There are many unfortunate, sad and difficult consequences left for a victim for the rest of their lives after a traumatic event. I know from my experience I was able to find moments of peace…though far and few in between – with little time to work through the trauma that my parents had started exposing me to as early as when I was still in the womb. I was forced to face a string of various types of abuse ranging from but not limiting it to; physical, sexual, spiritual, neglect – and the perpetrators were the hands of the people with a duty to keep me safe, protect me – someone that I was supposed to trust. I can not remember a time in my life that I was NOT afraid, or time that I felt totally and completely safe. That reality is heartbreaking .
I have to imagine that even from the womb I have had a fairly intense level of fear running through my little body…afraid of the unforeseen strikes coming my way. Sometimes it was the things my parents would yell at me that could leave bigger bruises than a whole day of whips, strikes, and blows to my body. Those words have left invisible catastrophic scarring. My mother told me stories of when she was pregnant with me and my father would beat her belly with his belt – buckle end hitting her baby bump. Shit, I probably didn’t know what I was more afraid of; staying in there – or coming out!
My mother also shared her opinions of what she thought of me from the moment I was born often throughout my childhood. “You were ugly honestly, and we really didn’t want you, your father really didn’t want you…he hated girls.” I would always ask her why he hated girls, what was it that made us so horrible in his eyes. Why did he think we were such bad girls? She would never have an answer for me. She was usually quite flippant about it, acting as though she was just caught off guard for a moment… My mom was the queen of manipulation. “Oh, I don’t know… who knows Carrie.” My mom did know why my father hated girls and women in general. She would rather we believed he was just evil, and a sick man. However eventually truth seeps out of the cracks. So, years later as an adult I wanted to learn more about my fathers upbringing and the more I did learn – it was very easy to understand where his anger was coming from. You see, my father lived in fear for his entire life as well. It was all he knew. Soon it was all our whole family knew.
I can’t imagine that even to this day, that either my mother, brother or sister feel safe. I don’t. The terrorizing anxiety and fear that lives inside me is the worst symptom of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) I face every single day. It is not unusual for me to afraid in my own home, car or work place. I am most afraid of course when I am alone. I hate closed windows, drawn curtains, dark rooms, and hedges that cover a home. It reminds me of things my parents made sure existed in our lives. They made sure we were afraid of them, always. There was ALWAYS a consequence, there was no room for error or stupidity as he called it on our parts. And most importantly, it was stressed that we needed to keep our family matters private at all times – my Mom or Dad would say “So Carrie, that means you shut your fucking big mouth! You understand me?” We were never to talk about what happened behind our doors.
So my dad would try to seal the sounds of screams in with those little tricks…and now I can’t have the windows closed, or drapes drawn…and don’t even think of having a large tree or hedges surrounding our home! Most of my husbands family think I am crazy to have everything always wide open – where everyone can see me. “That’s the point.” I would say. Exactly. I am always trying to be sure it’s at least possible to have someone see me if I was being hurt – and this time save me.
I think about this scenario practically daily really. I feel better in numbers. I like crowds, I like downtown… I don’t like being in my home alone. I am almost always incredibly scared, and I know realistically I am more than safe. But, I don’t believe that. I know better. I know better than to ever think I am safe. I know not to start feeling sure I won’t ever have to face unspeakable hurt again. Too me, that is just baiting the devil to come show off one more time with me. I am so afraid I will not have the resilience and strength to live through another attack again. And now, that I have been blessed with three beautiful, innocent children that fear has only been escalated too massive proportions.
The very thought of my kids having to live like I did makes me feel sick to my stomach. I never really thought of it this way before the kids, for some reason I was able to compartmentalize the stories from the actual realization of how horrible it really was for us young children. Now I can see for myself how innocent, tiny and helpless we really were. As a child I really felt like I was at fault – I had obviously been so out of control, so ungrateful, spoiled… I felt that I had pushed them into hitting me, hurting me… Most of my abusers had me sure that it was my fault that they were sexually attracted to me. That even as young as six – I was just slutty. I was the one that brought the bad, dirty and wrong doings from these individuals. There was something in me bringing out the evil in them, causing them to hurt me.
