I'm writing to your forum in the hopes of asking people questions to see if I am a survivor of sexual abuse. I'm not even sure myself, although, as I think about my life it is increasingly looking like I am. Here's why:
My first son was recently born and just prior to that, and since then, I have been doing a lot of soul searching, trying to figure out why I am so 'screwed up' and hoping that it is not genetic and that he won't end up the same way as me.
I had been giving a lot of thought to my childhood which was, to be perfectly blunt, not a happy one. It has been no secret that it was a dysfunctional one... my father was an alcoholic whose drinking took a turn for the worse by the time I was 12 and who eventually split for good when I was 14 or 15. We lived an upper-middle class lifestyle, my dad had worked for IBM, and we moved around a lot throughout me growing up:
I was born in Seattle -> Lived in area for 2 years
Moved to Connecticut -> Lived there for one year
Moved to Massachussets -> Lived there for approx. 4 years.
Moved to Danville, California -> Lived there for two years
Moved to Dublin, California -> Lived there for two years
Moved to Kent, Washington -> Moved there at age 12, lived there for 4 years
Since then have lived in various cities/suburbs in Washington.
The reason I am explaining all of this is because I have, in the past, regarded my dilemma as being a result of moving around a lot and having an alcoholic father. Logically, it explains some things:
1. Why I had developed a drinking problem in adult life myself - My father was an alcoholic.
2. Why I am so lousy in human relationships - I moved around a lot at a young age and never had long-term friendships, hence, acquired poor social skills.
During my childhood period, too, on and off I had been seeing counselors/shrinks/psychologists. Apparantly this was for being hyper-active and I had even taken ridilin for it. For the longest time, I have viewed this as further proof that I was just some sort of 'bad egg'. Hence, even greater concern for my newborn son - Is this hereditary? Will he have the same life problems as me?
Not long ago, I began giving my past, especially my childhood, a new look. Interestingly enough, I have found that the roots of my problems ultimately lie in that of a human relations problem. In otherwords, I don't connect/relate/bond with other people well and this has been the crux of the matter since as far as I can remember in life -- whether it be elementary school, junior high school, college, work, etc... ultimately I need to escape from that environment because of my own crippled human relation skills. Bear in mind that people around me aren't aware of this. I have always kept this a secret because for some reason revealing that I have a 'people problem' is a source of much shame so others assume that it was some other external issue or reason that I switched/changed/quit something.
It is in the honest assessment of myself that I have a human relations problem that I began suspecting if I had perhaps experienced a sexual molestation/assault/whatever in my young years. The reason for this being that I have heard and read before that a person who is sexually abused at a young age can have a severely negative impact on how they interact/bond with other people... on all levels... especially with regards to intimacy.
Amid some deep thought, I have recalled things that haven't been so obvious before.
For example -
1. I remember that a counselor that I was seeing in Massachussetts, an older lady I recall, was talking to me about penises.
2. I remember as early as the third grade that my anus was irritating me, regularly, and my mother putting vaseline on it to sooth it.
3. I remember how I felt different from everyone else - even at a very young age.
4. I confronted my mother about my past and basically said to her that there is more to my childhood than meets the eye. I told her that I believe that there was more to me having problems then than some bio-chemical imbalance. She relayed to me that there was an incident in Massachussetts involving what a group of boys had done to me. The two counselors I saw in Massachuseets were aware of it, the ones in California and beyond were not. I dont remember the incident at all. Most of my child hood, especially the earlier years, are somewhat blank.
At this point I need to mention my mother - she comes from a background where 'no-no's' are hush hush and public appearances are everything. She is a nice lady.. she is also a complete airhead dingbat. She has always felt guilty about me and I have had anger in me towards her... ever since childhood. Why exactly I am unsure but as I put the puzzle together I'm beginning to think as I type this that my anger towards her at such a young age may stem from me believing that she somehow betrayed me or failed to protect me. Simply put, knowing how my mother is, I am cautious about her interpretation of reality and reality's consequences.
I'll briefly cover a few things from adulthood:
My first lasting relationship with a female, Tricia, from the age of 17 to 19, was of little substance intimacy/relationship wise but highly sexual. It ended by her coming to the conclusion that I had problems and that I needed to learn to 'love myself'. Outwardly I was in denial of this, but deep down I knew she was right and I also knew, or thought, that there was nothing I could do about it.
