Survivor Story: She Was Sexually Abused As a Child
Written by: *Whitney, Survivor
According to RAINN, approximately 93% of child sexual abuse victims under age 18 are abused by someone they know. The perpetrators of these crimes can be a close family member or friend, a teacher, coach, doctor, or many other possibilities. The children enduring the abuse are often told to keep it a secret or outright threatened not to tell anyone else.
The trauma of the abuse affects all areas of the survivors’ lives, including personal relationships, fear of intimacy, and physical and psychological development, and contributes to the onset of depression, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, and drug and alcohol abuse. Survivor Whitney shares how being sexually abused by three male parental figures affected her, the damage it caused, and a message for others who have survived child sexual abuse.
Whitney admits that she is not a perfect human being. Mistakes are made in life, and sometimes, they have a profound effect on others. Like the rest of us, she is not perfect. She has lied and stolen. Sometimes, she gets angry or sad, but, regardless of that, she knows that she never deserved the childhood that was thrust upon her. Like most who go through child abuse, she did not have a choice, and she did not have a voice to utter a single word about the abuse she was enduring.
Starting at a young age, Whitney was physically – and later sexually abused – by her father.
Whitney’s abuse started when she was born. Her biological father took off with her and would not allow any family members to see her, not even Whitney’s mother, who just wanted to hold her newborn little girl. Eventually, her biological father gave up and returned her to her mother, but she had been bleeding so much from giving birth that Whitney was hurried away into a different room. The nurses and doctors saw this as a “proud father” moment. All of this was second-hand knowledge when Whitney’s family thought it was okay to tell her, but they had no idea about anything she has endured.
Her mother and father separated shortly after Whitney was born, but she was still required to see him. She was told when she was older that she would come home with bruises all over her body. Whitney does not remember any of that, but she does remember some of what happened to her while she was with her father. Her mother was fighting in family court to get full custody of her. By the time she was granted custody, the abuse had already happened.
Whitney was six when her father first raped her. The pain was enough to send her into a screaming fit, but she was quickly silenced by a large hand and held in place by a man who was twice her size. She was shaking when it was over, and a whisper in her ear made her freeze. “Tell anyone, and you’ll never speak again.” It was the last time Whitney was with her father before full custody was granted to her mother and stepfather.
She never said a word to anyone, and she never understood the full extent of the trauma until she grew up. Her mother and stepfather divorced when she was ten, and she left. Because she had trauma earlier in life as well as brain damage, she was too unstable to take care of children, and Whitney had to stay with her stepfather. She thought she was safe in his care, but as it turns out, she was not.
The man she had come to see as a loving father figure shattered her trust and began abusing her.
He looked at Whitney like she was his toy not long after her mother left, and he showed her that was all she was to him. He placed her on a washing machine, and he molested her. Whitney sat there, confused, angry, and sad, and it brought back all the memories of her father and those seven simple words he said to her: “Tell anyone, and you’ll never speak again.”
She was then forced to perform sexual acts, and when he was done each time, he gave her an allowance. Whitney had no idea her stepfather was capable of such things. He always seemed like a loving father-figure to her and her brother and a loving husband to her mom. It did not stop with molestation or oral sex. For several weeks, she felt like he was preparing her for sex, and that nightmare eventually came true. She looked up at his cold, dark eyes, and she knew from that moment if she spoke about it or told anyone, she would be punished. His control and intimidation worked, and Whitney endured the pain for many years to come.
Her mother had met a new man, and the relationship was already strained. She never saw her as a mother but merely a friend that she rarely spoke to. Whitney would see her occasionally, and over time, the relationship grew somewhat stronger. The same would happen with her mother’s boyfriend, to a point where he would touch her in areas his hands did not belong. She shook in fear the first time he touched her because it reminded her of her father and stepfather (who at the time was abusing her).
Whitney says that her mother saw what her boyfriend was doing and did nothing to stop it. She allowed it to go further than a touch, and soon enough, he was raping her when her mother was in a different room. When he stepfather would come to pick her up, she knew that it would be happening all over again.
She does not remember her mother ever stopping any of her boyfriend’s advances, but she does recall her sitting in a chair at the end of the bed watching Whitney she is. They took provocative pictures of her and kept them in a file on their computer. She does not know what they did with them, but she knew they were there.
Her mother’s boyfriend must have gotten tired of Whitney because the abuse stopped when she was 14 years old. It was swept under the rug and forgotten about, and she said that she went along with it. All the while, Whitney was still being victimized by her stepfather.
When Whitney started dating her first boyfriend, her stepfather retaliated by kicking her out of the house.
She got her first boyfriend when she was 18, and her stepfather knew that Whitney was no longer ‘his.’ He was angry, angry enough to kick his own daughter out of the house, forcing her to stay with a boyfriend she had only just met. Whitney went back to her stepfather’s house after a few days, but she knew she could no longer live there. He became angry with Whitney because he was not able to control and manipulate her anymore.
“My sexual and physical abuse started at the age of six and ended when I was eighteen, but it took me six more years before I was able to speak about my past in depth. I suffer from severe PTSD, bipolar disorder, clinical depression, and anxiety disorder. I have scars from attempting to end my life, and I have scars on my soul and heart.
“I live with a supportive and loving family now. At times, it is uncomfortable because it is not what I am used to, but I am slowly lessening the fearful trembling of the young child that hides behind my smile. I am taking small steps to help that scared little girl finally be happy.
“I am writing this because I know others go through this, and I know others cannot or will not speak about it. I hope this gives some strength to the reader to share their story. No matter what people put you through, you are worth it. You’re not to blame, and you are not the reason these monsters choose this path. You’re worth every breath and every step you take.”
*Survivor’s name has been changed.
*If you or someone you know is a victim or survivor of child sex abuse, there is help. You can visit the RAINN website at https://www.rainn.org/ to chat live with an advocate or call their helpline at 800-656-4673.
**If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence website at www.breakthesilencedv.org, chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777, or send a private message through our Facebook page.
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