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  1. #1

    Still suffering from an experience long ago

    Although I have a few serious issues that I am working on, there is one particular issue that I would like to work towards resolving.
    When I was almost sixteen(in the early 1970's), I was a dedicated track athlete competing in provincial and some national competitions. This involved some traveling and overnight stays at other cities etc. At one competition in another city, I was the only athlete attending from our club. My father and I shared a room at the hotel for one night. That night we each went to bed. As I was laying in my bed, my father said he really missed my mom (they had a terrible relationship and were actually almost separated), and he asked me if I wanted to lay down beside him. I just layed in my own bed in shock, petrified and pretended to be asleep and not hear what he had just said. My mind was racing about what I would or could do if he came over to my bed.
    Could I run out to the hotel lobby (in my pajamas) and tell the night clerk what was happening??? I layed there and nothing else happened and my father never said anything more. I eventually went to sleep of some kind. When I woke up in the morning, I had a competition to do, so we both just got up and went to the competition as if nothing ever happened. I was never the same after that incident. My life went in a downward spiral throughout the rest of high school and I was not able to get the counselling help I needed. Everyone had thought I was a multi successful young student anyways. I ended up quiting track, losing my social group, and dropping from an honours student to not having enough credits to graduate from high school. I suffered from uncontrollable crying, breaking down during class time at school, and become eating disordered. I tried to make myself physically sick with pills, but no one noticed as I was usually alone. Then I left home at the end of grade 12 and moved to another city (I attended university on the basis of the course work I had completed even though I had not officially graduated from high school).
    Now it is thirty years later and I still have this issue. I feel guilty for allowing myself to be so affected by this incident. It's like the incident has had this huge affect on me, out of proportion to what it should have.

    I hope that I will gain some insight from others about what happened to me and what is continuing to cause me distress over the experience that I described as well as ideas for helping to resolve this.

  2. #2

    still suffering from an experience long ago

    Poor CM. That had to be a dreadful feeling for a young girl, lying awake and terrified in the same room with a man she no longer felt she knew, or could trust. It really breaks my heart to think of you having to go through such a thing. It doesn't surprise me at all to hear that the events of that night still haunt you.

    If you don't mind my asking, is your father still alive? Have you ever spoken to him of this incident, and do you have any siblings?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    California
    Age
    54
    Posts
    71

    still suffering from an experience long ago

    Dear CM,

    I'm so sorry for what you have experienced. Please don't feel that your reaction is out of proportion. I don't believe it is at all.

    For an adult man – especially your Father whom you trust and who is supposed to be your protector– to act in a way that is so against nature, and you in an environment where you are completely vulnerable and unsuspecting would of course have a devastating affect on you. I’m so sorry you couldn’t be helped in all these years, but I do hope you will find it now.

    I started talking on this forum several months ago about some minor issues that were bothering me, I think just to see if it was ok/safe to talk here. Because underneath it all, I have had a great need to share and be understood regarding a very similar issue to yours. Unfortunately, until today -after reading your post -I didn't feel like I could let the "public" know about it.

    If I understand you correctly, you are most troubled by the affect of who you saw yourself as being (what kind of person you were) and after this event, who you NOW see yourself as being. (this is hard to write out - I hope I'm making sense). In other words, you knew who you were and what your family structure was and accepted it and pursued your life successfully within it. Then, after this shocking event, you are having a hard time (it doesn't matter how long ago it happened - it's still fresh in your mind so it's current) knowing who you are and how you fit into your family and how you fit into society. Please tell me if I'm wrong. But in case I'm somewhat right, I'll keep going...
    First, I must stop and apologize for having to write about 'you'. I feel the way I have stated above, but still can't seem to handle it enough to speak in first person.

    In a nutshell, I grew up thinking I belonged to a loving, close, comfortable family who all supported me and wanted good things for me and I felt very secure. Then, I was abused and raped by several men, including an Uncle that I had grown up with, and I never physically fought any of them. I just laid there wishing I could get away. (They knew they were hurting me and on one incident, I had been drugged by several men who carried me from bed to bed.) The worst part of all of it was my reaction. Why didn't I kick them where it hurts and run? Or scream? I have no idea. So this made me lose all self respect and understanding and I felt like I didn't belong anywhere and like I was a freak or something. Then later I found out that my Grandfather sexually abused myself and some of my cousins and my Mom and her sisters (his daughters) when we were all very little and I found out that my Mom was raped by a man and he is my biological father and not the Father (who was awesome) that I grew up with. This completely shattered my world. How can adult men mistreat women and children so horribly? And the person who I thought I was – based on the setting of my family and home while growing up now took on a completely different thing. It is unreal to me. I still have such a hard time believing these things are true and they really happened to me. This isn’t who I am.

