How Sexual Abuse Affected My Mind: An Email from Katie M.
So my story is kind of complicated (as if others aren’t). When I was about 6 years old, I was continually molested by my brothers friend over the course of a month or so while my brother would be at band practice in our basement.
I had grown up with the effects of the trauma and had some very dark days, ultimately leading to being in an ok place with it around last year.
I started training to become a 24 hour hotline volunteer for a sexual assault survivor advocacy non profit in my town, and had to quit the training after a heavy day of discussing how to handle calls about child sexual abuse. It hadn’t occurred to me how young I really was when it happened to me, and I also hadn’t explored the idea of what could have happened if I had convinced my mom to report it.
Then, a few months later, I was hanging out with my brother (who is ten years older than me, and probably my best friend – we have an awesome healthy relationship) when he confessed that it was actually him that was my molester, and that when my mom was suspicious of me being hurt and asked him about it, he had blamed it on his friend. Being a young, impressionable child, I had completely taken on this version of the story as the truth.
That conversation was the hardest one I have ever had. My brother has struggled for years with alcohol and drug abuse, tearing our family apart, all because he was living with this horrendous guilt of what he had done to me and how he had negatively affected my life. I immediately forgave him because being a witness of his struggle over the years, I wholeheartedly believe that he had it much much worse living with that guilt than I had with just living with the trauma.
It feels odd to tell an incest story that has a happy ending, but it’s the truth. My brother is now 10 months sober and doing fantastic, and I’m at a relatively good place with the truth. We still have an awesome relationship, maybe even better than before. I feel safe with him, I feel like I can tell him anything, and I don’t hold it against him at all.
How it has affected my sexuality?
My sexuality has definitely been affected. I was incredibly promiscuous when I was a teacher that, without a doubt, was stemming from the abuse.
However, now, I haven’t been intimate in about 2 years, excluding one drunken hookup. My low libido was coming from my birth control, which I got off of after realizing the negative effects it had on me, but even after being off the medicine for 9 months, I feel the same way.
Porn disgusts me, and the few times I do get turned on it’s from a romantic intimacy scene in an obscure indie movie (that sounds so lame to write out.) Not wanting to have sex really doesn’t bother me. I know people that are asexual, and I wouldn’t have a problem potentially identifying as so, but as a 20 year old woman it’s tough to find a romantic partner that’s down with celibacy.
I can’t recall any uncomfortable fantasies. It could be safe to say that I’m sometimes attracted to men who look similar to my brother, but I feel like I’d be really digging to try to link the two.
My healing has been extremely circuitous. When I was a teenage I did a pretty rough job on my healing process by romanticizing my mental illness/abuse. There would be times where if I wanted to date someone who only saw me as someone who was down to fuck I would pull the “I guess this makes sense, being molested really screwed me up…” which I hate now. I hate that I put myself in that kind of light, and also sort of made my and everyone else’s experiences with sexual abuse a joke just to seem like the “mysterious damaged girl that liked sex.”
In the last episode where you interview Sarah Goodson and she talks about how she would get thrilled from sleeping with someone and being detached, and then having the other person want her, I completely relate to that, but it was a vicious cycle because, in reality, I cared a lot, but wanted to keep this image up of being an emotionally detached cool chick. It was really exhausting and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.
I think really over the past couple years, I have grown a lot and have done a lot of deep diving into what I’ve been feeling with my trauma, and so that has made it circuitous. Depression and anxiety doesn’t help that either. Something that I want to be able to do is be at a place in my recovery where I can share my experiences with others (preferably teenage girls because I think their emotions and feeling get written of as being a ditsy dramatic girl or having PMS – which is such bullshit) and help them understand the kind of guidance they can really benefit from, and how valid their experiences and emotions are. I know I have quite a ways to go, but as today goes, I am content with my life.