I was sexually abused by my dad.
It had happened throughout my whole childhood. And it only stopped when I blurted it out to my boyfriend at the time at 18.
But I was able to go about my everyday without letting it stop me. Not just after he left, but whilst he was still around. I was the cheerful and friendly girl at school, top of my class without working too hard, loving to read and travel and put myself forward for every opportunity that came up. During the day I was normal.
And come night time, I just accepted that was something that would happen for a few minutes. I lay perfectly still, did not open my eyes, did not say a word.
And somehow I was able to compartmentalise the two realities completely. No one would have ever guessed that anything was wrong.
A few months ago I found out about therapy offered to all employees. I told myself out loud “well why not?” But inside I whispered “you’re broken and need fixing.”
Therapy was not particularly enlightening and I did not completely connect with my therapist.
But what I did find was going made me rethink about those nights in detail – something I had never done before. And in doing so, I discovered he had absolutely no control over me. I was loving life and had not let that stop me from enjoying myself. I needed to hear that. I needed to know that I was not damaged and broken.
We discussed how I blamed myself for what had happened, for not telling someone sooner and for being so passive. But I see now that I was being brave for my family – my mum, my sisters and my brother.
The reality was a few minutes with him touching me in a way I knew was wrong was something I could manage. Him beating up my mum, leaving us with no money or the stigma of my mum being a divorcee was much worse.
People think the worst part of what happened was what he did. But the worst part was living with him. He was a controlling, dangerous man. The kind that beat his wife when his sick baby cried in the night. The kind that would leave her with £20 for the whole week. The kind that would openly cheat on her, knowing she had no one to go to with four young children.
And I was not passive. I recalled how I would wet the bed – even at the age of 16 and not wash myself to make myself dirty. Admittedly these were not conscious acts of resistants but I would like to think that they were unconscious ones.
I do still have fleeting thoughts about what happened but it does not stop me from getting on with my day. I am able to love and am loved. My family are solid and successful. I am not broke or damaged.
Written in response to my 30 day challenge prompt “what do you wear to bed”.