    I can’t tell you how much I wish I could help you. I have a hard time putting into words the feelings I have/had regarding this and also have no idea how to handle this stuff.
    I did find a helpful section of this forum on grief (http://www.psychlinks.ca/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=66) that helped me understand some of it. I especially focus on this part that is talking about how long we will have to endure this: “as long as it takes you to accept and learn to live with your loss” I do think we are both suffering from loss. What have we lost? Security. Confidence. Safety. Love. etc…… But then how do we accept this? The only thing I know to do is forgive them and me. I have to forgive myself because I reacted in a way that I don’t understand and would never have believed I would have done. I have to forgive them for what they have done. It is only hurting me (all of these men are dead in my case) to continue struggling with it. But when I study forgiveness, I get stuck with one of the definitions that I believe is the truth. I have to be glad it happened. I know, you’ve got to be kidding right? But I do believe I have to do this –somehow. I believe the process of forgiveness starts with acceptance, then finding the good in an event or person – no matter how impossible it seems. To test myself to see if I have truly reached this point, I have to be able to say I’m glad it happened. No a small task. The only way I have been able to do this in this instance is first of all with God’s help through study and prayer and faith, then second, by telling myself that this is the truth and no matter how much I don’t like it, it’s better than living a lie. And, if this happened to me, I am strong enough to deal with it and let it go. I am continually seeking this strength to deal with each level of this. I just found out some of the stuff about my family a couple of months ago, so it’s very fresh for me still.

    I hope this at least helps you not feel so alone. I know that reading your post helped me in that way.

  4. #4

    still suffering from an experience long ago

    Hi,ThatLady, After I moved away I reduced the times I saw my father and my relationship with my mother became a little closer. My father reverted back to alcoholism and I only saw him once or twice a year. After I had my own children, he got himself into some trouble and reconnected with me for some advice (I was about 38 then). He stayed at our home for a week and because of alcohol addiction behaviors I made the decision not have contact with him any more (unless he became rehabilitated on his own accord). I have never regretted that decision and know without a doubt that it was, and is, the best decision for myself and my family. I never attempted to talk to him about the incident at the hotel and only in the last couple of years have told one or two relatives. I will tell my mother soon as we have gotten to the point where I think we can both handle it. I have one brother who is a kind and gentle person. I did tell his wife a couple of years ago during a family emergency when we were all very close for a few days.

    Hi Laurie,

    Thank you so much for writing and understanding. You must have a tremendous spirit to come as far as you have (to forgiveness) with your experiences. Your question regarding how some men can treat women and children so horribly is extremely important and related to bullying and abuse in general I think. It feels like the more people start talking about their experiences in public (forums and other places) the more knowledgible we will all become about the prevalence of the human abuses that are going on, creating more momentum for changing human behavior and stopping these violations of vulnerable people. I hope that more young people will be better educated through this sharing and seek help to protect themselves and their personal rights when they need it, and not put up with abuse by any person in their life.

    I see what you mean about the 'losses' that I incurred with that experience with my father. I hadn't thought about it that way before, so thank you. That would explain a lot of the feelings that I have, which I haven't dealt with.

    For myself, I am not 'glad' that it happened, but feel that if it happens in an imperfect world, then I probably am I stronger person who can take the experience and use it for something that will benefit someone else. That is, if it had not been one of my personal experiences, I probably wouldn't be as capable of understanding and helping other victims. I am also interested in educating people in my community and promoting respectful treatment of all life on the planet. I would like to be apart of stopping the cycle of abuse.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    California
    Age
    54
    Posts
    71

    still suffering from an experience long ago

    Hi CM,

    Thank you for your kind words. I'm truly glad if anything I said helped you. You helped me too. I am so grateful for this forum also. I agree with you that the more we all talk about it the more it will help us all understand and better able to help others. Unfortunately, it also always makes me aware of how it occurrs way more than I think anyone realizes it does. That is sad.