My reaction to this breakup event was anything but normal. In fact, it is at this point in time when it became undeniably obvious that I had problems. I literally erased her from my life by switching schools, returning/throwing away anything she had given me, and destroying anything that reminded me of her. I became increasingly depressed as the weeks past, was having suicidal thoughts, and whatever control over my life I did have before was vanishing. For anyone observing this... my reaction to this breakup was notably abnormal.
My mother was insisting that I should go into a hospital and I ended up doing that. For two weeks in the psych unit of the local hospital - a unit for people who are suffering from short-term depression. I had met a girl while I was in there and we started hanging out together. Ironically, she looked and reminded me a lot of the ex-girlfriend. One night, in the hospital, we had made arrangements to have sex. And we did. One of the staff caught us after the fact. The next day, as a result of me opening my mouth to another counselor, the police became involved because the girl was 15 years old and I was 19. I ended up being discharged from the hospital. I later contacted an attorney and he wrote a letter to the police saying that my statement is no good because I was on medication at the time. The charges were dropped (or never even filed).
Upon leaving the hospital, I began to drink alcohol and attend college party's literally every weekend. During this period, I had mentioned the ordeal at the hospital to another fellow named Jerry, someone I hardly knew (this will be more relevant later).
One night, on April 1st of 1988, less than two months since I left the hospital, there was a dance at the community college. After the dance there was a bunch of partying and drinking going on at an apartment complex occupied by quite a few students. By the wee hours of April 2nd, most of the people were pretty schnockered, including me. At one time I had gone into one of the apartments and there was a girl about my age that was either sleeping or passed out drunk. I started kissing her and she responded. The horn to my car was honking so I went outside to find Ken (my sisters boyfriend) in the car wanting to go. I told him I didn't want to leave and to wait. I went back up to the apartment and knocked on the door. The girl answered and went back to where she was lying down - she was clearly drunk. I began kissing her again and we ended up having sex. Ken eventually honked the car horn again, I left the apartment, and we drove home. I ended up driving back to the apartment to spend the night with this girl. Lying down with her I ask her what her name is and she tells me. Then I ask her if she knows my name, she says yes, that my name is Dave. My name is not Dave. I begin to realize that I should leave. As I'm getting dressed to leave, one of her girlfriends who was partying in another apartment comes in. She is startled to see me and says that I should leave. I end up leaving. The next day I leave a rose at her door with a note of apology if I caused her any trouble.
The irony is that Jerry (from earlier) is part of these peoples social group. Rumors begin to surface within their group that I 'raped a child in a mental institution'. The girl eventually pressed charges against me. I also ran into the Dave fellow once on campus and I tried to explain that the rumor was greatly exxagerated and nowhere near as bad as how it was being relayed. Because I did that, and because he told the prosecutor, that case was re-opened.
The trial never took place because on the day of trial, when I was 20, the prosecutors offered a plea bargain. The charges were 3rd Degree Rape (unforced sexual intercourse without a persons consent) and 3rd Degree Statutory Rape (Sex with a minor between age of 14 and 16). Both are classified as non-violent class C felonies. By this time I was a complete mess - showed all of the signs of a middle-to-late stage alcoholic, depression, suicidal thoughts and ideas, etc.
The judge did not want to sentence me to jail. The original sentencing plan was to do some sex counseling program. I attended one session and decided jail is what I'll do. So I went to jail for 8 months - 4 months in jail, 2 months in pre-release, and 2 months in work release. At the age of 21, in Februrary of 1990, I finished serving my sentence.
From then on, life only got worse. There were times where I had brief periods of 'doing okay' but the trend was definitley downwards. I still had all of the issues and problems from the time I was with Tricia, including before that... and it was getting worse: The additional demands and expectations as a result of being an adult, the psychological/emotional damage and baggage from the past (both recent and not so recent), my own options in life diminishing, etc., etc.
The drinking continued and I should point out, too, that there were several occassions in the 90's where I had engaged in homosexual behavior - oral sex with other males. Between the alcohol treatment centers... the psychiatric treatment centers... the hospitalizations... the half-way houses... being in and out of A.A.... As time passed, and my failures mounted, so too had diminished me caring about anything.