There was a court hearing once that involved one of my foster fathers; Wayne Haydamack where he was being charged with historical sexual abuse. One of his arguments about why Wayne may have been sexually inappropriate with me – IF – he did – it was simply because I was teasing him, flirting, and seducing him into it. He was a victim of my seductive ways. This makes me fucking sick each and every time I think about it. Even if I was displaying sexual behaviors towards him – that is NEVER ok or normal. I have too feel sick when I think of how I was so comfortable being taken advantage of that young. I remember too that although I found it terrifying each and every time – I also found it too be a normal part of my life, like one of my duties of growing up. I remember how awful it made me feel too, how dirty I thought I was, and how incredibly afraid I really was.
There is not a day that goes by that I don’t have flashbacks or get triggered by a smell or sound that takes me right back into those moments that still cause me to be afraid. I don’t have many memories of restful sleeps, or being able to close my eyes and feel my body completely relax…and just letting go … Usually I am trying to shut my brain down from all the scared thoughts I am having; can anyone get in? Are my kids safe? What if someone tried to take them? I find myself sometimes going through the entire scenario, getting myself all worked up thinking of the worst things possible – I fight hard to leave those thoughts and fall asleep. I think of when I was a young child, how strangers would come into my bedrooms while I was asleep and hurt me. Ripping me from my dreams – leaving me in a nightmare for the rest of my life.
Each and every abuser that took liberty with my body in unspeakable and disgusting ways; ultimately took a piece of my innocence with them when they finished. They all had a part in making me be so afraid and unsure of myself and my worth. They all hurt me in different degrees – but still leaving me with a lifetime of fear, anxiety, and an ongoing battle with self-loathing and self-worth. No matter how many times I can tell myself that it was not my fault – some shit has a hard time sticking. The fact that I felt responsible and dirty for being apart of it is something my abusers were counting on. They groomed me, some more than others.
I have to believe a huge source of my fear comes from the fact that I have dozens of my abusers out there, free to roam the world, free to hurt again. I am afraid of running into any of them. I am very afraid of my immediate family; especially my mother and brother. I have seen their form of evil and I am sure I have not seen the last of it. My brother grew up to be a convicted rapist and murderer. My brother is free now – having served his time fully. He is on the sex offender registry, but is not required to report to a parole officer. On one the reports I received from the Prison staff before his release after serving ten years for the murder stated that he was at a high risk to reoffend. There was also a note in the report that my brother had made a statement of how much he hated me, and if he were to see me again he would slit my neck from ear to ear. I am afraid of my brother. I have a very clear memory of my brothers eyes, they were always empty – scary. He had the same smiling eyes when he was hurting me or an animal sometimes when we were younger. My dad worked hard making him tough. He inevitably made his son a killer and a man that like his father – had a special hate for women.
You know, I am mostly afraid this feeling is really never going to ease up. I am so tired from being in that constant state of acute awareness to all the bad in the world. I wish I didn’t know that it was real and that it always is lurking and waiting for it’s opportunity to take advantage and hurt me or someone I love. I do though. I am really clear that the monsters that most people are afraid of look nothing like a monster at all. They are blending into our communities, developing relationships with us – earning our trust so that we will let our guards down and forget to be afraid just long enough that they can hurt us again. it s a terrifying reality that I worry, fear and at times unreasonably obsess over every day of my life.
People see me as tough. They say that I am so strong and resilient, and that they believe I can survive anything. And with each tragedy or trauma I have survived it seems they feel their points have been proven. I’m fine. Its over, it’s all in the past. They sometimes try to push me towards just forgetting everything – telling me that if I just let it all go I will be better. I agree with one thing. That “event of trauma” may be over – but that’s about all that makes any sense too me because there is no magical let it go button. I don’t try to think about it each day – it is like someone slamming a pie in my face out of no where when the memories come. more like a smack in the face. A lot of my wounds may have years of skin regrowth, scars have faded – years and years have passed – but my mind and or body can’t forget it sometimes. I still have pain, physical and psychological… emotional pain.
I can still hear the hardwired messages of disgust, hatred, and disappointment that I heard throughout my childhood. And, I am still fear the bad monsters will come back into my room one night and try taking another piece of my soul – testing my strength and ability to stay a good person. So far – regardless of what has come against me – I am still here, working on it…but for now I live with fear every single day of my life only hoping something will ease up in my subconscious and let me be in that paralyzing reality less and less as time goes by.