For a long time I thought I wore a Triple Crown of Abuse. Child sexual abuse, raped in my early 20s, alcohol-related domestic violence from my first husband. I know I’m not alone in this, far from it. Some people win lotteries, others represent a different type of statistic. Being a woman who was victimized by violence sadly isn’t a rare thing, not yet.
I really didn’t deal with the childhood sexual abuse until I was raped by a stranger in my own little Toyota truck in the parking lot of a bar when I was in college. A man just opened the door and got in. He raped me. I didn’t feel much of anything except my neck and jaw under extreme pain from the way he pinned me down and held my mouth closed. My only thoughts were I can’t breathe, he’s going to break my neck, I’m going to die.
That led me to a rape crisis program. The damn holding back everything from my childhood broke open. I had a breakdown. I’m not exactly sure how I made it from the ages of 21 to 25. Somehow support groups and counselors got me through. I can’t say that friends did, I really didn’t have friends at that stage in my life. With my childhood it took me a long time to trust anyone and to feel safe to tell the truth, two things required of friendship. When there is so much damage it’s hard to see yourself of much use to anyone, anyway.
But I rebuilt my life, somehow. I fell in love with my husband fast. In retrospect I was really inexperienced and flattered by his promises. His alcoholism was obvious, but I told myself once the fun of dating was behind us he’d settle down. I was going to help him. In my deep heart of hearts, I also knew he would never, ever leave me. His sickness made him feel so safe to me, so trustworthy.
It backfired. His rage against himself took shape as rage against me. I became the reason everything had been denied to him. The reason he wasn’t a successful man. The reason he failed. He spit on me, yelled at me, tore me down, got in the way of every possible opportunity that came my way, isolated me, controlled every penny, and overall tried to keep me so tiny I would fit like a pinch inside of a can of tobacco in his front pocket.
I don’t even remember how I managed to leave. I have a lifetime of foggy memory bits, and leaving him about seven years ago is one of them. It feels like an old, fading movie, with clicking sounds instead of a soundtrack. I didn’t even know how bad it was until long after I left. One day I was sitting on my porch after cutting the yard in my new house and it hit me. I’m happy. I was filthy and the air smelled so green and it was a beautiful day…and nothing else. It’s so simple, really, but I had not felt that simple feeling too many times in my life up to that point. It turned out all this time happiness wasn’t a thing, happiness was just the absence of feeling broken. Now I judge everything else by that simple happy feeling and won’t ever give it away.
I don’t know if I’ll ever get married or even fall in love again. I certainly am not looking for a relationship. I know I’ll never have children. I don’t need to win the lottery in money or love or anything material. I just want to feel like everything is behind me. I want to keep my friends and take care of them. I want to help others who have been hurt get safe and feel peace. I just want to live a good life and be happy.
Thank you for visiting Violence UnSilenced, a speak-out platform for survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and sexual abuse. If you are a survivor and it is safe to do so, we encourage you to share your story here. If you are not a survivor but you want to support those who are, please click around this site and find out more about what you can do.
Wow, what an incredibly beautiful and inspiring story. "Now I judge everything else by that simple happy feeling and won't ever give it away." Good for you!!!!!! That's exactly the secret and what we're all striving for. You rock :).
Thank you so much for sharing your story. You are NOT alone! And YAY for you helping others. It's all most of us can do to help with the trauma we have suffered.
What a strong and emotionally evoking testimony. Thank you so much for sharing your story here. You are an amazing person to have endured all of that and you have come out intact on the other side of it. Your words are beautiful and will speak to many people today. I can tell you I will never forget those words you said "happiness is the absence of feeling broken". I know I am still broken in some aspects but it is so encouraging to hear that it will dissipate one day. Thank you again for sharing your story.
Thank you for sharing this. Happiness is such a simple thing once you find it. Feels so elusive when you don't have it.
Geneva, I'm so sorry you went through all of this. Thank you for sharing your story here, so other survivors might take strength from yours.
Wishing you peace, now and in the future.
You have described this all so vividly and so well. Thank you so much for sharing your story. You will help more people than you know.
I have every, every confidence that your new peace will lead you to untold happiness. Your strength as a survivor is a great inspiration. Hugs to you and many thanks for sharing your story.
You're doing great! I can relate to the simple happy feeling you describe after cutting the grass. I haven't been able to move past the "simple happy" you describe, into relationships and more after leaving abuse behind. I think as time goes by there might be more to happiness for you (and me) - like a loving relationship with someone who adores you! Happy Valentine's Day!