I don't even know if this is abuse or not...
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I don't even know if this is abuse or not...

This is a discussion on I don't even know if this is abuse or not... within the Sexual Abuse forums, part of the Mental and Physical Health category; My mother got remarried when I was 11. I was just entering puberty and found that I had a lot ...

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Old 07-12-15, 07:59 PM   #1
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Default I don't even know if this is abuse or not...

My mother got remarried when I was 11. I was just entering puberty and found that I had a lot of trouble dealing with my burgeoning sexuality on top of the fact that my mom and her new husband were being blatant *newlyweds* all over the place.

My mother's husband (I was always loathe to call him a "stepfather") was overly sexual about a lot of things. He had porn mags and liked to watch porn on tv. I know my mother dissaproved of the porn videos because he had to sneak around behind her back. He would always wait until she was at work to watch it (he rarely worked himself). The problem was, sometimes I would be home alone with him when he decided to have himself a party. He would watch it in the living room (the only room that had a vcr, not to date myself) and the house was open-concept, so I couldn't even get to the kitchen to get something to eat when this was going on. Soon I was just outright terrified of him and would spend days in my room without eating because I didn't want to be out there with him, regardless of what he was watching.

I didn't really connect the sexual stuff with a fear of him. I think I was trying to tough, and I figured I just didn't like him. I felt horribly guilty for this because I love my mom dearly, and my disliking her husband hurt her. Sometimes I would try to pull it together and try to have a normal relationship with him, for her sake, but it was pretty impossible. Also, I was starting to be angry at her for putting me in a situation where I was miserable and anxious all the time in my own home.

The stress of living like that really got to me. I developed really bad psoriasis, anxiety and depression - all of which I still struggle with. It was only about a year ago that I again examined the situation and realised how screwed up it was, and that I wasn't feeling dislike towards this guy as much as fear (my mom finally divorced him when I was in my 20s).

I'm unsure how to approach my new perspective on the situation. I discussed it with my counselor and even she is unsure whether to call this sexual abuse. I tried to discuss it with my mom, but she got defensive. She said she found out near the end of her marriage that he was watching porn while I was home and she felt she wasn't a good mother. She would like to leave it in the past, which hurts me because we've always been close and what if I NEED to talk about it?

I would hate to claim sexual abuse in the face of others who have been through much worse than I. But I don't know what to CALL this or how to approach it....
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Old 07-13-15, 03:40 AM   #2
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Hi Just visiting,

Very sad story - the dealings with your mums husband sound hard to have lived through.

As a man, I'm not going to pretend that I haven't seen my share of nudie films. Not going to claim I didn't enjoy them either. But part of being a family man has to mean growing up and leaving that junk behind. I'm not sure if it's in the 'sexual abuse' handbook, as much as it is selfish, in-considerate, unfaithful and most importantly irresponsible.

There is no excuse for that kind of thing - and you have a right to be angry about it. I also think it's good form on your part to not want to hurt your mum by dragging through talking about it with her. A lot of guilt can come from that. From what it sounds like there's not much good that can come from it now. She knows he did it and the pain is not yours or her fault. That being said the pain shouldn't go untreated. Talking to your councillor is the right thing. I'm afraid the only other thing I can offer you is another ear / opinion on the subject.

Again, I'm sorry about the hard times - and I hope things get better! :D
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Old 07-13-15, 12:49 PM   #3
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JustVisiting, Anyone who practices inappropriate sexual behaviour in front of a child is a pervert and it is most definitely a form of abuse. When a child is developing his/her own ideas about sexuality, being confronted by something as blunt as a grown man indulging his sexual appetites can be desperately frightening and make that child feel very vulnerable. Previously the child you were had very little idea about what sex was all about. To see it at its most vulgar, rather than learning that physical relationships happen as a result of a normal, loving and healthy relationship is just too traumatic for a child. The end result will be an over-interest in the perverse side of sex or a total fear of sex. Whichever way you look at it, it has effected your natural development and therefore it has been harmful and abusive to you. So put any feelings of guilt about labeling this man right out of your mind. You were a child and he knew you were there. What kind of a decent man behaves in the way he did?

Not only were you dealing with this but you were trying to maintain your closeness with your mother. You were dealing with issues of feeling pushed away by this horrible man in your mum's life and with feeling guilty because of those perfectly natural feelings.

So it's hardly any wonder, is it, that you are suffering anxiety and depressive episodes, complete with the physical manifestations of all that anxiety and fear tucked deep inside your subconscious mind.

I'm glad that you are getting counselling help although I have to say that your counselor should really know that any negative intrusion of a sexual nature into your young development is a form of abuse. Abuse doesn't just mean a full attack. Abuse can be emotional manipulation and control, bullying and neglect.

JustVisiting that man knew what he was doing. He probably got his kicks from putting you in that situation. That is abuse. Do not let what this horrible, abusive man did to you make you feel guilty or to blame in any way. Do not let him win anymore.

You were a child. Cry for that child and get angry on behalf of that child and the loss of your childhood. You are NOT GUILTY.

Just let this fear of guilt or opening old wounds go. Let it go. Look at it in the face and call it what it was. He was a pervert and he damaged your life.

As for your mum, it is so very hard for you on this one. As an adult and after going through counselling I, too, tried to discuss my childhood abuse at the hands of my father with my mum. It was a bad idea. She went into complete denial and, for a while, my relationship with her suffered. It made me feel like I would always come last, whatever I did or said, even though I am the one she always turns to when she has a problem. So I honestly don't know what to advise or say to you about this part. This is also what abuse does to you, it completely ruins your relationship with other family members, particularly your mum.

All I can really say, JustVisiting, is that you have gone through a really horrible, traumatic youth and I truly hope you are getting the help now to move forward with your life.

Just one last point. I can fully recommend an organisation called "Stepping Stones." They are there for adults who suffered sexual abuse in their childhood. All types of sexual abuse, not just the full sex act. I really think they may be able to help you deal with some of the issues you have suffered.
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Old 07-13-15, 12:58 PM   #4
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Oh I can't believe that the long reply I typed to you has just been lost because I wanted to edit it slightly!
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Old 07-13-15, 04:44 PM   #5
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Thank you to everyone who responded. I feel just being "allowed" to call it abuse is a big step forward for healing for me.

It was always funny - I'm a psych student and was always interested in psychological matters. I always thought it was odd that I displayed all the symptoms of sexual abuse, yet I never thought of anything in my past that could be called as such. Perhaps I was in denial for a long time.
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