I’ll never have children: A survivor of sexual abuse- thoughts on becoming a mother

Continuing the series for Sexual Assault Awareness Month today with another guest post, this time from blogger Mummy In Provence.  A multi-cultural story of journey from abuse, disbelief, rejection and fear to healing, self-advocacy, change and empowerment.

I still remember the day that I realised that what was happening every summer was wrong, very wrong. I was 10 years old and we were making recycled paper at school. Some kid was talking about something their teenage brother was doing with his girlfriend. I felt sick. I’d already done that.  I’d been made to do “that” since I was 7. Except I wasn’t playing doctors and nurses. What I was being made to do was something that was reserved for consenting adults. The keyword being consenting. Yes, I was sexually abused from the age of 7 by my uncle – there I said it. I don’t think that, even in therapy, I’ve ever actually written it. So there it is. Before I tell my story I will tell you that I refuse to be a victim. Yes, it happened. Over and over. I was betrayed by the ones I loved and confided it. I was branded a liar. I was told it was ok because he was only 7 years my senior. It was not. This abuse does not, and will not, define me. Not then, not now, not ever.

Confiding and receiving rejection

The worst part of the abuse came when I confided in my father as I didn’t know how to tell my mother as it was her half brother who was the abuser, I was 14. My mother told me I was lying, my father assumed my mother was dealing with it. I was thrown in to deep dark places. I would be lying if I said it doesn’t affect my relationship with them, it does. I was forced into situations where he was given the opportunity to abuse me again and again, one day when I was 16 I fought back. All hell broke loose. I was in Egypt and in the Arab world the man is king, women and girls were never regarded in the same way. I was told I was crazy and to apologise. Just having to see him every day for that 3 week holiday was pure torture, the way he’d look at me, try to touch me and his lewd suggestions. It was awful but no one was there for me. In the Arab world things like abuse are not spoken about. I carried on feeling like it was my fault, no one led me to believe otherwise. I was so wrong. No one ever deserves to have their innocence taken away.

On having children and forgiveness

The whole situation was so warped that I vowed never to have children. I didn’t want to bring them into this horrible world, this awful extended family. I was so terrified that the same thing could happen to one of my children and it sickened me.
The last time I saw my abuser was in my own home when I was 26. I’d been tricked by my own mother, the woman who was meant to protect me, who allowed him to come to stay for 2 weeks.  I promised myself then that this would be the last time I ever saw him and it was something that I would never forgive my mother for.

3 years later I was married and expecting my first baby. I was in a foreign country and apart from my husband I had no one else around. I was terrified, but reassured that my abuser would never know of my baby. I realised I had come a long way. From being adamant that I would remain childless I found myself in a loving and respectful relationship with a man I adored

On becoming a mother

11 months ago I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. She is truly my proudest achievement. I’d be lying if a part of me feels guilty bringing her into this world where monsters live but that is no way to look at the world. Sometimes, when I am feeding her, and she looks at me with her big brown eyes filled with absolute trust, I cry. I cry because I am so scared she may have the same experiences I had but I know I would give my life to protect her from it.  I do feel that I am overprotective, I guess that is natural. Part of me wonders if I plan to breastfeed past 12 months because I want to ensure she is with me as much as possible. I don’t leave her with anyone I don’t know. I am lucky I can stay at home with her. How I wish I could put her in a bubble and keep her safe forever. But I can’t. As a survivor of sexual abuse, letting her grow up will be the hardest part.

From my experience being abused does not, and should not define you. You are not to blame. The guilt survivors are riddled with is worse than the abuse itself. I found the rejection from those I trusted, in time, became worse than the abuse itself. I had a choice to let my experience haunt me, but I haven’t, I have managed, over many years found ways to turn it around and find strength. I refuse to be a victim. Surviving abuse should not prevent you from loving, caring and protecting the next generation.

MummyinProvence, is a first time mummy to BabyinProvence (BiP) who lives in the South of France but she’s not French. She doesn’t really know where she is from! She’s half English and half Egyptian, born in Dubai and has lived all over the world. She’s an expat at heart, a recovering Marketing Manager from a multi-national in Dubai and a serial entrepreneur currently running furnished apartments in the South of France. Her blog www.mummyinprovence.com is a place where she shares her thoughts on breastfeeding and parenting in France where most of her ideals are unsupported.

