I think one of the hardest parts of being a survivor of any or all the horrific and traumatic abuse I endured is the fact that most of the people that I share my story with rarely believe me. Sure, they give me the usual head nod, “omg” … but then it just turns into a sarcastic disbelief. Most times they say they believe you 100%, but soon you find out they thought you had to be making it up all along. Then, to top off calling me a liar in so many words – they say something else so infuriating; “Well, it couldn’t have been that bad – look at you now..” Oh, so because I found resilience and strength it is no longer possible to have gone through any or all of it? How is that fair? And then because I am living my life the best I can – although I am still struggling every day – just because I am not in jail, a junkie or worse then someone can not imagine how that is possible… sometimes they say that they could never survive an ounce of what I had to bare. In which I always respond – it is incredible what our bodies and soul can actually heal from, and I am forever blessed to have been given the balls to do so.
Oh, so you don’t believe me?
I have 8 large boxes that are full of my life story – provided by the Ministry of Children and Families, and then all the extra research that was done by my lawyer who took on my case against the Ministry. It is full of doctors reports, social worker notes/reports, court documents, police incidents and so much more that took place in my life dating back to when I was nearly six months old. Those files are so important to me because of the fact that they provide solid tangible proof of my history. Regardless of what anyone thinks – I have proof. Regardless of what ever I may tell myself sometimes – I know that I can go into my closet and pull out my files and see for my own eyes that it was all true. And, regardless of what anybody thinks there is a reason I continue to talk about what happened.
I did survive it…it was not ever just a sad story I would share to get sympathy or attention. Or as my mother has been telling me and anyone else that will let it slip through her lips that I have been lying all this time just so I could get put into the system in order to get “things”. She says I wanted toys, new clothes and all the things I must have seen other people get. So I came up with this elaborate story to be able to find a parent who would buy me things.
I guess one question I have for her story – and so many others who think I am flat out liar; how the fuck does a 6 year old know about sex? Sorry for the anger in my tone…but really… Do you know a six year old fluent in blow job techniques? How did I end up with so many bruises, lacerations, rips and tares that were shown in pictures and doctor exam forms? Did I make those up? All for toys?? All for a fucking haircut??
I know this is an old issue, and at my age why should it matter what people believe or not. However recently it came up in a very real painful way and it’s left me feeling freshly wounded, raw and angry even. Let me explain…
A few months ago I was in the middle of an argument between my husband and his Aunt. It was a silly argument, but at the time it was very heated. During this argument I said that she was flat out lying about something she had JUST said moments before – which is when she blurted out that I was a liar too. I said tell me what I lie about, because I knew there was nothing I had ever said to this women that was a lie. This is when she said it. Her next statement to me would rip open every half healed trauma that lived in my body, soul and mind. And she was so sure of herself…smug even.
She said, “We all know you lied about what happened to you in your childhood, we know that couldn’t have happened to you!”
After being a part of this family for nearly 17 years, I can honestly say her statement shocked me to my core. I felt like the whole world just dropped all around me, that I was left standing there all by myself. I could hear my husband asking her how she could say such a thing, after all we had been through. I heard him bringing up the fact that I had been to court, been on the news – evidence heard and seen to prove I was not lying… Yes, I thought. Exactly. How could she say such a hurtful and cruel blanket statement like that?
Truth is … she still has no idea how painful her words were to me. I know they are just words. But I thought they knew me, really knew me. My husbands family are incredibly important to me. And I can honestly say I thought they believed in me, and my story. It was a different kind of heartbreak for me this time. And the aftermath of the fight just solidified how I feel about myself and my role in my “family”.
Unfortunately, I responded poorly to my aunt-in-law after her comment to me. I called her a fucking bitch. And, even though she tried to take back her comment once she saw how much destruction it ultimately caused, the damage was done. And, even worse – once the rest of the family heard of the fight, it was clear they only heard that I had called our Aunt a fucking bitch. Her damaging words seemed to go unnoticed besides for my husband and myself. Sure, a couple members said they understood how upset I would be, but then I was told several times over that they couldn’t and or wouldn’t get themselves involved. I was even told that because I was not real family, not blood family – that they would not be able to stick up for me either. Another stab in my heart. Not that they could see that. All they wanted from me was to kiss and make up with her so the “family” could get back to normal. But for me, nothing was ever going to be the same – even with some kiss and make up bullshit. I now knew what they really thought of me. It made me feel kinda foolish having so much faith in their faith in me.
The thing is I have evidence. I have photos, police reports, social worker notes, court documents – even video. But, it’s not enough. Mostly because ignorant people rarely want to be educated about what they believe they know about. My in laws don’t want me to talk about my past or my struggles. They tell me to forget about it, don’t talk about it – it only makes it worse they say. I say, no it only makes it uncomfortable for them. People would rather not hear about it, not know the truths – stay ignorant in their safe bubbles. People like myself make them uncomfortable. So – they call me a liar. They whisper among themselves instead of talking to the one person that could clear up any questions they may have. I have always been an open book – but rarely am I picked up and truly read and understood.
So this question of believing or not believing is a very sensitive one. I ask – what is it that I have said that would make you not believe me? Usually it’s just that it’s so unbelievable one could treat another human being so poorly, especially one they love, or a child. Of course, it’s that I apparently look like I have all my shit together – so it’s couldn’t have been that bad..right? I ask, what gain do I get from sharing these stories? Clearly I don’t get pity, or money or sympathy. I’ll tell you why.
I share my stories because that helps me heal. Simple. If I am quiet, and secretive about my struggles then they become too hard to manage. My past eats away at my soul when I stuff them down. But, when I am able to talk about it I am free’d of shame, disbelief and guilt. When I share my really scary stuff – the shame is taken off of me and put where it truly belongs; on the abuser. It helps me feel less alone, less crazy, less afraid to talk about it. Talking about it can remind me of how far I have come. It can sometimes me feel a sense of pride and accomplishment to share my story, that feeling of “see I did it, I survived when no one thought it possible!” I have to say too…just because it was years ago doesn’t mean it’s over. It’s never truly over. I am still having flashbacks, anxiety, and depression. The scars I carry on the inside also spill over to the outside of my body, and seeing those can sometimes send me into a PTSD downward spiral. It seems impossible, but some memories come as though I was remembering them for the very first time.
I also share my life stories because I know it helps others who may have gone through the same or similar experiences themselves. Those who are not able to talk about it, or are afraid to talk about it. Those who have been told like myself to be silent. Those who hold all that shame inside when they should never feel one ounce of it – I tell them my story as to support them to unleash that burden. When people ask me how I have survived, how I have ultimately flourished even – I tell them “I talk, I talk and talk and talk… ” When I talk about it I am healing myself. I know it hurts sometimes to talk about it, but in the end it makes me stronger. It allows me to be bigger than all that horror. I want the same for others, I want people too feel OK, even brave for sharing their stories. As they should be. Even writing this blog I feel better, I feel proud. I feel like if even one person gets it – I am on the right track, I am fulfilling my purpose. I didn’t survive all that horror just to keep quiet and fit in where I can. It’s impossible. The moment you can no longer hear me is the moment I have let myself give up, and I wont.
I will not allow the fact that people refuse to listen or believe me change the belief I have that knowledge is power. The more people that know exactly what has and or is still happening in our world will help others to escape from it, or survive it. They will see the signs they need to see in order to help others. They will know that even when it seems to unbelievable – it’s not. It takes courage to share your story, especially the unbelievable ones. Be courageous and brave. Most of all have yourself be heard! Keep talking – I know I will.