Memories, survival and safety

27 Aug

TRIGGER WARNING This post contains information about sexual violence that may be triggering to survivors.

I know if feels like I been gone for a minute but now I’m back, green tea on ice with a fitted. :)

Mi familia, it has been a while since I last posted. I have to be honest, for a while it didn’t feel safe to write for the blog. I am an extremely private person. So private that even Facebook gives me the creeps. Consequently, it felt like writing for the collective and speaking frankly about my experiences, thoughts, doubts, fears and feelings exposed me more than I felt comfortable with. Most folk don’t really understand that this ish right here is not easy. We expose our true selves regularly and though we have many wonderful and thoughtful fans, there are those who often cross the line and say many unnecessary and hurtful things. At the end of the day, we are all just real people with real feelings. We’re also real sensitive about our shit.

I have been thinking about what to write for a very long time, six months to be exact. Every single time I thought about a topic, it felt like I was exposing too much of myself. The more I thought about it, the more it became clear: writing sometimes makes me feel unsafe and vulnerable. These emotions are often difficult for me to deal with. They bring back unwanted memories. The first time I felt this way I was eleven years old.

It was father’s day and I was at my grandparent’s house for the summer. All of the grown folks were drinking and playing card games. I remember going up to my grand parents and saying that I was going to go to bed, that I was scared to be in the house by myself and asking them not to take long before they too retreated for the night.

I went to bed, fell asleep and woke up with my grandfather on top of me. His hands were all over me as he licked my face and repeated, “suck on my tongue.”  I didn’t understand what was happening. I couldn’t move. I was paralyzed with fear. I couldn’t even scream. At some point, my grandmother opened the door to the house. Once he heard the sound of the door opening, he quickly got off of me and jumped into the bed he shared with her.

He did not rape me. However, he did scar me for life. He stole my childhood and all of the childhood innocence I once had. From that moment on I understood that there was evil in the world. I was so ashamed of what happened that I didn’t tell anyone. For years, I blamed myself and wished I had had the courage to tell someone, anyone of what he was capable of. To make matters worse, I blamed myself – convinced that I was a bad little girl. Sadly, my child logic told me that God, wouldn’t let this happen to me had I been a good little girl.

It took years for me to realize that it was not my fault; that I was just a child; that the adults that were supposed to take care of me failed; and that he was the one to blame. The Church taught me that there was great power in forgiveness and I made an honest attempt to forgive him. I convinced myself that alcohol made him do it. Sadly, that was not the truth and I received a rude awakening at the age of fifteen. I was at my mother’s apartment doing my homework while a movie starring Tom Cruise played in the background. I was sitting in the living room couch and from the corner of my eyes could see my grandfather fidgeting in his seat. At one point Mr. Cruise kissed the female lead and my grandfather looked over and said, “Do you remember when we did that?” He said those words with pride. That is when I realized that I could never forgive him for what he did to me. I remember screaming at him, going to my room, calling my best friend and having a panic attack. After that incident, I decided to tell my mother. When I told her, she yelled at me and asked me why I hadn’t told her sooner. She expressed anger at my silence because I had a little sister and he may have done the same to her or to others. [Note: this is NEVER an appropriate response. It is never the responsibility of children to protect other children. That is what adults are for.]

My grandfather died of prostate cancer a few years after that incident. I remember trying to console my mother for her loss while being very angry at God for giving him that much time on this earth. Unfortunately, I was not the only one damaged by his actions. Other women have come out and admitted that he fondled them as well.

My story is a very complex one. I was abused by my grandfather at an early age and was later forced to live with him after the abuse had occurred. I couldn’t tell anyone, but in hindsight the clues that I was abused were always there, the adults around me just didn’t know what to do with the information. We often don’t know what to do with child abusers in our families or our communities. That is a sad truth.

The story does not end there. My grandfather was not the only one to abuse me; there were babysitters and family friends who also stepped out of line and fondled me. The memories are fuzzy. For a very long time I was haunted by my lack of childhood memories. In my mid twenties I inexplicably started crying without reason or provocation and decided to seek therapy. Even at the therapist’s office, I just couldn’t keep it together. I discovered that the crying episodes had to do with the fact that there was so much I couldn’t remember. I was horrified about the fact that my subconscious blocked away five years of memories. What could be so horrific that my subconscious would lock it all away? What would happen to me if I were to remember all of it? Would the memories break me? My therapist reassured me that I didn’t have to remember and that I was safe now. I found that to be quite liberating and only then was I able to stop crying. Thank goodness for therapy.

