[Trigger warning again - this is about sexual abuse, I use sexual abuse words, I don't abbreviate or use some dictionary words to tone it down]
I have no idea where to start and a good portion of me doesn't want to start. But I'm in a better place this evening than I have been in a couple weeks so I figure now is the best time (whether I like it or not).
I had my first flashback in 1996. I was in my second year of post-graduate studies. I was in my apartment getting ready for class when - what - how do you describe it - a window opened, a door opened, a screen was pulled back in my mind - revealing a memory of sexual abuse involving my dad and my older brother. In this particular memory I was about 5 or 6 years old and my dad was having my older brother, who was about 7 or 8 years old at the time, fellate me. [it feels like cheating to type fellate - what the hell is that - dad was making my older brother suck me].
Mind you at this time when I had this first flashback in 1996 - I wasn't in therapy, I wasn't studying therapy or counseling or anything even remotely related to therapy or memories or anything. I wasn't trying to remember anything - I was just getting ready for class. I didn't remember anything until that point in time - I didn't have a single memory of sexual abuse. So when this memory just popped open in my mind I had no idea why it was there or what to do with it - I was stunned, scared, a little angry - a lot of things.
I began therapy later that year but had to switch therapists after I moved out of state upon completing my degree. I began my first full phase of therapy in the summer of 1997. I have had many more flashbacks since then - some I'd rather not remember but I have to accept them to honor the child that suffered.
I know now my dad started the abuse by effectively grooming my brother and I. He began my having us play naked games or by posing for photos by exposing ourselves in various ways. It progressed into him having my brother and I do sexual things with each other in front of him, primarly masturbation and sucking.
Then, for some reason, it was just me. I remember a time he came to our room (my brother and I shared a room) and he was taking me with him to his room. I wanted to take one of my stuff animals with me to his room. I remember my brother begging dad to let me take a stuffed animal with me. He belittled me for wanting a stuffed animal and told me not to be so childish. I was about 7 years old.
He would molest me and eventually exposed himself to me. I had to masturbate him and eventually had to suck it. I didn't know how to leave my body at the time. I didn't know how to disassociate - I was eight - I just tried to think of something else or tried to do it poorly enough that he would have to most of the work so it would be over sooner.
During this time it became a pretty regular thing for him to call me into the house while I was out playing with friends or take me from my bed at night. I remember after one session of abuse, I'm walking out of his bedroom, I have my hand on the doorknob and he says, "Remember, if you tell anyone, I will kill you."
My dad told me he would kill me. He was a doctor. He was a powerful, wealthy man. He knew people. I'm around eight years old. I know he could kill me. And as I leave his room I say, "I know dad, I know." I think to myself - but you won't kill me, there's no escape.
My most recent flashback completed a memory I've had for quite a few years that just didn't make much sense. I previously had a flashback that I was in a room with another boy I didn't recognize - there were other people there too. The boy and I were naked. The boy had this totally distraught look on his face and I didn't know why he was so sad. I remember wanting to make him not sad but I couldn't.
The memory was completed last week in a flashback I'd rather give back: my dad and the boy go to another room and I'm left with two men I don't know. One holds me down by my arms and chest, the other one rapes me. I was nine or ten years old. I still didn't know how to disassociate or leave my body. I remember it. I remember it. I remember thinking 'they are trying to kill me, I'm going to die, why do they want me dead?' I remember it felt like I was going to die, that the pain was so much that I wouldn't last long.
My oldest (chronologically speaking) memory of sexual abuse - I'm 12 or 13 years old, we are at home in his bed, I'm naked, he's naked. We are under the covers. He tells me to come closer, I barely move. He tells me to come closer again, I barely move again. He tells me to come closer and grabs me by an arm and leg and jerks my whole body to him. He rapes me. I left my body. I don't know how a child learns to dissociate or leave their body but finally I did. I was about six feet above the bed, I looked down and saw him fucking me and thought - I'm not watching that and I stared at the ceiling.
My dad died in 1992 when I was in college. At the time of his death I didnt' remember any of the sexual abuse. I never forgot the physical abuse but I called it corporal punishment and, at that time, I regarded it as what parents have to do to raise children who respect adults.
When he died, he was my dad. He wasn't my abuser. He wasn't my molester. He wasn't one of my rapists. He was my dad, he died and I wept. I've never cried like that since. I've very rarely cried at all since his funeral.
He had been dead for four years before I had my first memory.
The first person I shared my flashback with was my girlfriend in 1996. She's my wife of ten years now and she's been there all along, through everything. It makes me angry to see her suffer for what he did to me. It's like he's not dead when he gets to continue to cause me and my loved ones pain.
I did about 8 years of therapy from 1997 to 2005. During that time I did some group therapy as well. I had a brief stint back in therapy sometime in 2006 or 2007.
Two weeks ago I have my first "emotional" flashback. My therapist always said, when I spoke of my abuse, it was like I was reading a weather report or quoting stock prices - no affect. Well two weeks ago the emotions of those eight some years of abuse came to the surface.
After so many years of therapy, to have one flashback so completely demolish me - I could barely function in the first week. I had that other flashback last week - the one of the other two men. It wasn't my first flashback of being raped, it was my first flashback of being raped and being in my body during it.
I've told my therapist I will do anything now - any therapy, any exercise, anything - accupuncture, muscle therapy, massage therapy, neuro-emotional therapy - you name it, I will try it. I'm back in therapy and more determined than ever.
My wife and I have two sons. Our oldest son is five years old. I know I will never harm my children like my dad harmed us - but that's just not enough. I want to be a loving, nourishing, fun-loving dad that teaches my sons to be strong and yet sensitive. I want my sons to know joy and see it in me. I want the world for my children and I want to be part of that world, to be present in that world.
I have to survive and I hope to thrive.
I have to survive and I hope to thrive.
Alumni Dahlonega WoR May 2010
Alumni Sequoia WoR March 2012