Not long before I first spoke out about what I experienced as an 11 year old I would find myself having visual flashbacks of what had happened to me – usually while driving. The flash backs really only started happening early last year actually and thought nothing of it.
There were some family things going on and my anxiety immediately kicked in and I was really concerned about my mental health and that I needed to figure out a way to manage my every day stresses. So what did I do about my anxiety? I booked an appointment with a psychologist.
A few weeks later I found myself in the room with my psychologist and we were talking about mental health and if there was any history of mental illness in the family. It was a great concern of mine that with stress at work and my inability to just really take a breather and mentally tap out of stress that I too would succumb to some sort of mental disorder.
“We’ve got ten minutes left of our session, is there anything else you would like to talk about? Anything that’s been on your mind?”
“I kind of just had a fleeting thought just then to be honest. I haven’t raised it with anyone before. But, I remember my brother performing oral sex on me when I was 11 and then we would watch porn together and I would help him get off”
I was so scared to even let the words leave my tongue. I felt like I was going to be the one that got in trouble? Yet, I had done nothing wrong.
She was kind of shocked that this all just came out in our first session, however she wasn’t surprised it came out with 10 minutes to go – as she later stated “A lot of clients will let something out right at the end of the session.. sometimes so they don’t have to deal with it for the hour”
It was at this point, the first time I had ever spoken out aloud of this that she just said to me, plain and simple..
“You have been a victim of sexual abuse, thank you so much for having the courage and trusting me with that. You are a very brave person”
It was as if my heart and head had just sunk into the seat. What she said wasn’t really a surprise of mine.. but more something I wish just wasn’t the case and that I hadn’t accepted? I didn’t want my experience to be that. My own brother? How could he? Why? Why me?
I was a week away from going on a trip with my girlfriend.. we had been dating for 4 months, known each other for a bit longer and left the session with “you’re a victim of sexual abuse”.. I had absolutely no idea what to do with those words. Nor did I want to tell anyone until I figured out what the best approach was. My psychologist knew she was the only one that I had told and did encourage me to tell my family but didn’t push me.
I remember my girlfriend and I were driving through some very long and dark roads to get to where we were going (in the middle of Tasmania) she was asleep – classic – I was so far in my head I was making myself go crazy. I really had this urge just to wake her up and tell her everything. But I felt like the timing just wasn’t right? We are on holiday.. dating for four months? That’s nothing to tell a girlfriend.. especially someone that likes you! What triggered me on this trip was we were watching one of those true crime shows on Netflix and a criminal was ‘hypnotised’ into telling the police how he was abused by his mother. When I internalise things my heart rate goes through the roof – and she noticed and asked if everything was okay – I said yes.
The day after we got to our accommodation, she noticed the heart rate increasing again. Her hand around my chest as we just layed in bed. She asked again. I kind of paused..
“There something that’s been on my mind.”
You know, I wanted to tell her for two reasons: 1. I needed to confide in someone and 2. I wanted her to know the truth so that if she wanted an opportunity to exit this relationship now was the time and I would be okay with that.
“I’m telling you this now because we are still early in our relationship and I feel like it’s the right thing to do. I don’t want us to get closer and closer and me tell you this cause I don’t think thats fair. But I remember when I was younger that my brother gave me oral sex and… as per above”.
She just held me.
“I’m so sorry” she said while she just let me lay in her arms.
I felt loved, cared for, but vulnerable.
And thats how abusers make you feel in your adult years; vulnerable.