Dedication: 8 year old me.
Trigger warning: Before reading this post, please be aware that it contains descriptions of childhood sexual assault and rape.
My story starts at 8 years old, although I’m not going to start there. In fact, if I were to start there it would take away from the purpose of my story. So, my story begins on Boxing Day of 2020. My mother, sister and I were all gathered in the living room, having a drunken merry time. The exact conversation I am about to share with you was raised by my other sister the following year, but unfortunately was shut down by my loved one straight away. My mother drank a lot, everyday to be exact. When ever my mother was intoxicated, she would fall to her feet in melancholy whilst wailing about her past. My mother was sexually abused as a child, which I won’t go into detail of because that is not my story to tell. My mother had told her children the ins and outs of her childhood trauma, but until this year, I was too naive to understand it. Anyways, that evening my mother brought her traumas up again to both me, and my older sister. My sister looked straight at me and then said that she had remembered a time when we all went on a family holiday, and an incident happened where my mother caught my brother attempting to rape me. I remember that day clearly. I was 9 years old; my brother was 11. My brother and I are the youngest of the family, therefore we were made to share everything; and on this occasion, that meant sharing a bed whilst on holiday. The abuse had been going on for a year before my mother finally caught him out on the family trip. Thank God, I thought to myself. The relief I felt knowing that my protector, mother knew what was happening to me. I am finally going to be saved. Unfortunately, I was wrong.
As soon as my mother pulled the bed covers off and was exposed to my brother attempting to penetrate me, she told 9-year-old me to get out of the bed I was currently sharing with my brother and ordered to sleep on the floor in my other brother’s room. The next day she told my whole family what she saw my brother do. I don’t know if she played it down or even lied, and I guess I will never know. I was being abused from the ages 9-11 by my brother, and I went on to live in the same house as him for 6 years after that. Every day I had to live knowing that the person that sexually abused me as a child is just down the hallway. So, on boxing day of 2020 when my older sister brought up the assault on the family holiday, I thought one thing to myself. If its ever going to come out, its all going to come out now, you can either break yourself or your family. And that’s what I did, I completely shattered my family for my own piece of mind. I told my mother and my sister everything that evening. My childhood sexual abuse that I had been holding onto for 6 whole years is finally not a secret anymore. In that moment, I felt so liberated, so free. Not to my surprise my mother was instantly on my brother’s side, she didn’t even bother to take in what I said. My mother made every possible excuse for my brother, but not once did she ask about me, not once did she apologise for not stopping it. She was refusing to acknowledge my side. She continuously cried “but he’s, my son!” which I replied with “but I’m your fucking daughter”. At this point I felt crushed, and I could have given up, there and then, but I didn’t.
This is the moment I decided to change my life. I got up from the sofa where I was sitting opposite my hysterical mother and livid sister, went into my room, packed a bag and walked straight out of my front door. Luckily, I had a close friend that let me live with her. I had known her and her family for 10 years, so you can only imagine how welcomed I felt in their home. I ended up staying at their house for 3 weeks, and during one of them days I had taken a trip down to the sexual health clinic. I managed to open to one of the workers there about the situation I was currently living with, although because at the time I was under 18, they had to involve social services and the police. The police spoke to me and explained to me that I could press charges against my brother if I wished to. I didn’t want to though, a part of me knew that would absolutely kill my mother. I was also made to speak with sexual violence professionals, therapists and social workers. 2 weeks into living at my friend’s house, I needed to return home to get some more clothes. When I arrived at my house my parents made me eat dinner with them before I left. My mother was drunk, she said the most gut-wrenching things to me that night, but as soon as she screamed “get the fuck out of my house” I knew it was my time to leave. Little did I know, that would be the last conversation I had with my mother.
On January 15th, 2021, my mother committed suicide. I loved my mother, I really did. Although she has hurt me in ways, I can’t begin to tell you, she was my biggest ever love. When I was little, I used to cry myself to sleep just by the thought of my mother not being here anymore. The day she decided to end her life, was the day my dad finally kicked my brother out so that I could come home. The day she decided to end her life, my two older sisters were trying to get them to sign over my guardianship. The day she ended her life, none of her children were speaking to her. The day she ended her life, she believed everyone would be better without her, but God was she wrong. We weren’t better off without her, but now I am free. I am free. I am free, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. I was kind of angry at my mum for committing suicide. No, I was very angry. I was confused, numb, tired, scared, worried, hopeless, happy, joyful, sad, broken, you name it; I felt it after my mother died. The second my mum committed suicide; I was left in the dark. What happened to me was forgotten about, it was irrelevant to everyone around me. I couldn’t deal with all these emotions by myself again.
I started to self-medicate. I was drinking every single day to the point I was blackout drunk. I was smoking a lot of weed too. I was out all night, and all day, doing God knows what with God knows who. I was destroying myself. I hated myself, I hated the people around me, I just did not want to exist anymore. I developed an eating disorder which then led me to my first suicide attempt. On 30th July 2021 I was placed into The North London Priory Hospital for Mental Health. The way I felt in there, the feeling I had, is never going to leave me. I was treated for my past sexual traumas, diagnosed with CPTSD, and most importantly, in the hospital I spent so much time alone. I spent a lot of time in a room with only me in it, I was able to find myself, love myself, and I thank The Priory for that. I was put on medications, that to this day are still benefiting me significantly. I went 6 weeks sober. No drugs, no alcohol, and I felt amazing for it. I was able to get to know myself, the sober me, the real me.
It’s the end of 2021 now, were just about to go into the new year’s. I am so thankful for this year. 2021 allowed me to find the power in my voice, 2021 allowed me to stick up for myself, to put my foot down and say “no, this isn’t right”. Speaking my truth broke my family, after my mother committed suicide, everybody was drinking too much, not laughing enough, and daydreaming way too often. It’s hard seeing the people you love walk around the house with a broken expression on their faces. After I spoke my truth, my family shattered to pieces, call me selfish but I would rather break them than myself. I couldn’t move on with my life, holding such a dark twisted trauma from the people around me. As of now, I’m 18 years old. I started college once I left The Priory. I never thought school would be for me, but I am absolutely in love with everything about my sixth form. I’m happy now, some days I feel like shit, but most of them I don’t. I am not a victim of childhood sexual abuse; I am a survivor. I survived that horrible period of my life, and I came out the other side a lot better. The message I have for the women reading this is believe in you. Your voice holds so much power, let yourself be heard, refuse to be silenced, put your foot down and make everybody listen to you, and most importantly always put yourself first. I have leaned to put my own mental health before anyone around me. Remember, nobody can ever tell your story apart from you. I believe in the person reading this simply because she is a woman and I believe in all women. We all have the strength and the power in our voices to overcome every trauma we have ever been through. Stay strong, I believe in you.
Photo credit: Image provided by the storyteller.