Told It Was Normal

by Megan
(United Kingdom)

Time and time again, I have tried to share my story but I have never known how to start. However I've realised over the last year that it does not matter how it started, what matters is what I am doing to finish it and the same goes for what I am about to write. (I'm sorry if this comes across messy or unorganised, it's hard to write the details of my story for the first time as I'm sure you can all relate to. I have written briefly before about my story however this is the most detailed I have been)

I'm 17 now and live in the UK, I have an amazing family and wonderful friends and a boyfriend that is out of this world. You probably expect me to go on and talk about how neglected I was during childhood but lucky for me that is not the case, I have always had an amazing and supportive family and I thank god every day for that. Unfortunately there was one family member that was not so kind.

For 7 years, I was a victim of child sexual abuse. From the age of 5 to the age of 12, I was mentally, physically and sexually abused by my eldest cousin. He both persuaded and forced me to take part in sexual activities which included the usual activities as well as being asked to dance 'provocatively' for him. As I was a child, I had no idea how to even dance let alone 'provocatively'. He would make me perform sexual acts on him as well as force me to allow him to perform sexual acts on me.

This would not only physically harm me but severely mentally harmed me as he would tell me it was my fault, that everyone did it and it was normal, that if I screamed for someone, he would hit me. (Which in fact, he did, many times as I was always a bit of a fighter, I would try and kick him off. This happened a lot as I got nearer to the age of 11 and realised that this was not right and not 'everyone did it'. However as much as I cried and tried to push him off, he hit me and every time, I learned my lesson and did not try again on the same day).

For years before I realised what he was doing, he would tell me I was pregnant and that what I was doing or what he was doing made me 'grow a baby inside'. I was petrified, always petrified that this was true and was afraid that my family would hate me and I would be left alone. This started to affect my behaviour both at home and at school, badly.

You might think that it didn't happen a lot but unfortunately, our family was and still is a very close knit family which meant that I would see my abuser every week, most weeks it would be more than once.

As I hit 12, things started to slow down, he didn't do it as often and he started to avoid me. Only recently I have realised that this is because I started puberty and my period started. I was also starting secondary school that year and I knew about sex and sexual activities. My bad behaviour at secondary school escalated quickly and soon I was being isolated nearly every week and excluded many times in a term. No one knew what the root cause of my behaviour was until one day I dreamt about my abuse, I dreamt about it so badly that I screamed and screamed, unfortunately, I was staying over my best friend's house. She was petrified, she had no idea what was going on. The next day, I told her everything. She begged me to tell my parents and the next day, I sat my mum down and told her everything. She was so supportive, she cried and held me for hours.

Soon after that, my mum found a miracle worker, a true fairy godmother, my councillor; Linda. We had a very gruesome and difficult path ahead of us but she persevered even when I refused to say a word, she never gave up on me and she changed my life for the better. Without her, I don't know who I would be or how my behaviour would have escalated. I have never told anyone the reason why I drank so much at the age of 14/15 or why my aggression was at its highest one point when I threw a chair at my math teacher or why I would never get changed for PE in front of people due to the numerous cuts and bruises over my body.

I have now been having counselling with Linda for 4 years and will continue to do so. My journey has been mentally draining and due to my scoliosis operations, it has been a physically demanding one too but I would never change it. What happened too me has made me the strong, independent and open minded young woman I am today and I thank my lucky stars that I had my family to support me every step of the way. I will never forget what my mum, dad and Linda have done for me. Without them, I'm afraid to say it, but I may not have been here to tell my story.

If you're wondering, yes I do still see my cousin, not regularly but I do. For years, I begged my parents to not ruin our close knit family and refrained them from telling my aunt and uncle; they still are oblivious to their monstrous son but as long as I still have them in my life, I know I will be just fine. My cousin and I do not talk, nor do we make eye contact or in fact even acknowledge one another, maybe we will in the future, I do not know but what I do know is that I will never forget how he ruined my childhood and my teenage years however I'm too strong to ever let myself get back to who I used to be, that person is not me and that person never really was me, she was someone who was formed from terrible abuse.

As Linda says, I have not finished my journey as a recovering victim of sexual abuse, I have just changed my course; a better path in leading my life and being in control of my future.

The only people to ever know about my story is my mother, father and best friend and now all of you. The people who will understand this more than anyone (but my own mother, as she too is also a recovering sexual abuse victim and whenever I think about this, a piece of my old self comes back; my incomprehensible anger).

Thank you for reading my story. This is a first draft as the first draft is always the scruffiest and is always all over the place and I feel as though that represents how we have all felt as victims at one point.

Never forget that it is NOT YOUR FAULT. Not for one moment was it your fault. You did not ask for this life and you did not ask to be treated in such an unlawful and disgusting manner. You are the strongest people alive, you are survivors.

'Do not judge yourself by what others did to you' ~ C Kennedy

This has become one of my favourite quotes of all time. It became my favourite when I first realised that maybe, just maybe, what happened to me was not my fault after all.

I will leave you with my 2 favourite survivor quotes of all time from one of my favourite books: 'Healing Insights: Effects of Abuse for Adults Abused as Children' by Jeanne McElvaney.

'You can recognise survivors of abuse by their courage. When silence is so very inviting, they step forward and share their truth so others know they aren't alone' ~ Jeanne McElvaney

'Survivors of abuse show us the strength of their personal spirit every time they smile' ~ Jeanne McElvaney

Xx Meg

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