In the beginning of 1997, I was at my mothers home and I had gotten drunk, swallowed a bottle of prescription painkillers, and went to bed. I awoke in a hospital where I stayed for next 10 days in a psych ward. I had suggested to the doctor that I was manic-depressive because it has been brought up before. He prescribed me lithium and also zoloft.
I got out of the hospital, and continued counseling once a week for the next year. For the next 2 1/2 years, since leaving the hospital, I never drank at all. This is a world record for me. Not only since drinking was ever a problem but ever since my first actual sip.
As I was approaching two years of not drinking, in 1999, I met Tanya, who is now my wife. By April of 2000, I had stopped taking the zoloft because it has a nasty sexual side-effect - complete numbness. It was within a month or two of that that I had my first 'relapse'. Since then, being strictly on lithium, I have never achieved even one year of straight sobriety, i.e, I drank once or twice in a row every 6 months or so. (I should point out here that I never drank like a regular alcoholic - I drank the same as I did when it all started in 1988 - drink to oblivion and go to sleep)
There is another factor in that sobriety - economic security. I began living in my grandmothers house about a year after she passed away. I belive that is significant because in my shape on my own in the real world was quite frightening and drinking would kill that.
So there are three possible things accounting for the sobriety:
3. Economic Security
I don't think I am manic-depressive. I am thinking that it was the Zoloft (anti-depressant) and economic security that made life manageable to the point where I didnt need to drink and bury reality.
I think that perhaps the real root of my troubles is due to a trauma in childhood -- a sexual related one. I think I have gone through life not knowing (and denying) what my problem is, nor others. In treatment and hospitals one of the standard questions is have you ever been sexually abused - my answer has always been no.
During those sex charges when I was 19 years old, I was in complete denial about that. I rationalized and intellectualized everything. I was already a mess enough and admitting to having a sex problem was too much to bear - to me back then it would be like the final nail in the coffin that I was just a worthless piece of sh*t.
I'm 36 years old now and I'm looking at things in a whole new perspective.
1. Whether or not that girl in the hospital was of age or not, whether I understood it or not, does not matter -- having sex with someone in hospital like that is sexually deviant behavior.
2. The other girl whom I had taken advantage of her drunkeness -- that was sexually deviant behavior.
3. That sex was such the crux of my relationship with Tricia, and that was what I believed how you love someone -- that is not right.
4. The homosexual encounters I had - that was sexually deviant behavior.
5. From childhood on, I have been full of guilt and shame.
6. From childhood on, I have had a very low self-esteem.
7. From childhood on, I have always felt as I was different from everyone else.
8. From childhood on, I have had human bonding/relations/connection problems.
9. I don't believe that I was seeing shrinks because of genetically induced hyperactivity, I believe that I was reacting to something that happened or was happening to me.
10. I know with absolute certainty of at least one sexual-related incident involving what a group of older boys did to me when I was 5 or 6 years old. The details I do not know.
11. I'm suspect as to why my boo-boo had been irritating me at such a young age, why I have memories of my mother putting vaseline on it, and what happened to it to make it irritate me through the whole time growing up. It looks torn. A doctor looked at it once in 1988 and he could think of no medical condition to explain it, outside of a 5% chance that I had cancer. That was in 1988.
12. From childhood on, I have been full of anger and hate.
I think I will stop here as this is already quite long. For those of you who have read this, do you think that I'm on to something here with regards to the root of my problems or am I just grasping at straws? Also, what steps in the real walks of life do people take to deal/cope/repair/recover from this? Counseling, special groups, etc...? Is there some generally accepted course of action that needs to be taken?
A couple more things I need to mention first, though, before I go... for clarities sake:
1. I understand that this place is for survivors of abuse. I hope that the two incidents I mentioned from 1988 does not offend anyone. Please understand that I am 36 now and back then I was only 19 years old. In my eyes today, and at my age, a 19 year old is just a kid. I went into full detail, with complete honesty, so it can be seen in full context in the hopes that I'm not judged too harshly for it.
2. When I read all of what I have said above I get the impression that I seem like some freak of nature or something. I am not.
Thank you for your time.
Edited by barsik, 16 April 2004 - 01:25 AM.