I am better now but I often have nightmares. There is no rhyme or reason to when they come, they just do. In fact, my girlfriend recently revealed to me that I often quietly sob in my sleep. I do not want to make this post longer than it already is but need to be clear that there are a lot of details to my story that I am not including here. It is nearly impossible to package our stories in neat and linear boxes. Although, I am a survivor of child abuse, this does not define me. This story is complex. My story is complex. I am complex.

I am sharing this story because I think there is power in sharing your truths. I do not live in fear anymore. I am indeed safe. I hope with all of my heart that other victims of sexual abuse can one day say the same.

The following are some facts about child abuse:

1)   While abuse by strangers does happen, most abusers are family members or trusted individuals. Child molesters, pedophiles and perpetrators are everywhere: they are parents, grandparents, family members, teachers, neighbors and friends.

2)   Oftentimes survivors of child abuse are forced to see their abusers regularly.

3)   Perpetrators know how to identify their victims. Consequently, victims of sexual abuse are often vulnerable to abuse by multiple people.

4)   Most child abuse cases go unreported.

5)   There are often many signs that a child is suffering from abuse.

6)   It takes a lot of courage to tell anyone that you have been a victim of abuse.

7)   It is never okay to blame the victim.

8)   If you or someone you love has suffered because of abuse, please know that there are many resources out there:

~Crunkista

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26 Responses to “Memories, survival and safety”

  1. Sunny August 27, 2012 at 10:49 AM #

    Child abuse is something I’m deathly afraid of. I’m engaged and planning on starting a family in the next couple of years. Besides my closest friend who has a story very similar to yours I have two other friends who were sexually abused as children. It seems like it happens more often than not. Last week while I was searching for resources for my residents I came across the sex offender registry and the little map the popped up scared the crap out of me. What are the warning signs of child that has been abused? This whole thing just makes me want to cry.

  2. madamemonarch August 27, 2012 at 10:50 AM #

    Thank you for your bravery.

  3. eeshap August 27, 2012 at 10:57 AM #

    Thank you for writing this, Crunkista. It is an act of bravery to write a post like this and I know it will give comfort and courage to others who have experienced abuse. Love and solidarity.

  4. xtica August 27, 2012 at 10:59 AM #

    thank you for sharing. i have been asking the universe out loud where i could go for help and here is your post. thank you for your honesty and be well dear heart.

  5. bmarie69 August 27, 2012 at 11:01 AM #

    I completely agree – there is great power in sharing one’s truth. Thank you for so bravely sharing yours.

  6. tlfk August 27, 2012 at 11:09 AM #

    Thank you for sharing your story. As a community advocate for survivors of domestic and sexual abuse, I am well aware that child sexual abuse happens much more than we’d like to admit as a society. Also, that this happens because we as a society let it happen (the recent PSU cover up (and collective community turning away)of Sandusky’s abusive actions is a terrible example of that). I know we can’t keep every incidence of abuse from happening, but there is a lot communities could do to better protect children.

    @Sunny: Darkness to Light provides community training designed to provide the community with tools to recognize and prevent child sexual abuse. http://www.d2l.org/site/c.4dICIJOkGcISE/b.6035035/k.8258/Prevent_Child_Sexual_Abuse.htm

    • Sunny August 27, 2012 at 12:03 PM #

      Thanks!

  7. Cecelia Hayes August 27, 2012 at 12:19 PM #

    I am the mother of a very young daughter, and stories like yours are what cause me to lose sleep at night. I feel my duty to protect so strongly–I’m not sure I could stay out of Jail if I learned that someone I know had abused my child. I am so happy that you are recovering, strong, and courageous enough to share your truth. What happened to you was awful, but you have taken that pain and constructed a monument to resiliency and transendency. Blessings on you.

  8. KOW August 27, 2012 at 1:40 PM #

    Thank you so much for sharing this story with all of us. I recently decided to get the courage to address some of the abuses that I endured as a child, and you’re right. This ish ain’t easy. Just when you think you’re ready to wrap everything up into a neat little package, you see, yet again, that you’ve barely scratched the surface. Still, we are whole people with value and healing is a regenerating process.

  9. Semi-Feral Mama August 27, 2012 at 1:42 PM #

    Thank you for sharing. And I am so, so sorry about what happened to you. Yet, your story gives me hope for healing.

  10. tc August 27, 2012 at 1:52 PM #

    brava! brave sister.

