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Child abuse, shame, and recovery

by James

Content warning: Strong Emotional Content.  

I was born in a beautiful little town in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The first nine years of my life were wonderful. However, in 1967, my childhood was abruptly ruined by my best friend’s older brother. 

Often, when I would go to play at my best friend’s house, his older brother would be home hiding in the shadows waiting for his opportunity to abuse me. I remember being there and hearing the sound of a door locking and knew I was in trouble. I would get this sinking feeling in my gut, knowing what was in store for me. He would sexually attack me while my friend held me down.

I had no clue as to whether my friend’s brother held power over him too, forcing him to cooperate, or whether my friend willingly participated. All I knew was that it was wrong and how sick it made me feel. Afterward, I would run home in order to wash this filthy feeling of utter guilt and shame.

Experiencing abuse from him for nearly three years and feeling that my friend should come to my defense and not allow his brother to sexually abuse me left an impact on me. I can’t for the life of me understand why I still considered him my best friend.

Being sexually abused is so intimate that it brings shame and fear.

As for me, I know I just wanted to hide. The shame was eating me away inside, and the thing is, it wasn’t even my shame to carry. I felt like it was, but it wasn’t my fault. I was the one who was abused, but for some reason I still felt the need to keep this knowledge within me, too ashamed to even share it with anyone. I felt this shame justified my hurt.

It took me many years to tell anyone about this abuse. It was hard, and it hurt, and yet that’s what I needed to do, to get it out in the open. It affected me so much emotionally.

However, finally talking about it forced me to deal with this trauma. Time and help from the right people brought healing. I am now able to identify with the effects of my abuse and to realize just how many others have been through similar experiences.

One thing I know for sure, though, is that it needs to be dealt with in order for healing to begin and that if I can go through that long, dark tunnel and reach the other side, so can you.  That is my deepest desire for you – you are worth it!

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