m at target or out getting waffle fries. Which neither are inaccurate if we are being totally truthful. 

But the problem is? I don’t know how to say what’s on my mind. 

But Nora!

You’re such an eloquent writer. But Nora! Just type or say the thing. 

That’s the problem. 

I can’t. 

You see, the word are trapped. The emotions are trapped. The feelings are trapped. 

It’s like alphabet soup and just a bunch of letters swirling around. Sometimes I can scoop out a random word but it isn’t very helpful or relevant. 

I have so many secrets. Oh, everyone has secrets

But this is stuff I’ve not told everyone. 

Stuff I’ve not even dared write out. Because I’m scared to be faced with it. 

It can’t be that bad. 

Well no, but it’s not that good either. 

It’s trapped. I want to speak the words. To type the words. To free myself from the words. But I don’t know how. I’m stuck. I’m trapped. And I’m scared. 

I don’t like feeling like this. The words. The thoughts. The feelings are terrifying. I want it out. I so badly want to be free of this hell I’ve been trapped in for decades. 

But yet. 

I smile. 

I laugh. 

I joke. 

I act like the good person I know I have to be. 

I have been told how smart and capable and resilient I am. 

And so I stay trapped in my head. 

Locked in my own body. 

And it’s terrifying. 

I mean. 

I’ve written out what happened before. My childhood. My past. Some of it. 

But there’s so much more.

A few eyes have seen it. 

But not many. 

And I’m scared. 

I’m terrified.

I have so many thoughts that are still trapped. So much stuff I haven’t dealt with. 

So many nightmares. So many flashbacks. 

And I want to move forward. 

I want things to change. 

But they can’t. 

Because the words are trapped and I can’t pull them out. 

I’m just not smart enough to fix this one.  

0

I am the 1 in 4

I usually don’t trigger warn, but this needs it, my friends. Child abuse, sexual abuse. I am utterly fucking terrified to hit submit. I am utterly afraid to post this. I kept quiet for years. I didn’t speak for years. I denied it for years. But it’s time to speak out. Perhaps this will bring healing. Perhaps this will bring peace. Perhaps I will regret posting this. It’s time to be vulnerable and it’s time to no longer be silent.

 

 

Continue reading

0

I’d prefer the sticks and stones.

 

Image: Background with butterflies says "sticks and stones may break my  bones, but words will break my heart."

Image: Background with butterflies says “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will break my heart.”

 

 

How many times as a kid, did we chant “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?” What bullshit. It’s 100% not true. Words hurt. Words sting. Words cause trauma. Words carry a stigma and words can cut into your soul like daggers.

I am a victim of emotional abuse. Emotional abuse is very real. Emotional abuse  hurts and is just a real as physical, sexual, or any other form of abuse. For me, emotional abuse was the worst form. Why? People often don’t believe it’s real. They believe that my father sexually abused me. They believe that he physically hurt me. But so often, they don’t believe the words.

But it’s his voice I hear in my head at night.
It’s him telling me I’m stupid. I’m dumb. I’m never enough. I’ll never graduate college.

It’s the emotional abuse from my PCA that haunts me. Being told I’m lazy. That I just need to believe more. That if I just tried harder, I could do it.

This is emotional abuse.

I always had my basic needs met, but it doesn’t mean I wasn’t neglected. My father never told me he loved me. My father told me that if I didn’t stop crying, he’d give me something to cry about. My father told me all sorts of horrible things. Were they true? Fuck no. But when you hear those horrid words, day in and day out, you internalize them. They become a part of you. And you slowly start to believe it.

You know, logically, that it’s not true. That you’re not stupid. That you’re beautiful. That you are worthy of love and acceptance. But because it isn’t what you were told, you wrestle with it. Any type of compliment? You’re waiting for the “yet…” “but..” “we’ll see.”

This is the affect emotional abuse has.

It’s taking your voice. Literally.

You’re afraid to speak.

Because what if it happens again?

You’re afraid to breathe.

Because what if it happens again?

You learn things, you know.

You learn to stay silent.

You learn the right scripts. The right words. You learn what to say and you learn how to shut yourself inside yourself. You learn how to cope, but not how to live. You learn how to survive, but not how to thrive.

This is emotional abuse.

0

My dad was an asshole, but then he died.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that my feelings are okay. That it is okay to feel angry, upset, grief, happiness, and everything all in once.

Just because he is dead, does not mean it is wrong for me to speak ill of him.

Just because he is dead, does not mean that I have to pretend that everything was peachy keen when he was alive.

Because that’s not the truth. It’s dangerous to have that mindset.

Now that he’s dead, I’m free.

It’s okay on this father’s day if you hate your dad. If you love him. Or fuck, even both.

It’s okay if you don’t want to call him.

It’s okay if you don’t want to send a card or get him a present.

It’s okay.

It’s okay if you long more than anything to be a father but you cannot or are not for whatever reason.

It’s okay.

Your feelings are still valid.

Your feelings are yours and yours alone.

Don’t let anyone tell you that they’r not okay or you have to do this or that or you’re a “bad daughter” or “bad son” or “bad child”. You aren’t.

And that’s okay.