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Comments

  1. im so proud of you 🙂 i know how much work it is to get over such things….i was molested by my biological father from the time i was about 5 years old until i was about 7 when my mum started to have a feeling something “very NOT RIGHT” was going on and even though i never told her until the age of 21….i am so thankful she made the visitations stop. i always wantted children but breastfeeding felt dirty at first and the thought of sex has ALWAYS felt dirty in my mind. im in counseling and its helped but the most help comes from within and from God for me. Im so proud of you ….what a journey youve been through and have CONQUERED!!!

  2. I can’t imagine how hard it was to go through, how painful the rejection was, and how you feel about your child. But I can applaud you. It took a lot of guts to go through and to share.

    I have never been abused but I feel the same fear for my own children that they should never go through such a terrible thing.

    Sending you a hug and prayers, Mama.

  3. Emma Jones says:

    I’m so sad that my intelligent, beautiful and incredibly brave cousin has endured so much from such a tender and delicate age. I really had no idea darling. My heart is breaking for you. You should be so very proud of yourself. E x

  4. I’m also very proud of you. You have also encouraged me. As I have just finalized my divorce, my daughter being just 3yrs old descriped the best she could that her bio father was hurting her in that way. We packed and left was never able to medically prove it. But thour trust in my God and a whole lot of prayer. I have full custady and he will have supervised visitation. I still believe my daughter. I am proud of her she has more courage than most adults. 🙂

  5. Thank you all for your beautiful words. I truly pains me to hear of the suffering other have endured.
    Thank you to Jessica for sharing my story. I thought that I had dealt with this chapter in my life and I was moving forward, I am, but I would be a liar if I said that it is forgotten. Thank you again for all your beautiful words

  6. “As a survivor of sexual abuse, letting her grow up will be the hardest part.” I can’t even begin to explain how much I feel that that will be the hardest part for me too. Due with my first child, and girl, in July and I’m so so so terrified.

  7. Stokeymom says:

    I cannot begin to imagine what you have been through. I am truly amazed by your courage and so glad for you that you have the happy family that you deserve. I am also fearful of the world in to which we have brought children but it feels me with hope to hear of your courage and your refusal to be a victim.

    Emily

  8. Thank you for sharing your story. As another survivor I commend you on being so brave! Being abused definitely makes parenting a little different, at least for me! I didn’t realize how much it affected my parenting style (not negatively necessarily) until I finally started counseling after over 20 years. Anyhow, thank you for sharing ajd congratulations on your daughter! I’m sure youll be a wonderful & protective mother.

  9. thank you MiP for sharing, and I truly hope that you’re story can help others….

  10. “Part of me wonders if I plan to breastfeed past 12 months because I want to ensure she is with me as much as possible.”

    Mummy, this pierces me, because it is my truth. I know with certainty that I am still breastfeeding my 22-month-old because it keeps her bound to me, and within my protective arms. My abuse started at age 2, and as she hurtles towards that birthday, I become more and more determined to continue nursing. I feel like our physical bond through breastfeeding is a shield I sling around her neck.

    Thank you for sharing your story, and for choosing hope and love for the next generation in your family.

  11. Dear MiP

    I read this last night and was so very sad for what happened to you. It is as if you are now a good friend. It made me want to cry, to scream and to attack.

    Thank you for sharing this story. I can’t imagine how diffficult it must have been to open up. I think how beneficial this will be to other survivors of sexual abuse who may be questioning the same thing: “Do I ever want children”.

    I am happy to hear you say that you are not a victim and very happy that you now have a loving husband and beautiful daughter. These factors will continue to let you heal. I too wish I could keep my children in a glass bubble…

    Thanks again for your courage!
    Rajka

  12. Thank you all again for your kind words. The amount of DM’s and messages I received after this post was published made me cry. It took me back to places I thought I’d overcome and beaten. I am truly saddened by the number of people who endured similar struggles and suffering but we have to look forward, not back. Thank you all, just knowing you are there is tremendous support.

