Sexual abuse can happen to anyone: men, women, or children. It can happen with a close friend, a significant other, or a stranger. It leaves a scar that can’t be erased within the mind and soul of the victim. It can lead to depression, post traumatic stress disorder, and other problems. For someone who is struggling with mental illness, it can send him or her further into the depth of his or her dark hole. People with mental illness can be easy victims of abusers.
When my cousin died my senior year of high school, I turned to a friend for comfort. While I slid further into my hole of darkness, I became more and more needy. I began to put my friend on a pedestal. I thought she was the best friend in the world. I felt as if I couldn’t live without her. I didn’t have too many friends growing up. I lost many friends due to them moving away or the friend turning his or her back on me, but this time my friend was sticking at my side. I needed her and I believed without her I would be a nobody again.
I had been struggling with a sadness within me throughout my childhood, but when my cousin died the grief pushed me further into the deepest depth of my dark hole. My friend began to tell me we had a special friendship. We did things that other friends did not do, but it was okay. Inside I knew it was wrong, but I went along. I couldn’t lose another friend. I couldn’t face these awful feelings within me without her help. I wanted to believe what we were doing was right.
The friendship continued into my college years. I struggled with my attachment to my friend and the feelings of guilt, disgust, self-hate, and anguish. Afterwards, I would sit in a shower and cry. I couldn’t stand the feeling of being in my own skin. Every day I went to see my friend, I’d throw up. When my friend finally walked away, I realized what she had done to me was abuse. I became angry at myself for allowing it to happen. I thought it was my fault. I should have said no. I should have been strong enough to walk away.
Years later when my boyfriend began to do things to me I didn’t like, I again fell victim to abuse. I also held onto the relationship tightly despite what was happening until he kicked me out. I wasn’t sure if my illness blinded me to the sexual abuse or I just didn’t want to admit what was happening to me.
The abuses left scars on my soul and mind. I had bad dreams of what they did to me. I blamed myself, I hated myself, and I lost trust in myself. How could I allow this stuff to happen to me? Why did I allow people to abuse me in such away? What kind of person was I? Why didn’t I stop them?
My therapist told me I was not to blame;, I was a victim. My friend and ex-boyfriend took advantage of me when I was most vulnerable. My therapist had me write letters to the people who harmed me and in them I spilled out my feelings. I told them in my letters what I thought of them and how I felt about what they did to me. Then I burned the letters. I burned the letter to my friend at the spot she mostly took advantage of me. Then I began to discuss the abuse with my therapist. I had to forgive myself and accept I was not at fault.
You never completely forget, but once you accept your own innocence, you slowly put it behind you and you begin to heal. You can go on with your life after sexual abuse. It takes time, but you can learn to trust again, forgive yourself, and build new relationships. Remember, you are not to blame for what others do to you.
I still, once in a while, have bad dreams, but I don’t let them ruin my life. Because I have trusted again, let go of my self-blame, allowed myself to heal, and am now in a very loving marriage, I stand within the light.