My mind is blank.
I want to write, to share, to tell my story.
So why is my mind not responding?
Breathe, I tell myself, breathe.
Your brain is not responding because the moment you begin to think about this, your body shuts down. Your brain feels the need to protect you and so it closes off all channels, all emotions, all feeling.
You think it’s happening now. But it’s not. You’re safe. You are safe now. It’s ok. You are safe. That was then. You survived. This is now. You need to tell your story.
Say it. Just write. Ok.I was a child. He wasn’t that much older than me. We were a large family, more girls than boys. I don’t remember when or how it started. But somehow it became the norm. In middle of the night, I’d be awakened. Awakened to heavy breath, sweaty hands all over me. Fear would overcome me. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know why he was doing this. All I could think was, be still. Don’t move. If you move he might get angry. He’ll hurt you. I would hold my breath, and keep my eyes closed. When he was done with me he’d tiptoe out carefully. I had no idea what was happening. Sometimes he’d bribe me, trading my self worth for a pack of gum. Sometimes it was in broad daylight, he’d take me up to his room, lock the door, and pull down his pants. I’d stare at that metal lock and will it to open. But it would stay locked.
Years passed, we moved. New houses, new friends, new neighbors, new school. But one thing didn’t change. Every night I’d lie awake in bed, wondering if tonight would be a quiet one. Stretching my ears listening for the slightest sound of footsteps. Whether or not he would show up, I’d spend the night in fear.
And then one night, I decided I’d had enough. This had to stop. I was in middle of pretending to sleep while he was on top of me, all over me. I stood up really fast and ran out the door, down the hall, and burst into my parents room. My mother sat up. I frantically started mustering up the courage, and told myself all kinds of things. Say it. Tell on him. He’s doing something wrong. Tell mommy. She can protect you. Just tell her…
“Ma….. He’s in my room. He’s touching me.”
There, I said it. It’s been years. Years of holding it in. And I finally said it.
I look at my mother to see her reaction. It’s not what I expected.
“Oh he’s just copying (insert older brothers name) who did this to him and your older sisters. I’m getting him help. Just go back to your room, he’ll be out soon.”
Numbly, I walked back to my room. I see him crouching in the corner, hiding. I pretend to not notice. I climb back into bed. Pretend to fall asleep. Hardly a minute passes by. His hands are once again cold, pressed against my bare skin. My brain swirls in terror. My heart beats at a dangerous speed. My soul screams out in silence. I want to die.
I am a victim of sexual abuse. I was molested as a child by my brother for years. As I learned later so were many of my friends.
I am also a victim of misguided parenting and education.
I look back as an adult, and it’s so clear to me. Clear what my parents should have done. What my teachers should have looked out for. What my principals should have picked up on. Instead, I was the bad one. I was the troublemaker. I was a rebel. I was “at risk”. My questions and actions should have been a symptom of deeper pain. But instead I was labeled “deep thinker”, “thinks too much”, “can’t conform”, “can’t follow rules”. And eventually I became that “off the derech kid, hangs out with boys, does drugs, does whatever she wants”.
Today I am a healthy functioning adult. I’m constantly building a connection with HaShem. I’m a part of a religious community. I still don’t “conform” to their misguided ideas. But I stand strong, as I am, amongst them. I have to constantly face triggers and flashbacks, and i am in therapy. I stand up as a survivor of abuse, and I feel the pain of everyone out there who’s been through similar. I share my story, because as I read articles on JCW I realized that as much as it hurts, it helps the healing process. I felt better through my tears as I read others’ stories. So here’s mine. At least part of it. And here’s to one day when there will be no more pain.
Thank you JCW for making such a big difference in my life and the lives of many others. God bless you.
This article was shared anonymously with JCW.
To send us your story for publication, email [email protected]
Please note: Survivors should only write their story, whether submitting it anonymously or revealing their name—–if they are certain they have an adequate support system in place. An adequate support system would include an established, effective and comfortable relationship with a mental/emotional health professional experienced in this type of trauma.