…a secret place and don’t tell anyone”

For most 3 year olds this would have been exciting, for me it was the start of 8 years of sexual abuse.

I remember these words like they were spoken to me this morning.

The detail is not for here and maybe never for anywhere other than my distant and sometimes blocked out memory.

I wanted to share more about the impact that this has had and how I feel I have coped and overcome such a confusing, emotional and vile thing.

It was around the age of 5 that I think I started to develop an emotional attachment to food. Looking back, no one seemed to notice my weight gain or think that it was odd. I was constantly told I was ‘big boned’ or it was just ‘puppy fat’. I took comfort in my food, it made me feel better and I hid myself behind my weight – thinking that no one would notice me, especially not guys. I learnt to cope with any kind of negative emotion, by eating. This set me up for years of over eating.

I felt unable to tell anyone, as it wasn’t until I was around 8 that I realised that there was something seriously wrong with what was happening. I had all these mixed up feelings that I didnt know what to do with – it was an extremely confusing time. I don’t think even now I could tell you what those feelings were. I thought I would be in serious trouble. Why would anyone believe me? It would be my word against his.

I distinctly remember in junior school two policemen coming into to our class to give a talk about people ‘touching us’ and telling us to ‘keep it secret’ – it was a very bewildering time. I have no idea what stopped me saying anything, I guess I was scared I would get into trouble or that I would stand out from the crowd; I sat tight and didn’t say a word.

Another time I was at a friends house, I must have been 8ish and she was trying on clothes and wanted me to. I refused to the point of crying, as I was convinced if she saw any part of me without clothes on, she would be able to tell what had been happening and I would be in trouble or even laughed at.

This brings me back to my earlier post “the fat funny friend, of the slim pretty girl”. I had no real clue how big I was; it kind of felt comfortable! I think from my earlier conditioning I believed I was ‘just this way’ and therefore didn’t think I could change it. I used humour as a way for people to like me, and quite often would make fun of myself, as it seemed to lessen the blow of anyone else doing it. I struggled with people hugging or kissing me, and to some extent still do to this day as I feel really quite awkward – I am obviously ok with Mark doing this ;)!

I hated myself for what was happening, then when it stopped I hated myself for not being able to say anything; I blamed myself for not being able to speak out. What was wrong with me? I’ve often imagined myself telling my parents and others close. The only way I have ever been able to imagine this is some dramaticed way! I could not explain to anyone how I felt and until the moment I published this blog, less than a handful of people know.

I dealt with it by blocking out all positive emotion, I wouldn’t cry, I didn’t really feel love, I did feel frustration and aggression quite alot. By the time I was 16 I became obsessed with how my hair and make-up looked and showering, this was also partly for being teased at school. There was a time when I wouldn’t go out of the door without make-up on and if I hadn’t had 2-3 showers a day, then I couldn’t go out also.

It wasn’t until I moved out of home at 21, to a flat that I shared with one of my friends, that I started to be more conscious about my size. Whilst I always knew I was big, it was only after a traumatic experience on holiday in 2000 I knew enough, was enough! After months of comfort eating I had ballooned to a MASSIVE 19st 9lbs. More about my weight loss journey in a future post :)!

Why now?

I have thought long and hard about whether this is the right thing to do; writing about it. I believe it is. For the past 31 years I have lived with this everyday, it is part of who I am, and this post has only scratched the surface as to the impact that it has had. In order for me to be able to move on and leave it behind I have be ‘at peace’ with it in my own mind. Am I seeking justice?

Quite simply, no! I have no intention of ‘outing’ the person, or ruining the life they now have. Whilst I could argue that they have ruined mine, I know that they have to live with it every single day, and perhaps sometimes it keeps them awake at night – that is probably punishment in it’s own right. I, on the otherhand, can use it to make me stronger and perhaps at some stage, help others who have been through a similar experience.

So, why now? I have learnt a lot about personal development over the last few years. I have learnt not to take things personally and to live with gratitude. In order to move on I need to accept that it happened and disassociate myself from it. In this sense, I have no reason to feel ashamed or guilty! I now know that this WAS NOT ABOUT ME, it was about whatever sexual gratification he needed, not what I was doing, or saying, or wearing or because I was a bad child or because I deserved it – IT WAS ALL HIM; no-one else. Although, I know this, separating myself from this has been extremely difficult and in this sense, I feel I’m right at the starting blocks!

“I am not what happened to me, I am who I choose to become” Carl Jung

Yours in letting go…
Sarah xXx