    When I referred to being "glad" about the things we need to forgive, I don't mean it like I'm "happy" it happened. I don't think you took it that way, but I feel like I need to explain myself a little better. I think there are different ways to forgive and for example, when someone who is suffering dies, you can be glad because they are not suffering any more. I actually prayed for my Father to die so he wouldn't suffer any more. I can't tell you how bad it had to get before I could do that, but now, looking back, I'm so glad I got to that point. But I'm not at all glad that he went through it. So I guess, I'm not saying I'm glad when people do things they shouldn't but that since I've experienced some of these things, I am glad that I have survived and like you say, I'm glad I can help others -even if it's only by understanding. That can be huge all by itself. The only thing I can think of in your case, is that maybe you can be glad it didn’t go any further than it did and it must have also been a warning to you (in a sense) and you learned about the character of your father. It doesn’t lessen the negative parts, but it might help create more of a balance in general. At least you have a good and a bad list instead of just a bad one. Make sense? It’s fine if you don’t see it that way – it’s just my way of dealing with it I guess.

    I am fascinated/interested in something else you said:

    Now it is thirty years later and I still have this issue. I feel guilty for allowing myself to be so affected by this incident. It's like the incident has had this huge affect on me, out of proportion to what it should have.

    It makes me wonder what is the proportion something like this should have on people? Where do we get this standard in our minds? Like there is a particular time frame something should affect us or level of impact that certain things should have on us. I, too, feel like something must be wrong with me to not be able to move past this. I have known about most of it for 23 years. I think when I read this the first time it made me wonder how do you think you should have handled the situation? What else could you really have done? And why would something like this not affect you so much? As I work my way through this thought process while talking to you, I wonder if we don't allow ourselves what we need to deal with things because we are too busy denying that the event warrants it and minimize it (which I also see as a survival/defense reaction). I think for me, I have kind of given up trying to figure it out. It is exhausting, and I’ve never reached any conclusions and going back doesn’t change anything. But I want to be happy and have a good life and this gets in the way, so I am trying to switch my focus towards “letting go” of the things I cannot change. For now, that is helping. But the demons raise their ugly heads from time to time, and I revisit everything hoping this time it will bring me to a deeper level of “letting go” and forgiving – mostly me - and I can heal.

    I do tend to be long winded, and embarrass myself when I get like this, so don’t be offended but I’ll be quiet on this forum again for a while. I hope you find peace with all you’re dealing with.

  6. #6

    still suffering from an experience long ago

    Dear Laurie,

    Oh my goodness you have had an incredibly horrible experience. I have only once ever related my experience with rape in an online forum. It is a difficult topic for me. I wanted to let you know that you are not alone in your experience and it was your suggestion, that people may learn from this and prevention for others may be possible by sharing our experiences, that prompted me to share this here.

    My situation occurred with strangers so does not really fit under family violence and abuse. I was 19 when I was convinced to travel to another city by two women to "help" them with a job. It was what seemed like an interesting job before I started college that fall. These women were then joined by a man who supposedly left them in dire straights who then proceeded to psychologically intimidate me and hit me. I was choked when I had attempted to get away and then drugged. I was there for two days and left naked in a room with a mattress on the floor. During that time I was only conscious when they repeatedly woke me up. I was raped by this man once. I did not know their names or where I was in this strange city. I was finally conscious and free of the drug effects and was allowed to leave and go home. I thought my life would end during this ordeal.

    I don't think you could have fought with your captors and won, Laurie. This is probably why you did not fight back and the drug effects would also leave you unable to fight even though you were fully conscious of what was happening to you. I am so glad you survived. I also feel lucky that I survived but I will never forgive these people. I hope that parents and teens are aware and do heed this warning that when strangers offer jobs to be very vigilant about who they are and to not trust the situation unless you have solid eveidence that it is a safe jopb offer.

    Cm, I would imagine that an experience where you felt your father was stepping beyond the love and safety you expected him to provide, would leave an imprint on a 16 yr old that would always be there. I don't think you can erase memories or experiences and I don't have any advice on how you can resolve this issue.

  7. #7

    still suffering from an experience long ago

    Quote Originally Posted by Laurie

    .... How can adult men mistreat women and children so horribly? ...
    Hi Laurie,

    Those were not 'men'. 'Men' would not do such a thing. The correct words for animals like that cannot be written here.

    I feel for you CM, Laurie and HeartArt. My heart hurts when I hear stories like this... I know what it is like. I am a male survivor of childhood sexual abuse and later rape and attempted rape by two women.

    My 'family', if you can call them that, was rife with sexual abuse and incest. I am so ashamed of them all. I am ashamed to be associated with them. Ashamed to be related to them.

    Men are also assaulted sometimes. I was... maybe not as 'bad' as some... but it hurt me no less.

