I am in charge of my own destiny and my own life
Hi, my name is Danielle, and I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Yes, you’ve heard right, I am a survivor. It has taken me a long time to admit to myself that I am/was a victim and am now a survivor of sexual abuse. And yet it has taken me even longer to admit to others, outside immediate family members, that I was a victim and a survivor. It has only been within the past few years that I have realized that there are others that have gone through the same unfortunate misfortune like myself.
I am a typical story of childhood sexual abuse. Typical, meaning it was someone I knew all of my life, someone I was close to, someone I trusted, and someone I looked up to. It was my father’s brother, who was also my godfather, and he was about 10 years older than me.
My uncle sexually molested me for over two years before my mother found out. It all started when I was about 7 years old, and ended when I was about 9 years old. Unfortunately, I was young enough to have been influenced, and was not aware for two years, that I was being molested. Fortunately, no cloths were removed, and no penetration occurred during the two years I was being molested. I was being felt up and was forced to ride my uncle’s privates, kissing and hair caressing was all part of the act. My uncle had a game name for what he was doing. He called it “horsey”. It was always the same intensity, and was always a private affair between the two of us. Although it was unusual that it only occurred while we were alone, it seemed all the more normal. The ideology of my uncle was that “this was what is done to show we love each other”. And it was our own little secret.
It was only after my mom walked in one night, while my uncle was in the act of molesting me, when things started to fall apart for me. It was then that I found out that what my uncle was doing was morally wrong. Due to the fact that my uncle’s permanent residence was in New York, and my uncle was caught in the act in our summer home in Pennsylvania, the police were unable to arrest and prosecute him. The end result was that my uncle was to attend counseling and there was an order of protection against him.
For years, there was tension within the family. When my grandfather found out what my uncle was doing to me, my grandfather beat the daylights out of my uncle. A few months after, it was Thanksgiving time. My grandmother asked if my uncle could come for Thanksgiving Dinner. When my mother said “No Way”, there was a near brawl between my mother and grandmother. My grandmother then blamed me, stating that it was all my fault, that I provoked my uncle.
For years, I had attended counseling. I blamed myself for what my uncle did to me. I blamed myself for not questioning if what was happening was right or wrong. I believed that what was happening was because I asked for it. After all, my uncle’s mother blamed me. I always asked myself, “Was she right?”
I bottled the memory up, and never spoke of it again, until my grandfather died. I had no choice in having to be in the same room as my uncle for the first time since my mom walked in on us eight years earlier. I was petrified. I was afraid of the confrontation, not knowing if he was going to make a scene. I was afraid if he was going to try to become abusive again. Fortunately, we stayed at opposite ends of the room, and no confrontations occurred. But I felt like the outcast.
It took me a long time to trust men again. But, as I get older, I’ve realized that not all men are abusers. I’ve also come to realize, after hearing stories, and after doing my research, that I’m not alone. Although it was a subject that was mute when I was growing up, and not much in help and support was available then. There is much more information available now, much more support available and much more openness about communicating about sexual abuse. Although we cannot change what has been done to us, we can help educate others in being survivors instead of being a victim.
Unfortunately, in the mid 1980’s, when I was abused, not much in support was available. I realize that I am in charge of my own destiny and my own life now. I am going on with my life successfully. And I am a stronger person now too.