Sexual abuse affects every aspect of our being-- physical, social, spiritual, emotional, academic, and personal. This is the story of one woman who has been abused by three individuals from her extended family. It is a story of suffering, pain, and fear. The abuse began at the age of seven and continued into adolescence and the teen years.
I grew up in a typical prairie community with parents and siblings. My life to age seven, when the abuse began, was also typical. My father was a labourer and my mother a housewife. Life was not idyllic, but it was a good life. I enjoyed going to school, playing with my friends in the neighbourhood. and being with my family. It was a comfortable atmosphere in which to grow up.
The first incidents didn't have an immediate effect on me as I was very young. As the abuse continued, it became harder to deal with. It was in grade three, when I was eight years old, that my life came apart. I started to feel isolated, punished for something I must have done, afraid. and worthless. I moved from a happy childhood. enjoying school and having no unusual problems into isolation, fear, and failing at school. I had been a lively, out-going child who enjoyed being with people.
I became withdrawn, alone, and afraid. My parents reacted to this change with anger. They said I wasn't appreciative of what I had. They tried to figure out what was wrong, but I didn't feel they were really reaching out to me. I remained silent.
I began to find it hard to concentrate on my school work. Because of the feeling of isolation, I stopped participating in the classroom. I was afraid to ask for help when I needed it and I began to fall behind the rest of the class. I had lost my faith and the ability to trust adults. I even became embarrassed if I couldn't read new words because I felt that it was part of the punishment for being a bad person. What was happening to me must be my fault.
I was becoming very disturbed about the whole thing. I couldn't talk to my friends, my parents, my siblings, or my teachers. The teacher didn't know what was happening. My parents knew something was wrong, but didn't know how to deal with it. They simply got upset. I never got the hugs and kisses that I desperately needed. I didn't feel my parents were approachable. I felt insecure, isolated, and very alone even when I was with my family. My parents never talked about sex and I was too young to be able to bring it up with them. I'm not sure if they had the necessary knowledge about sex to talk to any of us. It added to the fear because I didn't understand what was happening to me. Because of this, the abuse kept on.