Suicide Prevention/Past won't go away
QUESTION: Hi, I'm a 22 year old female in Australia. I feel because of my past its really difficult to live normally. When I was 10 I was sexually molested by my father's friend and when I was 16 a guy chased me in a shopping centre and wanted me to have sex with him in the bathrooms. I was also stalked by a guy at school who wouldn't leave me alone. Growing up, my father was really abusive and beat me as a child. When I was 15 I knew he looked at porn online and he asked me to make a sex video of myself so he could sell it to people for money. He even told me some daughters and fathers had sex with each other, and sometimes told me the things he did to my mum.
To be clear, men ruined my life. I'm terrified of men. I hate going out because I panic when I see them. I cry nearly every day because I remember my childhood and it makes me angry that I can't go out without being scared. If anything, it wasn't normal. My father got in trouble with the police a more times than I can count but it made me angry that he never went to jail for the things he did. He called my stupid and useless and that I would end up homeless. I went to school, got amazing grades and graduated and never smokes or drank. I stayed at home a lot and had no friends but that didn't bother me. I couldn't see why he hated me. When I lived at home I avoided talking to him for a whole year because I was so angry. Everyone told me to speak to him to keep him happy but I couldn't do it. He ruined whatever possible chance I had of growing up normal and happy.
When I got a boyfriend he slammed me against a wall and punched a hole in the wall beside my head. No one helped me. My mother started standing up to him when I was 17 and he rarely got violent again. I know she was scared but she started to get angry. My mum is a happy and lovely person but I haven't been able to deal with all that abuse like she could. But she never got abused like I did. I also have Asperges and growing up with it was really hard and he made it a lot harder and laughed when I told him I had autism and school was hard for me.
I don't even call him 'dad' anymore. Even saying it in this message is hurting. I'm crying even right now because I still feel this heaviness on my shoulders. Most of my life was torment, but no one else seems to think so. I just appear happy for everyone else's sake. I nearly killed myself once because I didn't know how else the torment could end.
I'm living with my boyfriend now. I met him in high school when I was 15 and he was truly a beacon. He's a lot like me and treats me like I deserve the world. We've been together for 7 years now. But because of my upbringing, I don't feel like I deserve anything I hate having things or buying things for myself. I feel selfish all the time. I don't even have a job because I have anxiety and I'm terrified of talking to people.
Being intimate with my boyfriend is hard because I feel degusting and dirty. He does a lot to cheer me up when I'm upset but I try to hide a lot of my emotions now. When he's slightly angry at something I get scared because I've always had to instinctively protect myself and be prepared to run when a man was angry. Its like it triggers something.
Visiting my mother is difficult because he gets really angry when I visit and threatens to make me leave if I stay too long. I'm still scared and I usually have to leave quickly because he's literally insane and could do anything. My mum isn't scared of him at all and sees nothing in his threats but I can't deal with them like she does. But he doesn't treat her like he treated me. He made it clear when I was a kid that mum was his whole world and I was something in the background. I use to love him when I was a kid and cried when he left for work but that gradually stopped when I saw how little he cared about it and how furious he got at me for the smallest things. I was just a kid, but he acted like I committed a crime. Something like standing in the kitchen or being in my room too long playing with my toys was considered a crime, I guess. He got him real mad. He even told me he favoured my youngest sibling over me. He's done things a father wasn't supposed to do or say!
There's heaps more things he's done in the past, but I think I've typed far too much already. Sorry if this took up any of your time, I get carried away. I spoke to a therapist a couple years ago but I found it pointless because talking about him just made me break down and unable to talk about anything. And at the end of the day I had to go back home where he was waiting for me.
I'm having trouble living a normal life. I don't enjoy life anymore and I don't put any effort into anything and I see no value in myself. As long as he still lives and breathes, I may not to be able to be happy. I don't remember the last time I felt happiness. 14 years old maybe? That's when I noticed how bad it really was. It makes me wonder how amazing I could have been right now if I had grown up without a father. My mother raised me just fine and she taught me well. I'm not sure how to cope like this. Its getting a lot harder because I live out here in the world now and its hard enough dealing with emotional issues. I've tried to talk to my mum for years about it but for some reason she would rarely want to talk about it so I had to suffer alone. My boyfriend takes good care of me and he's probably the only male I've ever trusted completely. Still, being out here and having heavy shoulders is getting to me. I can't take it.
Thanks so much for reading, and again, I apologies for it being so long.
ANSWER: Hi Shauna,
I have just somehow lost the reply I wrote you yesterday and will have to see if I can retrieve it this afternoon. Either way, I'll send it on today. I just wanted to let you know it's on the way, and my sincere apologies for how long it's taken to get back to you! I hope you are doing okay. Please know that you can and will get through this difficult time Shauna, and I'll be there to help you along the way. Speak to you shortly, xRachel
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: That's alright, take your time. Thanks so much for your support.
Hi Shauna, I hope you had a good Christmas and were with people you wanted to be with.. people whose company you feel good about yourself in and not people who are judgemental and critical. That can be hard to achieve on Christmas day when families tend to get together regardless of interpersonal problems between everybody!
Did you see your father? That would have been difficult. The more I think about your situation and what he has put you through, the more I feel outraged on your behalf! The way that he has behaved with you is completely inappropriate, and I do hope you realise that there is NOTHING you could or should have done differently to affect his behaviour toward you. He alone is squarely responsible for his actions. The way in which he has treated you in the past has had a huge part in forming the issues you live with today. It isn't right and it certainly isn't fair! But it happened, and that's something you can't change. How you go forward in your life from this point onward *is* something you have complete control over, and you are going to have to learn how to love yourself from scratch. It will be hard, but there are ways you can stand back and look at your life objectively, in order for you to understand how words and actions said and done many years ago have resulted in the chain of events that have led you to where you are today.
Shauna I feel confident that in time your self esteem issues, anxiety, your despair and unhappiness will all improve, or resolve completely, provided you remain committed to taking charge of your life. You will need to decide on very clear boundaries, and find a code of conduct that feels right to you, standards by which you will choose to live your life by, resolving never to lower those standards or allow into your life those people who can not or will not respect your standards and boundaries! I will work with you to find a counsellor whom you can feel comfortable with, and -
Shauna I'm going to give you my private email address, and if you're comfortable with the idea please drop me a line there and I will continue my reply via email, because although you've marked your letter as not private, what we are discussing is a sensitive matter and best kept confidential due to the subject matter. You can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org. When you write, would you mind telling me a little more about your family.. do you have siblings? Can you tell me more about your relationship with your mother? Does she have any idea about the inappropriate comments your father has made to you and the way in which he has treated you over the years..?
I'd best leave this here Shauna, and will speak with you again soon.
Bye for now, :-) Rachel