I feel inspired to share my experience of Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA) in the hope that it is seen and understood by the people who, like me, felt alone in their experience.
I found a great deal of compassion and acceptance for what happened to me by reading about other peoples expereinces — and so I hope that this can, in some way, contribute to the knowledge and experience that has been shared by others.
I may be biased, but I think that CSA is one of the most despicable violations of childs’ human rights that any adult can commit. With the exception of murder, it takes away a childs’ right to experience their body in a way that they would choose for themselves.
I consider myself lucky to have reached an age of puberty before my body was abused in this way and feel a deep sense of compassion and empathy for the men and women out there who didn’t have an opportunity to enjoy their bodies as children in a way they might have wanted to.
The most sinister element of the abuse for me was the grooming. It was what made the experince so dark — feeling like I couldn’t say anything to anyone about what was happening because I felt like I was the one who was instigating it.
I was made to feel like I was the one seducing him, even though I was only a young teenager at the time and he was married in his thirties. I felt like I was responsible for what was happening to me.
Through his words and actions I was convinced that it was all my fault, and even though I didn’t like it, I put up with what he did to me because I believed I had brought it onto myself.
At the time I felt like I had no choice but to put up, and shut up.
The abuse lasted for about a year or so, from what I can remember; and I carried so much guilt and shame around with me that I felt like the world could never accept me for who I was.
Everything appeared dark and completely out of touch for me. I could no longer relate to my friends when they talked about their excitement of kissing boys when I knew that every part of my body had been violated by this man in his desire for me. Instead of feeling like a confident child who had so much to live for, I felt like an abomination. Wasted. Impure. Corrupted and defiled. Destined to live outskirts of society — never being accepted, never feeling loved and never free from what had happened to me.
This sense of feeling like an outsider was dominant in my life for a long time and only now am I beginning to feel a sense of belonging from within myself.
It took a long time to heal from being sexually abused— almost two decades, and it required an understanding from within that what had happened to me was wrong. I had to first become aware that the experience was abusive — even though it wasn’t violent, or overtly oppressive. I had to accept within myself that I was raped in a way that was manipulative and insidious and it was this understanding that brought a sense of relief, self-compassion, empathy and healing.
I had to realise that what happened had not been my fault — beyond being present in a circumstance from which I was vulnerable enough to be abused. I came to understand that the logic and understanding I used at the time to make sense of the situation was formulated within the mind of a child. How could I possibly expect myself to have understood the situation from a mature perspective when I hadn’t yet to gone through the process of becoming an adult? I found in this realisation there was healing and compassion.
I found freedom in being able to talk about my experience and realised that the CSA felt so dark because I thought I had to keep it to myself. That it was shameful to talk about it with others. That I was betraying my abuser by doing so. I did find it difficult to open up at first, but over time — and through talking about it with highly supportive people I’ve been able to find a sense of being at peace with what happened. I can see now that it doesn’t define who I am and what I am capable of in life.
I found a supportive counsellor who offered space and helpful guidance so I could navigate my way through the minefield of conditioned thinking in order to find clarity, and an awareness of how these thoughts had been holding me back.
I found a spiritual understanding that allowed me to make peace with my experience and to see the man who abused me as worthy of my forgiveness, love and understanding. I would never want to see him again, or experience him as a part of my life, but I realised that in forgiving him I was free of him — and of the experience from ever holding me back in living my life to the fullest.
I found clarity and an understanding for myself that this was the only way I ever going to feel truly healed, well and free to love.
By understanding what had happened the world appeared less dark to me. I felt like less like an abomination and more like someone who had endured a difficult trauma. I felt like someone who could tell my story in the hope that it might guide others to find peace, understanding, self-love and forgiveness in their journey of healing, hope and acceptance.
I started to feel like someone who could live whole, free and open to seeing what else life might have in store for me.
I started to live like someone who could love herself.
Lots of love, Shaneen x
(I understand that each journey is unique and so accept that my experience may not look anything like anyone elses. If you have felt negatively impacted in any way by my story, and would like someone to talk to someone about it I highly recommend reaching out to rapecrisis.co.uk
They can offer signposting and support for you in navigating your experience of CSA and recovery.
Lots of love x)