What I want you to know about surviving sexual abuse

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest posts is by an anonymous reader.



I am currently 25 years old and for the first time in my life am starting to deal with the sexual abuse that happened to me as a child. I was in 6th and 7th grades and was abused by both my older brother and an older cousin on 3 different occasions. What I want you to know is this: it has deeply affected every aspect of my functioning life and right now, I can’t think of God as good.

I want you to know that I deeply desire to trust people but I can’t. I deeply desire to be loved and enjoyed and protected by my friends and family but the second anyone gets too close I retreat or push them away. I want you to know I am lonely. Sometimes I feel like a cowering puppy in a pound. Staying close to the back of the cage, refusing to come to the front for fear of the people who come near. The shame seems paralyzing at times.

Everything appears fine on the outside until people get too close. I have lots of friends right now. I do something social almost every night of the week and suffer severe anxiety if I have a single night at home, alone with my thoughts. But it’s getting to that point now, people are getting too close, my friendships too intimate. They question why I seem to always have conflict with them or why I am so sensitive to change or why anything that threatens my emotional security sends me into fight or flight mode. I wish people understood how deeply scarred I am and that I just can’t find it in me to trust right now. I only began to understand two weeks ago though that the root issue of my abandonment fears, eating disorder, and anxiety is the sexual abuse that I had actively avoided thinking about and suppressed for 13 years. Now I can't stop the flashbacks and part of me wishes I could stuff all the memories back down where they belong.

My behavior makes sense to me now and I am hopeful for healing because I desperately want to have healthy friendships. But wrapping my head around the next steps seems impossible. Accepting that God is good and sovereign over my abuse at the same time seems impossible. Forgiving my abusers and accepting that it wasn’t my fault seems impossible. Repenting of my rebellion towards God and general self-glorifying shame and contempt seems downright wrong.

I want to tell my current group of friends how much I need their support but that seems impossible too. I want you to know that if you know someone who has been sexually abused as a child it took so much courage for him or her to tell you. Love them, support them, and don’t abandon them when it’s a long and messy process toward healing. I want you to know how encouraging it would be if someone I told educated themselves on how to support me and then stuck around. I don’t expect people to be perfect or not let me down but right now I feel like I am drowning and could really use the proper support of caring friends.

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