    Besides all the abuse when I was a young kid... When I was about 15 maybe... my sister-in-law drugged me one night. I stayed over at my brothers place one night... he was away at work that night... I was going to go with his wife to meet him really early in the morning at his job. Thinking back... I remember her bringing me a coke just before bed and I remember drinking it then getting really tired... I could not stay awake... I went to bed. I thought I had dreamed it... but I remember she came into the room that night and I could not focus... it was all blurry. I could not seem to 'wake up'. The next morning I woke up not wearing what I went to bed in. And I had obviously not woken to go meet my brother. She was acting all strange... said quietly to me "do you remember last night?"... I could not. I still do not recall everything... but you 'know' when something is not right. It was a couple of days later when I started to 'remember' things... what I thought were the 'dreams' (nightmare rather).

    Men sometimes too are placed in situations where 'trust' is betrayed. Where you think you can trust somebody and they deceive you.

    When I was about 25, maybe a bit older... I had a female friend that I was close with. I thought I was in love with her... I guess maybe I did but in more of a nurturing way. She called me in a panic one morning to help her. She said she was drinking all night and was stuck over at her grandfathers place. I went and got her and took her back to my apartment. She was still really drunk despite it being morning now. She started climbing all over me and kissing me. I really had to push her off... and despite being a 'man' I really had to fight her off. Short of hurting her... I had a difficult time stopping her. Then when she saw I was not going to participate... she took off all her clothes and tried her best to get me to sleep with her. I guess I could have picked her up and thrown her out in the hallway... but I was so confused. I was trying to help her ! I just wanted her to stop.

    I had to fight her off for over 2 hours... I felt so sick. I thought I was going to throw up. I felt so hurt and confused. Betrayed. How could this person I loved do this ? I thought she cared about me.

    You know... when I told people, their reaction was not what I expected... even my psychiatrist at the time... he asked me 'Why did I NOT sleep with her ? Was I gay ?'

    I was so disgusted ! Its such a stereotype isn’t it ?

    All I knew was that here was somebody I thought I loved and cared about and they tried to hurt me. And she did hurt me. I was heartbroken. It was only because I was physically stronger than her that we did NOT have 'sex'. Turn the genders around and it would have been called 'attempted rape' would it not ???

    To add to it all... this incident became an additional trigger to my PTSD caused by the childhood sexual abuse. To this day I can’t stand being physically touched by people without having to fight off the flashbacks.

    My wife is the only person who knows about these incidents... besides my former psychiatrist. Even my therapist now does not know. It’s the first time I talked about this in 10 years.

  8. #8

    still suffering from an experience long ago

    For your psychiatrist to have resorted to the ridiculous assumption that because you did not succumb to "leaping into the sack" is unthinkable. He/she should never have said such a thing to you. Nobody likes to be dragged into something they're not ready for. Nobody likes to have their dreams dashed before their eyes. Your reaction, in my opinion, was perfectly normal, healthy, and principled. You should be proud of that decision. The woman was drunk and not acting in her own best interests, or yours. I admire you for seeing this, and for holding to your own moral standards. :o)

    Childhood abuse is a devastating thing. So many absolutes are betrayed: trust, nurturing, love, the sense of being valued as a person...a litany of others. Children do not have the experience to put these things in perspective and learn to assess who is the perpetrator and who is the victim. The child tends to blame themselves. It's the legacy of growing up in a "world of knees", where you must always "look up" to the adults around you and they are in control. Can we then wonder why children who are raised in abusive families seem to fight control issues all their lives? I think it's a natural coping mechanism that sometimes goes awry. Everybody wants to be in control of some part of their lives. Too many children are deprived of even a modicum of decision making.

    Hugs and applause to each of you for being strong enough to see the problem and work to make things right for yourself. You've come through some very rough experiences, and you're still fighting to right the wrongs. That, my friends, is courage. :o)

  9. #9

    still suffering from an experience long ago

    Techie,

    Sorry to hear that you had such a painful childhood. One book that gave me insight into how you and other men experience sexual abuse/assault was: Broken Boys/Mending Men; Recovery from childhood sexual abuse by Stephen D. Grubman-Black. (1990)

    It was one of those books that changed my world view. Very powerful book.

    I recall a presentation by a forensic psychiatrist on violence, saying that sexual abuse occurs in epidemic proportions. His suggestion was to invest in prevention. He suggested that one preventative measure would be screening of early adolescents for signs of becoming a prepretrator and intervene at that stage.

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