My sister was molested by an older cousin for years. When my parents found out, my father beat my sister and screamed at her and called her terrible, awful names not worth repeating. I would credit that moment with the moment I lost my childhood. And I would relive that moment every day until my early twenties; a good ten years or so. PTST? Nobody in my family talked about the sexual abuse after that. It was like it didn't happen, like a dream, but it most certainly was not. Nobody in my family went to counseling. My sister started cutting herself and acting out sexually, but again, nobody talked about it. We stopped going to extended family gatherings because my dad refused to take us there. I am grateful for that, but the rest of our family acted like nothing happened even though this cousin molested several other cousins and his own siblings. Still, nobody did a thing. I am angry at the lack of action. None of the adults did anything to help any of us and they had the power to do so. How could they let all of us down like that? I makes me sick to my stomach to think about it. We are all adults now and still nobody talks about it. It's the big sexual abuse secret that everybody is trying to protect. They want to keep it between the family, but I can't keep quiet about it anymore. It's stressful and just plain wrong! I am angry and have major trust issues. Recently, I found out that my mom was molested by her brother. Obviously, the sexual abuse in my family is generational. I have pulled myself away from my extended family to keep myself safe, but I sometimes feel very alone even though I am married and have children. I don't have many people to talk to about this and I feel like I'm the only one going through this although I'm sure I'm not. I am still very angry about the events that transpired and how my extended family treated my sister, how they treated us. I don't want anything to do with them, but I sometimes get badgered by my extended family or my parents to attend family gatherings and I don't understand them. My parents didn't protect my sister or the rest of us and even though they acknowledge the bad job they did with the sexual abuse, they do not acknowledge how physically and emotionally abusive they were to my siblings and I. I don't trust them. I often ask myself how could they could love us and still treat us/let this happen? Will there ever be a point where I'm at peace? I know they cannot give me what I am looking for (a loving, compassionate, caring family), but I have a hard time giving up hope. Any ideas on how to cope with something like this?
******************************************** *********************** *************************************************** **************** Welcome to the board, glad you found us. Though so sorry you have need for being here.
First off, yes you can find peace in all this. Its not going to be the peace that all children dream of, of the happy loving family, but a personal peace.
You: "None of the adults did anything to help any of us and they had the power to do so. How could they let all of us down like that?"
Sadly people who themselves were abused and didn't get help/therapy just don't know how to help. They are emotionally stunted and when presented with the reality of sexual abuse in there own children, handle it very badly.
(I have a house full of kids off from school today and am finding it hard to type with all this. I will write more tomorrow when there all in school. again welcome to the board.)
peace be the journey
I'm not really a psychopath, I just play one on the internet.
Hi, welcome to the community, though as TCOS said I'm sorry that you need to be here.
I'm so sorry for what happened to you and your sister. I wish that the adults hadn't acted that way but that is what happens a lot of the time sadly... People don't understand it or can't deal with it so they pretend it didn't happen and/or blame the victim.
I agree with TCOS that in time and with work you can gain peace on a personal level. The old saying, "You can choose your friends but not your family" is very true. You may not be able to have that perfect family that we all try to attain (which is impossible to reach) but once you can get to the place where you're at peace with yourself, I truly think that things will get better for you. Finding that peace can take time and there are ups and downs along the way. I hope that your sister is now able to get the help that she needs and deserves.
About you mentioning that the abuse seems to have been going on in your family for generations. I found out after I finally told someone about the abuse and who had done it too me that that person had been sexually at about the same age that I had been when they started doing it to me... A sad truth is that sometimes it becomes a kind of snowball effect...
I wish you all the best. Again, welcome to the board but I'm sorry that you have a need to be here.
I've had about four years of counseling and I've finally learned how to set boundaries and stand up for myself. It took me a long time to be able to do that and I feel pretty good about what I've accomplished, but I still get very nervous when I see a phone call or e-mail from my extended family. I've tried keep the interaction with them to a minimum (weddings and funerals), but when some of my family members bring up the molesters or even some of the other family members that tried to force me to forgive and forget, I get very upset.
My extended family is always giving me these signs to just get over it and I know it's because they don't want to confront the past. They haven't confronted the sexual abuse in their own generation, so I don't know what makes me hope they'll be able to confront the sexual abuse from my generation.
It's rather uncomfortable to be around my extended family and pretend that nothing happened, so I've pulled myself away from them, but it doesn't feel good. It feels like I am being punished. I know my extended family chose the molesters family over my own and that stings.
Last year, things were okay because I had minimal interaction with my extended family and I felt more at peace.
These feelings stir up about 3-4 times a year and I'm just sick of having them.
I'm so glad that you've been able to get counseling and set boundaries for yourself. You have every right to be proud of that! Be proud of every step forward that you take, and even if you feel you've hit a setback don't let it get you down. We all have our ups and downs as we work to recover. Remember how far you've come already and remind yourself that you will get there.
