This guest post was originally published on Behind The Mask Of Abuse in June of 2013. Since that site is no longer around, I’m posting it here.
It did not occur to me until a few years ago that being promiscuous as a teen was related to abuse. Isn’t that weird? I never put it together that the reason that I was so sexually indiscriminate, and even became a prostitute, was because I was sexually abused as a child. That was a big smack in the face once I realized it, but realizing it helped me conquer it.
It’s always a betrayal when you realize that yet another thing that you do or did is the result of abuse. It’s another tiny knife in the back. It makes you wonder who you really are. If this and this and even this are a result of abuse, then who the hell am I?
A lot of us are struggling to find our identities without abuse. We are blind to our own motivations. We are sometimes blind to the motivations of others and fall right into the trap of abuse again. I didn’t see a monster as a monster and I ended up in an abusive relationship that I might not have been in were it not for child sexual abuse.
Abuse is a continual cycle. It doesn’t go away once the physical abuse stops. For those of us who were victims as children, it is so woven into our personalities, that it’s nearly impossible to separate it out. We grew our personalities around the abuse like a tree grows around something embedded in its trunk; it’s all interconnected. We do not have a sense of who we really are and every line drawn to abuse is another punch in the gut.
The good news is that we’re here to talk about it. We survived. We have all the time in the world now to safely sort it out. I can put promiscuity, substance abuse and self-harm in a box labeled abuse and never touch it again. Lucky for me, that’s mostly what I’ve done, at least, with those issues. But, humans are complicated creatures and it’s not as simple as that. Some things can’t be easily removed from the whole.
Some victims of abuse aren’t even trying to sort themselves out. They’re living in denial. I was once one of those people. Child victims of abuse might even go on to become abusers themselves. I cannot abide that thought, so I have chosen not to have children. I would rather not have children at all than risk turning into an abuser myself. As irrational as that may be, it’s my choice to protect the children I will never have.
For every person in denial, there are many more who are cognizant of what we went through. We are trying not to be victims. We are trying to squeeze things neatly into boxes and figure out who we are without abuse. It’s not easy and we are constantly pulling threads only to find that they lead back to abuse, but we keep going, because it’s damn well better than the alternative.