  11. Yed August 27, 2012 at 3:29 PM #

    Thank you for having the courage to share your story. Thank you for acknowledging the pain of other survivors by opening your blog with a statement about triggers. Thank you for sacrificing your privacy, so that others may learn and grow stronger through your story. Thank you for acknowledging that most of us have to LIVE with our abusers for years after (my case). Thank you for acknowledging the often vicious self-hatred and self-blame that children internalize when the abuser is an authority or male figure. Like you, I rationalized my abuse as a child by stating that “it must have been me” or “I must have been a seductive or provocative child” or “I must have signaled to him that I wanted that kind of attention”. What I know to be true, is that you will forever live with those memories, but they will not always define you or your life experiences. You can be happy, in spite of these transgressions. Above all, thank you for bringing more light to a subject that we almost always shy away from. After reading your blog, some woman out there is going to start reflecting on why their little girl refuses to be left alone at her uncle’s house, or seems to layer tons of clothes on when grandpa is around, or doesn’t like to be hugged by daddy anymore, or all of a sudden downplays her femaleness, etc. The signs are endless, as you so eloquently point out. Thank you.

  12. urbanbushqueen August 27, 2012 at 7:43 PM #

    Thank you Divine Sista, Your courage to speak/write out on this issue in such a public forum is HUGE!! violence against women within our family lines and our communities is pandemic. although I trace it’s origins back to the experiences we endured during the MAAFA, that no way leaves men unaccountable for their actions. I too am a survivor and have worked toward healing of the legacy of sexual abuse for much of my life. I congratulate your loving, healing, and radical efforts at speaking truth to power. In the Deepest of Gratitude

  13. Sistah August 28, 2012 at 8:25 AM #

    Yes as a fellow abused victim…I know your story all to well. I was more twisted than you could have imagined…I fell in love with my abuser, and even tried to defend his evil…Yet GOD cleanesed me and allowed me to see the evil in my abuser’s mess and I did eventally survive…happily married and praying to one day have a child of my own…So please sisters and brothers “Heal” from sexual abuse and don’t allow it to eat away at you…

  14. z.bediako August 28, 2012 at 12:55 PM #

    Nearly Every woman that I love in my life has been the victim of some kind of domestic, physical or sexual abuse. This story haunts me because it is yet another story of blackgirlabuse yet your words evoke much hope and admiration. We are telling our stories. We are talking back…. that is the greatest action and we will continue to progress.

    thanks sis

  15. Mutale Nkonde August 29, 2012 at 6:36 PM #

    Brave beyond belief

  16. PeepThisPeeps August 29, 2012 at 10:17 PM #

    Thank you for your honesty, openness, and truth. Much respect.

  17. zenobiajo August 31, 2012 at 2:46 PM #

    Thanks for sharing. The more speaking out survivors do, the more attention will be given to outing abusers and hopefully, preventing new victims.

  18. laniza August 31, 2012 at 8:15 PM #

    Thank you for sharing your story. May God continue to bless you and heal your spirit.

  19. Naima Major Berry September 4, 2012 at 7:11 AM #

    sharing is good. but when will “we” start putting child molesters in jail where they belong without regard to their status in the family? or at least breaking their plate and exiling them from the comforts of family? when we decide to do right by the child instead of grandpa, the child will be rescued from a lifetime of distress because “we” have focused on the crime and the3 victim instead of the criminal and the victimizer. by continuing to ” not know what to do with child molesters in the family” we continue to not know what to do for children, all children, who are at risk from sexual psychopaths — in the family. the sexual sadist has already broken the bonds of family by his (or her) acts. why are “we” preserving the broken? misplaced priorities once again throw the child under the bus.

  20. blujewel September 5, 2012 at 6:16 AM #

    I came to your blog by way of Anna Renne and I applaud your courage and strength to post your heartbreaking story. As one who’s been through sexual abuse, I know all too well how hard it can be to not just come to terms with what took place, but to share it with others. Trust an believe your story has touched another life and will continue to reach those in need.

    Stay well my sister

  21. thebrowngrrlzproject September 7, 2012 at 11:11 AM #

    Reblogged this on the brown grrlz project.

  22. DragonflyWriter September 11, 2012 at 10:00 PM #

    Thank you for sharing your story. I have nominated this blog for the Only Lovely Blog Award. I love reading what other feminists have to say and the experiences they have gone through.

  23. Anna September 12, 2012 at 5:46 PM #

    There is power in telling — and I hope some power when those who hear you are holding that truth with the respect it is due.

    I am so glad you included that list at the end. It cannot be overstated: children are never to blame or responsible for keeping others from being abused; and it is never ok to blame the victim.

    Your strength and vulnerability are inspiring — thank you.

  24. Lula Lisbon September 19, 2012 at 1:56 PM #

    Reblogged this on Kisses Like Wine and commented:
    A topic near to me, and a post that deserves more recognition and exposure.

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  1. Memories, Survival and Safety « thefeministblogproject - September 21, 2012

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