PTSD from childhood and adult family abuse

I was sexually and emotionally abused between the ages of 5 and 11 by a 'Stepfather'...my Mother died when I was 14, at which point I met my real Father for the first time...he died less than 3 years later, when I turned 17...

When my Mother died, I went to live with my sister, who is 11 years older than me...but my brother-in-law always resented my presence, even though we were housed by a housing association on the basis that I had gone to live with them...once my real Father died, he started to abuse me psychologically and emotionally. It started with small things...throwing the contents of my waste paper basket over my bedroom floor, telling me to clear it up...taking meat from my plate when at a relative's house as a guest and putting it on my sister's plate (years later). He abused me on my doorstep, calling me by expletive names, saying I should be 'locked up'. Never throughout my growing up did he praise or encourage me for doing well at school or passing my driving test, etc, I just had to bear this treatment and carry on as if nothing was happening. I never reported any of this to my sister, and in fact, she witnessed some of it, saying nothing. Eight years ago, (I am now 50) I was excluded from Christmas celebrations by them and it opened a real can of worms. He finally achieved his aim of separating my sister and myself (which he previously stated was his intention)...I had to sell my home in my hometown and move elsewhere...I lost my identity, became suicidal, felt there was nowhere to turn for help...6 years later, I am gradually finding myself again, but feel I will never recover my full identity and reputation (they involved me with the police). I have been made to feel guilty, not having done anything wrong, but simply out of circumstances and the powerlessness that comes with not having a figure if authority stand up for you in an intolerable situation of large scale bullying and emotional abuse. The story is made worse by the fact that their daughter, my niece, now 36, whom I looked after and cared for, and loved as a child, said 7 years ago that she 'had no good memory of me'...and that I 'should get help'...cruel and cold in the extreme, just like her Father.

My sister's compliance with all of this is equally, and in some ways more, distressing...I keep wishing I could have my Mother back after all these years, as someone to confide in, who could love me unconditionally.

Thank you for reading my story. Do you have any comments that may help me? Thanks again.

9 Replies

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  • I'm so sorry that you have had to suffer this abuse Pavlina, I can relate to it. I think that I would describe this as complex-ptsd. Where you suffer multiple traumas. Early trauma, where we had no control, then causes us to feel a similar way as adults, and then adult abusers target us and we fear defending ourselves because we aren't used to it, we feel powerless and afraid. The fear is very real, but I don't believe the danger is often as real. That in no way takes anything away from your suffering or the suffering of others.

    I am being abused by neighbours. I call it the "angry silence". I feel afraid and powerless, but I am not actually in danger. This is something I am working on in therapy. Babette Rothschild encourages us to think about "duel awareness". Where we acknowledge the fear, and then acknowledge but we won't die. Because as a child, adults abusing us made us feel so out of control that we felt life-threatening fear.

    I wish you peace and love. May you achieve all you are capable of Pavlina.

  • Thank you so much Red Fox...you make a good observation about being weakened in response to bullying and abuse in adulthood by having suffered the same as a child. I don't think, as the victim, you realise that until it's pointed out to you...I can also identify with the phrase "angry silence" , as that's what I used to get from my brother in law, more of an "angry hostility" really...anyhow, I do realise that each of us is responsible for our own behaviour and we should not blame ourselves for others' weird behaviour towards us.

    I hope things go OK regards your neighbours...I don't think I mentioned in my original post that I was actually living right next door to my so-called family when all the adult abuse was happening...they treated me as if I was "dead" for almost 2 years after involving me with the police, until I managed to move away...so I had the unhappy combination of rotten neighbours and rotten family!!

    Thank you again for your kind words and blessing to me...much appreciated and I likewise wish you peace and love...xxx

  • Hi MultipleChris

    Thank you so much for your kind comments and excellent advice. I wholeheartedly agree in building up a new 'family' for ourselves, where we have none...I have in the past even thought about advertising for one!! But your suggestions are much more practical...in giving and helping others, we can receive so much...

    I must look Leo Bascallia up! Kind regards...xxx

  • Leo B talked a lot about family dynamics, and his words lent me hope when I ran out at times. The world is a lesser pace without him.

    Hugs

  • Hey, Pavlina!

    thanks for your post! I also went through sexual and emotional abuse. It wasn't our fault. It's the sickness of the people we grew up with and the trauma of the world we live in. Right now, with faith in God I'm trying to trust people and live my life. Writing about it, as I heard, helps us recover. Also, reading that to someone we trust (e.g. a therapist) also helps, as I heard.

    we are survivors! keep posting!

  • Hi Butterfly 2000

    Thanks for your kind words and sorry you suffered abuse as I did...but, as you say, we survived! It made me think of that song "I'm a survivor, I'm not gonna give up!"...Kind regards...xxx

  • Hi Pavlina. My name is Josh. Thank you for sharing your story, you show great strength and courage in doing so. There is healing in sharing with our peers. I'm glad you are here in this community. I too was sexually abused by my stepfather from age5 until age 11. We will never get those years back, nor anything else from our pasts, including our identities. Each and everyone of us has our own journey to trek, as unique and specific as our fingerprints are. I can only share with you what has been working for me thus far. I changed everything. Somethings failed some things worked, some things I failed at first but later became benificial. It's a road of ups and downs searching for the new me, the me I want to be. Defined by me designed for me designed by me. Sounds egotistical im sure, it has to be self directed though, ive tried looking for myself in other people and that lead only to a greater loss of identity. Some specific things that have worked for me so far. Peer support, finding people like you and I and this community, people who "get it". Pushing myself outside of my comfort zone, felt/feels awkward at first, but the growth and empowerment it brings is indescribable. Choosing a diet that meets my lifestyle needs. Going deep inside me, my fears and learning what and why things motivate me. Checking daily if my actions are meeting up with my goals and values. Learning to live again basically growing myself up lol. There is so much healing power for us all to tap into here and in us all. Glad you are here to share yours with me Pavlina

  • Hi Josh

    Many thanks for your comments and so sorry that you suffered as I did in your childhood...You have given me some great advice, which I truly appreciate. It's good to have joined a community of people who understand my situation...very strengthening...I think this way of telling my story seems more effective than speaking to a counsellor alone (also dependent on the professionality, personality and experience of the counsellor)...

    As Butterfly 2000 says "we are survivors!"...although it would have been great not to have become the victim in the first place, we have truly survived and tried to make the best of our lives...Personally, I have found that in getting older the issues have become more difficult to deal with, as youth and strength are not on my side!! However, each day is a new day and, as you say, with peer support and the support of good friends we can hope to live the life we imagine would have been our fate, without having gone though our traumatic experiences...

    All the very best to you...xxx

  • Hi Pavlina,

    Isn't this group just the greatest! I have a framed quote that means the world to me which says," Friends are the family you choose." Unfortunately, we had no choice in the matter of who raised us. But now we have a choice! The child part of us sometimes is unaware this powerful ability we now have to make choices to protect ourselves. We can surround ourselves with kind people and choose to stay away from the ones who can hurt us.

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