How to go about finding personal peace?
I honestly wish that I could give you an answer to that question... I'm still trying to make peace with my past, myself, my family, and those that hurt me. I don't think there is any easy answer and the path is different for everyone. Finally being able to admit to someone what had happened was a huge turning point for me personally. I cannot forgive those who hurt me like they did, even though on some level I understand what may have led them to do it whether that be abuse they suffered or a mental illness, and I don't feel that I have to forgive them. There are some things that just can't be forgiven. But that is my personal opinion and everyone is different.
I wish I could tell you something concrete to how you can find peace... Perhaps one of the others will have some advice that will be of more help to you. Personally, though I at times still struggle to find peace, I believe that my spirituality has helped me more than anything else. Faith and hope have kept me going even when I was afraid that I couldn't take anymore. And though I have told very few about my past, their support and even just knowing that I'm not alone has helped me immensely.
I hope that you can find something helpful in what I've said. Please take care of yourself and be patient.
I, too, welcome you here, YanPan, yet at the same time am sorry that your past brings you. I don't have much to offer at the moment, but please know I am listening, and I am sure others that you have not heard from yet are also reading/listening and nodding their heads in understanding.
I came to this board less than a year ago, and I am still working on the "personal peace" aspect of my past as well. We may all have a bond here, but all of our journeys are individual. I have only recently, consciously decided to accept my memories as truth for, you see, I had no memory of a very different childhood than I originally thought I had. That, in my journey, was a most difficult step towards peace.
I have also had to distance myself from some friends whom I originally thought I could trust with my story. Part of peace, to me, is realizing that everyone has their own good and bad parts to their pasts, which sometimes causes them to respond to those around them in ways that aren't helpful and can be hurtful - even when it is family. (Though, in my case, I will never share this with my family.) Realizing I can't control how anyone else responds to anything, only how I respond to life, and trying to live an authentic life regardless of what anyone else thinks, and being okay with that, helps me.
I also have God. (Some people prefer to use the term "Higher Power.") For me, I tell myself that it does not matter what anyone else thinks, it only matters what God thinks, and that brings me comfort. I am also discovering that "family" isn't always what you are born into. Oh, yes, in a perfect world it would be wonderful to have blood relatives be supportive, mature, understanding, and protective, but we are not in a perfect world right now. I am discovering that cautiously creating a "family" of supportive and protective people around me is not a perfect replacement, but it sure helps.
I'm sorry for jabbering on so long. I hope something in this post is helpful to you, and I wish you peace on your journey.
Thanks! You know, a few months ago my aunt sent out an e-mail to the entire family informing everybody about the sexual abuse among other things. The family was livid. There were several e-mails sent around from family members in my generation stating that they wished to be removed from the e-mail list and others that said we should all live in the now and forgive. My uncle wished my aunt dead and nobody else responded. My sister made it known to her abuser that she thinks he is monster and never wants to see him again. He responded with something like, I wish people would just get over it. Clearly, there are very indignant abusers in my family. My family still protects the sexual abuse secret. I know I should have some comfort in the fact that one person finally admitted it and that my sister confronted her abuser, but I still feel like it's not enough and I'm not entirely sure why. Maybe it's because I still haven't achieved personal peace?
I was thinking about what you said about it not seeming like enough... This is just my own thought and I very well may be wrong and barking up the wrong tree, but I don't think that it's ever enough. I'll do my best to explain what I mean. (Has a hard time with words. )
The things that people like us went through and go through in our lives takes so much from us; and a lot of the time the abusers don't think twice about it or suffer few, if any, consequences for their actions. Honestly I don't believe that there is anything that can make up for all of that hurt and pain. Over time we can heal and the pain lessens. We can have a good, happy, healthy life, but it will always be there in the back of our mind. The way things are now nothing can make up for what happened. But I do believe that in time we can heal, start moving forward, be happy, and at peace.
I'm sorry. I didn't mean to ramble and I may be completely off base of what you were thinking. That's just what came to mind as I was thinking about it.
You: I know I should have some comfort in the fact that one person finally admitted it and that my sister confronted her abuser, but I still feel like it's not enough and I'm not entirely sure why. Maybe it's because I still haven't achieved personal peace?
Or it because you were abused also?
Your reaction to all this makes more sense if you were abused also. Hence the reason you need closure.
You find peace in knowing you are keeping your children safe, no matter the cost.
You find peace in creating a family vs just sticking with the one you were born into. Salvage the relationships you want to keep and draw a firm line and shove everyone else over the line.
You find peace in living forward, vs stagnating in the past and keeping the wounds fresh and bleeding.
You find peace by speaking up and out about all the stuff clogging your head/heart (hear is a good start) how long ago was therapy? pre-children? if so think about giving it another go.
