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.