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I Was Living Two Lives.

Question:

Dr. Schwartz, My male cousin and I were sexually abused by a family friend when we were 4 years old. After, the man was sent to prison. I saw a psychologist for a few years and my cousin did not. I was convinced for a long time that after my therapy sessions ended, that I was “fixed” and my problems should end with that. My cousin, over the years, ended up sneaking under the blankets to look down my pants when we were sleeping, or would spy on me in the shower, I recently found out he has broken into homes to steal random girls underwear and takes pictures under girls skirts with a camera. My uncle-in-law, his Dad, would do the same thing to me also. I used to just accept it because I didn’t want them to get in trouble, and I thought I could tolerate it from my cousin because we were best friends growing up and understood each other after what we went through.

I didn’t tell my Mom about my uncle-in-law until I was about 17 and made her swear to not tell anyone because I didn’t want him to get in trouble. I had a 4 year relationship through High School and never had sex with my boyfriend. I also never drank or partied in high school and expected the same out of my boyfriend. I liked to have control over myself always. After he cheated on me I decided to go to a party, I drank and ended up getting raped by a friend I thought I trusted. I wasn’t quite ready to deal with the rape because I was about to start college and was just breaking up with my four year boyfriend.

There were about 20 guys at the party that were telling me to stop crying and calling me names, so I told myself that I have been through sexual abuse before, its nothing new to me and I could get through it again alive. So I decided to try to replace the memory and hang out with the guy who raped me again to try to just remember him as he was before that incident. I did this for two years, and in those 2 years, he and his friends destroyed me with their words and manipulation. I wanted to help them and believed I could tolerate the pain. I also liked how, when I was with them, I didn’t have to fake a smile like I did to people in my “real life.” It became a 2nd life to me, like a drug. I woke up once and the guy tried raping me again and I did stop him. Then, one of those original 20 guys came out and told me he believed me and I started facing it.

My problem is I am angry with myself for dealing with it for 2 years, and all I want to do is tell my mom but I can’t get myself to. I don’t want to disappoint her. She was able to leave my biological father when he was abusive, but I just kept going back to these guys. I feel stupid, like I must be the dumbest girl who probably deserved it if I kept going back.

How can I expect them to respect me if I couldnt respect myself first? I just don’t see how I could have kept returning to that situation. I am a very confident girl. Referring back to my “two separate lives”.. in this life I feel like I deserve the utmost respect and am gorgeous. I do beauty pageants! In tghe other life,  I felt like I could tolerate their abuse and I always wanted to prove to them that I was better than what they made me and I wanted them to recognize that I deserved their respect.

What happened? Or was it that I was just really stupid?

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Answer:

You are not stupid. Even though you believed you were “fixed” after seeing the psychiatrist, you were not. One of the outcomes of sexual abuse is that the child feels guilty and disgusted. They come to feel a real sense of self hatred. I believe that this is what happened to you and, in my opinion, self hate and guilt are things you continue to live with.

You are probably not fully aware of how awful you feel about yourself. What keeps happening to you is that, unawares, you allow yourself to be abused because you incorrectly believe that is what you deserve. So, you keep repeating the same cycle.

I want to urge you to enter psychotherapy so that you can start to address the feelings you have about having been abused. I also want to urge you to find and join a women’s self help group for survivors of sexual abuse and rape. Do an internet search for such groups in your community.

Psychotherapy and a support group can help you come to understand yourself and it will help you feel empowered to stop the repeated process of hurting yourself.

You write that you are angry with yourself. There in lies your problem. You are angry with yourself for all of this instead of being angry at the people who did this to you.

Best of Luck

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Comments
  • jc

    2 Lives,

    I am so sorry this happened to you. I can tell from how you write that you are very smart. The choices you made were based on the past and how you tried to cope with that. Those people that did those horrible things to you do not deserve your respect. They are responsible for their own actions, and no matter how a person acts, doing what they did is wrong. So it cannot be you, because they are responsible for their own actions. I hope you do what Dr. Schwartz suggested, because although I'm no expert, they sound like they would help. Anyone who when through what you did would need help. You already are strong, and asking for help cannot weaken that. Even through all of it, you sound more level-headed than most people your age. So be as healthy as you can and keep looking forward! Good luck to you.

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