You will find that incest will be a nagging festering thorn that needs addressed vs sweeping it under the rug.
You: Still, nobody did a thing. I am angry at the lack of action. None of the adults did anything to help any of us and they had the power to do so. How could they let all of us down like that? I makes me sick to my stomach to think about it.
Sounds like they did do something to me. Dad topped the contact with the other family....he did that part right, the other part sadly is common reaction, to blame the victim. Equally as damaging as the abuse in my eyes.
You sound like you want to fight your sisters fight for her? Why is that?
YanPan you will never have the loving well adjusted family you dream of. So many of us are denied that simple birth right. You find peace be accepting that sad truth and then living on and treating yourself the compassion and love and protection you should have been with as a child.
Some pain you can't heal, but you can treat the wounds so they sting less.
Peace be the journey
I'm not really a psychopath, I just play one on the internet.
"The things that people like us went through and go through in our lives takes so much from us; and a lot of the time the abusers don't think twice about it or suffer few, if any, consequences for their actions."
You hit the nail on the head for me. There were no consequences for the abusers in my family, so I've seen first-hand that you can do something horrendous to somebody and everybody will still be nice to you. I've seen how the abused was blamed for the abuse and I've watched the abused get re-abused by one of the people they trusted the most. That's hard to wrap your head around as an adult, let alone a child. I looked to the adults in my family to protect us and they let us down. And not only that, they tainted the pool of normalcy in my life. All of my feelings, all of my emotions and boundaries were out of whack for a very long time and I had to re-learn how to protect myself, respond, trust, defend myself, set boundaries, and live.
I am healing more and more every day and I feel pretty good most of the time, but when I have a flashback or I am reminded that all of my relationships with my own family have suffered, it makes me angry. This happens about a couple times a year. It helps me to talk it out. Thanks for listening and responding.
Dogdancing — I was abused, but not sexually. My parents were physically and emotionally abusive. I've confronted them about this and I feel as much "closure" as I possibly can with something like that while maintaining a semi-healthy relationship with them.
Thank you for your list of ways to keep peace. I found them very helpful. Especially this part:
"You find peace by speaking up and out about all the stuff clogging your head/heart (hear is a good start) how long ago was therapy? pre-children? if so think about giving it another go.
You will find that incest will be a nagging festering thorn that needs addressed vs. sweeping it under the rug."
This is exactly what is going on. I feel clogged. I feel silenced. It is nagging at me. I hate feeling like I shouldn't speak up because it will be offensive to my family. It feels like some people in my family are still very insistent on protecting the abusers. I'm rather tired of being all nicey-nice about the abuse and that I'm the bad, squeaky wheel for vocalizing that it actually happened. It makes me feel crazy to "pretend" that none of the sexual abuse happened and that I should just be able to move on. I don't believe that is real, at least not for me.
Also, the last time I was in counseling was about six months ago.
"Sounds like they did do something to me. Dad topped the contact with the other family....he did that part right, the other part sadly is common reaction, to blame the victim. Equally as damaging as the abuse in my eyes."
My dad did do something. My extended family did nothing. In fact, my mother was talked out of going to the police by her family. Even though my dad's reaction was horrible and abusive, he protected all of us including my mother and for that I am grateful. I don't understand his reaction to finding out about my sister's sexual abuse. But what my parents didn't do for us was talk to us about it. We didn't go to family counseling and after about five years or so, we went back to family gatherings with my sisters abuser. What I learned here was that it's not okay to talk about certain situations, that emotional health wasn't important, and that if you wait long enough, all will be forgiven. That was damaging to me.
"You sound like you want to fight your sisters fight for her? Why is that?"
Good question. I too did turn my back on my sister in my own way and I feel guilty for it. I should've been her ally and I wasn't. I should've been with her always and I wasn't. Maybe if I was with her, I could've stopped the abuse in some way or stopped it earlier. Even though I was a child myself and I know that he might have found another way or another time to abuse her, I am still upset with myself about not doing enough to protect her.
I also feel that my mother and my sister and all of my aunts and cousins that were sexually abused were robbed of their voice. We were all taught this weird code of silence. That it's better to just keep it all inside and pretend it didn't happen. None of us were taught how to properly set boundaries.
One of the reasons I went to counseling was because I needed to learn how to set boundaries. Because things in my life have been so skewed, I had to re-learn how to say no, set proper boundaries, and react normally.
I feel like the cycle of sexual abuse will continue in my family because there are too many people that don't see a problem and won't admit that it happened. This is a problem for me. I can't imagine that I wouldn't be completely devastated if I come to find out in twenty years that my little cousins were also sexually abused. The scary thing is, I can see it happening and it makes me very sad. If one person would've just broken the abuse wide open in my generation, maybe, just maybe things would've been different for all of us.
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
The opinions expressed in WebMD Communities are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. Communities are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatments or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.
Do not consider Communities as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.