real life

'My father sexually abused me when I was 7. It took me years to realise it happened.'

This post deals with child abuse and might be triggering for some readers.

What does one do when faced with the prospect that their entire life has been built off fiction? 

For me, it transformed me into a warrior. 

Each day, I battle with this thought. What memories are real? What parts of my life are cover-ups for the truth behind my father’s eyes? 

Watch: Women and Violence - The Hidden Numbers. Post continues below. 


Video via Mamamia

These are questions I believe I will continue to ask for the remainder of my life, but searching for the answers has helped me build a layer of armour I so desperately needed. 

My father was an amazing man. He was my hero; a lovable clown, wordsmith, movie buff, chocoholic, animal lover. I idolised him. 

We were connected by so many passions. A love for film and photography, a natural ability with comedy. 

Together we explored the world, discovered new cuisines, absorbed new cultures. We entertained the masses with our comedic efforts, admired the arts, and explored poetry. 

He was my teacher, my mentor.

The man I know today is not my father. He wears his skin, but his soul is not of the man I once knew. 

Coming to terms with his misdeeds was something I never thought I would be able to conquer. How does someone justify that this person they loved with all their being was so bent, so broken, and always was?

For me I had to let go of that person I knew. He was dead. With this mindset I was able to rebuild myself piece by piece, slowly, until I could stand tall and face the world again.

I began small, reaching out to those who had suffered at his hand and letting them know I was on their side. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Speaking with loved ones and facing the hard truth of what he had done. Mostly I had to grieve. I had lost a loved one, and like anyone who faces that loss my heart was broken, and I had to allow time for it to mend.

For a period of time, I shut down. 

I lost touch with myself and threw all of my energy into caring for others. 

My mother needed me most. Learning that the man you laid with, the man who shares the DNA of your children, had this twisted mind was not easy on her. 

Not that it should be easy to digest a cataclysmic reveal like that. I needed to be there for her more than I needed to be there for myself, and I pushed my own recovery aside. 

In a way this was the easiest avenue for me to cope with my own pain; ignore it, push it to the back of my mind, and focus on helping someone who needs a stronger support system. 

When my mother was strong enough all of a sudden I had to face my own heartache. I had ignored it for so long that when I began to let myself feel again it was overwhelming. 

I found myself questioning my childhood and my unlimited supply of happy memories with him. How was I to know what was real and what was a part of this persona he had built? 

Slowly, I began to pay attention to the memory that was burning in the back of my mind. Behind every reminiscence was a grim reality. 

My father had molested me and until now I hadn’t listened to my memory when it tried to warn me. Years of dreams, years of flash reminders that I never paid attention to made sense. 

He broke my trust at the young age of seven and I let myself forget. I felt like I had let everyone down. 

If I had paid attention earlier the addition of my abuse may have seen him receive harsher punishment, but more importantly there may have been others like me who weren’t confident enough to speak out. 

I was angry with myself for some time and again, I kept this pain to myself. I was afraid that if I was honest with those around me, I wouldn’t be taken seriously or I would be looked down on for not being honest at the time it mattered most; his trial. 

Eventually I mustered the courage to speak to someone I loved and trusted more than anyone in the world, my Aunt. 

Through tears I told her about my dreams and the confusion and pain I had about this haunting echo in the back of my mind. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Of course, after years of repressing this information out of fear I expected the worst. I expected to be reprimanded for not speaking out when my voice could have created an impact, but instead I was met with calm conversation. 

She assured me none of this was my wrongdoing. There is no timeframe to come to terms with your abuse. 

Those who love you unconditionally will always listen. 

So why am I sharing my story? Well, like many people who have experienced abuse from a loved one, or any abuse at all, I was afraid of my reality. I didn’t want to believe that it was real, and I wanted to hold on to those happy childhood memories and pretend that they weren’t tainted. 

I thought I could get past the anguish his crimes caused and move on with my life without facing my own truth. 

But the more I pressed on with my life the more I felt a need to face that truth. 

Slowly I had built up the armour I needed to battle that reality and now that I was protected I could march into combat. 

My past has made me a warrior. Until recently I had thought of writing about my experience but hadn’t felt a strong pull to do so. 

The new gag law that has been introduced in Victoria has rung in my ears. Those who have been abused should not be silenced.

Had I felt the need to do so at the time I would have wanted to speak openly about my experience with abuse. 

Anyone who feels that speaking out is integral to their personal journey to healing should be able to. Everyone processes their experiences in their own way.

I needed time, others may need to act immediately and raise awareness. Regardless it shouldn’t be up to any one person how one individual processes their abuse. 

This is my story. Let others share theirs. Let us speak.

If this post brings up any issues for you, you can contact Bravehearts (an organisation providing support to victims of child abuse) here.

If you are concerned about the welfare of a child you can get advice from the Child Abuse Protection Hotline by calling 1800 688 009, or visiting their website. You can also call the 24-hour Child Abuse Report Line (131 478).

Feature Image: Getty

00:00 / ???