Posted: 09 November 2012 at 5:04pm | IP Logged
What you have gone through is really difficult, and I really applaud you for having the courage to survive, acknowledge it, and openly talk about it. I don't think you "need counselling" or anything like that, and I hope you never let anyone condescend to you or blame you for anything.
I think there are a lot of other women like you, who are courageous and who deal with abusive situations in their own way. In your situation, you had the ability to get out of a toxic home, and that is amazing. There might be others who cannot, especially for financial reasons, and they might need other strategies to deal with their situations.
It goes without saying that gendered forms of violence, including sexual abuse, goes in in a lot of communities all over the world. It is not unique to any one ethnicity or society. Unless we are willing to examine the root causes, which include social norms that perpetuate sexism and predatory sexual behaviour, we are not going to be able to deal with social solutions to the problem. I think sometimes we need individual solutions too, but social solutions are about long-term ways of dealing with things collectively rather than in our own isolated bubbles. Women who have been subject to abuse are often in worse situations because of the isolation. It sounds like you went through a lot of that isolation, and that must have been painful too.
I have not been through what you have been through, but when I was a young child, a somewhat distant male relative sexually abused me. At the time I remember feeling very confused and troubled, and definitely bullied by this person. It made me feel weak. For years I felt ashamed and guilty, as if it was my fault, even though I objectively know it was not. It took a long time to get out of that isolation and find the courage to speak to others about it. When I finally opened up about it to other women in my family, they shared their own stories of sexual abuse by relatives or family friends/neighbours. It was really sad to think we had all been through something so horrific, but were silenced into not talking about it with one another and having a strong support network.
You've already seen that there is a lot of silence. I think the best we can do is talk, and put it out there, just like what you have done. I still can't talk about what happened with me with my male family members, including my father. I don't know why. It's like a part of me still feels embarrassed. But another part of it is the obvious sexist values that I know a lot of the men in my family hold.
But I got a lot of support from the women I spoke to, and my mom and sister both fully supported me and cut off all ties with this relative. My significant other shares my feminist values/politics, and that really helped me open up to him about it. He has been really supportive too. I think along the way, we find people who will be in solidarity with us, most importantly, with the kind of world that we want. Those people are out there too, trust me.