Step One — Question One: Did you keep your abuse a secret.
Part II (Trigger Warning)
After processing the first half of this question, I started to see the different levels of secrecy.
Not only did I keep the abuse a secret from outsiders, but I also kept it a secret from my perpetrators.
As a teenager, my brother's sexual abuse always happened in the middle of the night while I was asleep. I would wake up to him touching me, while touching himself and verbalizing his fantasy. I would pretend to stay asleep through the whole thing — as if I had no knowledge of what he did to me.
My dad, a lot of his abuse happened while I was awake, but one of his MO's was to carry me out of my bed during the night and bring me to his where he would abuse me. During these instances, again, I would pretend to stay asleep and to be oblivious of what he had done to me.
My uncle who abused me on several occasions when he got me alone, had other ways of using me in everyday situations and again, I would pretend to be oblivious to what he was doing. One example would be of a time I was at his house, standing in the middle of the living room holding and petting his cat. He walked up to me, started talking to the cat and then petting it. After petting the cat's head a couple of times, he began to pet the cat on it's side that was pressed against my chest. Sliding his hand between the cat and my chest and petting me more than the cat. He would always wear short shorts with no underwear and let himself hangout and watch me to see if I would look. He had a lot of odd ways of being openly sexual towards me. Again... I would pretend to be oblivious.
By pretending to not be aware of these things, I kept the abuse a secret from the very people who were abusing. I protected them. I took all the guilt and shame that should have been theirs and made it mine.
Part III will touch on two other layers of secrecy...