My battle began when I was very young. Too young to comprehend the nightmare that was happening. Too young to know that it was wrong. Too young to believe that it wasn’t my fault. He was my father after all – the one man entrusted to care for me and show me who I was in the world.
I was confused by the disparity of what he taught me; tangled in a web of what I experienced privately and publically. He would touch me like no man should touch his daughter, then hug me in a profoundly loving and safe way. He would flirt with me, make comments about my growing body and then cheer on the sidelines as I enjoyed academic and sporting successes. He showed me pornography, exposed himself to me and these provocative images interwove themselves into visions of a happy family who went to church every Sunday.
The terror had no time-frame. I was never sure when or if it would happen. But I was afraid…always afraid. In the morning, I hesitated to shower or bathe, knowing that he may decide to join me. At night, I was afraid to lay down in bed, anticipating the suffering that could happen if he walked in the door. During the day, it was avoiding being alone with him for fear of how I might be touched or what may be said. Even as an adult, the fear was palpable and penetrating, until I finally disconnected in the most permanent way I knew how: legally.
As a teenager, the destruction of sexual trauma found me multiple times again. I was promiscuous and sold myself as a body to be used. Rape became something I expected – and something I never fought the multiple times it happened. I made it clear to men around me that I wouldn’t say no. Their actions were not my fault, but I didn’t care enough to let it affect me. I would be brutally raped, then get up the next morning and pretend nothing had happened. I had my box where I put all of those times and when I shut the lid, I thought I was done with it.
To survive, I taught myself it didn’t matter…
I taught myself that I didn’t matter.
“I have no value”, that thought repeated itself and went unquestioned. To begin to ask the questions was to engage a fierce internal debate that ultimately resulted in despair. I decided that if all of this could happen in my life, then the lies must be true for me.
My father was my gauge, my plumb line, for what I meant to men and the world. I learned from him that I wasn’t worth decency, honor or respect. I felt defined by my victimization – and I let that definition of who I was determine my interactions with other men. My life was a secret and I let my mind, soul and heart live divided between the “real” me: the girl who was hurt and ashamed; and the “pretend” me: the woman who appeared to have it all together.
Until the day I gave up holding on to this image I lived under the tyranny of my father. Until I exposed my secrets, his power had no end. When I finally broke the silence, the transformation began and the parts of myself that I put into the box were redeemed. There is no question that the pain and grief continue. But now I can agonize, knowing that someone is listening. I no longer suffer alone and in silence. I have a voice and a God who longs to hear it. This gives me the strength to keep breathing and fighting another day.
The Last Battle Blog aims to provide meaningful tools and information about the issue of sexual violation. We offer a way to express yourself, as you engage in your own personal awareness and share your strengths with others. Our goal is to cover a variety of topics, stories, ideas, and to create a blog that is beneficial and honoring to those who read it. Last Battle’s contributing authors help make this happen.