Releasing the shame
A #SurvivorStory by Lori
My older brother molested me for as long as I can remember growing up. It started when I was in middle school, when he would sneak into my bed at night and lay behind me as I was sleeping on my side. I would wake up and there would be a wet spot on the bed. I was naive, and so I thought he had wet the bed. He had a history of that. Looking back, I know he was abusing me and getting off. From there, it got worse, especially when we were in high school — he’s not that much older than me. He was not shy about telling others what he was doing, like it was some sort of sick bragging right of his to tell his so-called friends. I can’t imagine why anyone would be impressed to know that you were sexually abusing your sister. He told others it was incest, and I was surprised he knew what it was called. That made me feel like he knew it was wrong. I felt dirty, appalled and embarrassed.
As a result, I retreated and withdrew into myself. I couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to be my friend because I felt like I was worthless. I thought that by withdrawing, I was saving people the trouble of learning what was happening — as if I was an active participant — and deciding they didn’t want to be my friend because of it. I had some friends, but I felt like they were the type of friends who would not dump me because I seemed less than desirable. They didn’t seem like the type of people who always had to impress others. Still, I did not tell them what was happening.
The abuse ended when my brother graduated high school and left the house. I was so happy and relieved to finally have some space to breathe. To go to sleep at night without the fear that he would sneak into my room when I was asleep to abuse me. Yet, even with him gone, it was not easy. I lived in denial of what had happened for years because it was so hard to face the pain. Eventually, I started therapy and told some of my friends how he had abused me. The word “incest” still feels dirty and makes me well with shame. But, I’m working on it. I know that I did nothing wrong. That it was all him.
I am a work-in-progress, and I share my story to heal. I also share it to connect with others who may have experienced the same thing, so that they may feel that they are not alone.
We are all worthy of so much more than our past, of what our abusers made us feel about ourselves. Letting go of the shame of what they did and allowing ourselves to truly write the next chapters of our lives — ones that are full and happy — that is the best way to triumph and to show our abusers that they can no longer hold us back.