The ‘light version’

A year ago, age twenty-seven, I finally gathered the courage to tell my father that I had been sexually abused at the age of twelve. I gave him the ‘light version’, talking about abuse rather than rape and being very careful not to mention the violence. Nonetheless, my father was not the same afterwards. As I’m writing this, I go ‘What were you thinking?! Of course he’s not the same afterwards, you stupid!’. I guess I wasn’t thinking, and I guess that’s a good thing. I don’t regret the day I told my father about the abuse, neither does he.

We sometimes talk about it when we’re together, although admittedly my father never quite makes it through his first sentence without tearing up. He feels an overwhelming pain and loss of control, much like what I felt all these years ago. He also feels immensely guilty for not protecting his twelve-year-old daughter. It’s pretty damn heartbreaking. Yet, I’m grateful for his attempts to share his feelings.

I told him not to feel responsible for what happened. I assured him he’s not to blame, and that these feelings are not helpful, for him ór for me. But, much like me, my father is not that easily convinced. And I’ve come to think that maybe he’s right: maybe his feelings of guilt are justified. He should have protected me, shouldn’t he? At the very least, he should have thought ‘something is not quite right’. Or should he? I was twelve years old and all alone, out there in the hands of a pedophile, while my father toured the country on his road bike. Maybe he’s not to blame, but if I were him I would feel guilty as hell.

The following statements simply don’t add up: 1) I know the abuse was not my fault, and 2) I know I was right to tell my father about it; yet 3) I feel responsible for the pain my father’s experiencing now. There’s very little I can do or say to make it less painful for him, too. It’s been just over a year now since he knows what happened. Me, one year after the abuse, I had stopped speaking all together. It took me the best of fifteen years to get to where I am today. So here’s to patience, courage, and perseverance. Things will get better, one day. I love you, dad.

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6 thoughts on “The ‘light version’

  1. I think it is part of the trauma because I feel this too. As if the very fact that I experienced traumas is something I have to shield others from. Something ingrained into a child at the time. Be quiet, take it in as yours, and the only thing that matters is the comfort of others. I’m 63 and still feel I need to keep quiet to brothers because they do not want to hear or know what their other brothers did because they want to interact with them as if they did not do what they did. I feel victimized and ostracized and worst of all, muzzled and afraid. I have every right to scream out my pain, but I still keep it in because they don’t and won’t hear and act nasty which scares me if I dare even hint at any of my pain and past tragedies when a child
    Guilt won’t help from him. He needs to step up and apologize and not dump his pain on you. We all have to take the hits of our own mistakes. His is that he took off and left you alone. That’s his mistake to live with not yours. You have a right to your anger at his abandonment. And he needs to truly apologize with true sorrow. That’s what I wait for but it never comes. Not from any of them.

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  2. Dear Grace,
    Thank you for sharing. I’m sorry that you feel so little support from your brothers, it sounds suffocating even when I’m only reading your message. I hope you will find the courage to go your own way, regardless of what your brothers decide to believe as the truth.
    As for me, I don’t feel angry or abandoned, really. My dad is extremely supportive and tries to help me in any way he can. He loves me a million and vice versa. He doesn’t need to apologize; his eyes tell me he’s truly sorry. I’m trying to understand what it must be like for him, and I do see why he feels that he should have protected me. But personally, I don’t feel angry and I don’t think it’s his fault. The year of the abuse was a difficult year for all of us. The person to blame is the perpetrator, not my dad.
    I wish you all the best, warm wishes,
    Ana

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  3. I can relate Secret Keeper; if it were easy you would have disclosed your secrets long ago. Me, I do not regret telling my secret. My life changed for the better. I wish for you to have the same experience. All my best,
    Ana

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