  13. Oh, I didn’t have any idea that you have been through this kind of awful things. I’m proud of you! I’m so happy that you have amazing BiP and your husband, everyone is here to support you. hugs!

  14. I myself understand… I don’t talk about it cause it makes me remember the things I don’t want to.. But I will say as a mother of 3 I am extremely over protective and always thinking something might happen to them.. I never leave them.. And when they do I worry anyway so I don’t enjoy myself.. I struggle everyday.. My oldest is 14yrs old.. And he thinks I’m being to over protective but I can’t help it.. I don’t want him to live the way I did and how I deal with it now… It’s a struggle everyday.. Relationships are difficult for me.. So it’s just me and my children.. Which I’m ok with.. I love them with all my being… And would kill for them if I had to… I’m open with my children so that they can feel comfortable with coming to me about anything.. They don’t have a dad.. So I need to be both.. And that works for us.. U are so much stronger than me and I admire that.. I’m still trying everyday to change my ways.. The older my kids get the more awkward and wrong it feels to cuddle them.. I want to so bad.. But it feels wrong and it effects my children.. I try more and more everyday to become more affectionate with them cause I love them!!!

  15. You are such a strong, brave woman. Thank you so much for sharing your story. We can’t protect our children from everything, but I know your experiences will make you a wonderful mother who is sensitive to your daughter’s needs. Sending hugs and love to you!!

  16. Kristy Hughes says:

    I was abused by my stepfather from about 12-16 when I finally told my mother. I still have guilt and other issues 12 years later. I suffer from chronic depression and have taken medicine for years. My wonderfully supportive husband and wonderful little boys keep me going everyday. My oldest is seven and it took forever to trust others with him. But, you slowly do, you listen to your instincts, you’ll usually know.

  17. I needed this. I was assaulted by a family member, and when I told my parents nothing was done, and then I was required to go to family events, see him at them, converse with him….

    I was finally diagnosed with PTSD and have been working on it. I was like you, never wanting children, until I had surprise pregnancy, and now have a beautiful daughter.

    I too am scared shitless of what could happen to her. We live in a world of monsters. But I also don’t want to restrict her because of what I went through. I can only pray she will know my love for her and how much I will protect her and I would lay my life down for hers in a heartbeat.

  18. I was sexually abused around 3 years old for a while from my older sister’s (at that time) husband. He was family. Suppose to be someone that we all could trust. There was also a friend of the family that abused me as well separately. I look at my 4yo daughter and I feel sick and so angry that someone could have done that to me when I was small and innocent like her. I felt like I couldn’t tell anyone- I didn’t know it was WRONG till I was older.

    With being a parent: I don’t go into major details w/ my daughter but I do talk to her and explain things. Tell her that even family members we know and trust can be bad guys and hurt us. I tell her the importance of our privates staying private and to never kiss anyone “like a husband” does (meaning on the lips).

    I understand the feeling, the need, to over protect her. But I do my best to avoid that. I let her play in her room a lone w/ her cousins- but I listen to them play, I check on them frequently. It’s so hard to teach her independence but also self protection at such a young age. I’d never forgive myself if she ever became a victim too… But because of my experience I’m better educated in HOW to protect her and HOW to raise her with awareness but not fear. The most we can do is our best and pray God protects them when we can’t

  19. I have never told my mother what her father did to me once when I was little. I buried the experience deep, deep inside because he told me to never tell but it was when my first baby was born that what happened to me, was coming to the surface and I could not keep it hidden very long before my husband began questioning my bizarre, overprotective behavior with our child. I have 4 children now but nobody understands my over protectiveness. I know that people judge me because of it, but I know that I do not owe anyone an explanation. I cannot bring myself to tell my mother due to the fact that I am afraid she will either not believe me after all these years, or she will make what happened to me, be about her. Sometimes I wonder if still keeping it a secret makes me a victim. What happened to me was only once, but once was all it took to affect my life the way it has. I don’t’ see the world as having monsters, but every person is someone I do not trust. I never thought of breastfeeding as a way to keep my kiddos close, but it is definitely something I have done for each of my babies, and for as long as possible. My youngest is still nursing, and intend to keep on nursing for as long as she wants it. I am thankful that I have been home for all my children.