I was sexually abused....and I would often question, why my abuser chose me? Was something wrong with me? One of my abusers was a family member… another a neighbor... another a classmate. I often asked did I do something wrong? Did I look like the boys that one of my abusers was into? I even believed there must be something about me that caused this… that there was something about me that made me a target. These are the random thoughts I would find myself wrestling with while processing my experience. And I dealt with all of this in silence, never telling my parents.
As the years went on I thought sex was the value of my existence with men. Being a sexual being was one of the few ways to keep someone around and convince them that I was worth caring about and loving. Eventually I realized that this way of thinking was afflicting pain and hurtful, as if it were a religious act of flagellation. Eventually I would receive counseling off and on from various people; from pastoral to professional counseling. I even think that my sexual abuse had an affect on the progress of my labor while birthing my daughter. All of the fears of my past suddenly rushed in the moment I was suppose to push my baby into the world... I was scared to have my baby out of fear of her entering such a fucked up world.
It was when my daughter was a few months after turning one, that I started counseling again. And it was through this (counseling) that I started to finally see my healing take place. Maybe it was the desire to be the best mother I needed to be, to finally let go and realize I am not the sum of my experiences OR the false notion that I caused the sexual abuse that I experienced...that I was worthy of complete healing, self-care, self-love. I started reframing my thinking. Being a professional counselor myself, I had to be the best me I could be for those I would help through their healing process.
As an artist, I created space to speak of my experience hoping to help someone else who might be silently dealing with the same things I went through. I birthed Project Vapeur. Project Vapeur was a biographical therapeutic expressive art project about myself (photographed below). I don’t think healing is a linear process. You will go through the process of grief. And I don’t think there is one perfect way to get to your healing, but several ways to get to your comprehensive holistic healing. You must search within yourself to see what those different options are which can be both an internal and external process that must engage you emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. It will hurt. It will be painful to go through. But read that again… You will GO THROUGH it, but you will not stay there.
I discovered the men who invaded me were also sexually assaulted as children. I believe one of the sad reasons it happens so often is because sexual abuse has become a norm in the caribbean culture for some reason as if it were playful horseplay and part of the initiation of becoming a man, especially if a older woman forced herself onto a boy. We must break the silence on the taboo subject of child sexual abuse/incest within our culture. My parents never spoke to me about my body or what was good and bad touches But moreso scorned me to stay away from boys or that I would get pregnant if I kissed a boy. Who's heard that before?
One of the most hidden forms of abuse against children is sexual abuse, which many times is committed by a person closely related to the child. Sexual abuse is not a new phenomenon. It occurs in all racial, ethnic, religious and socioeconomic groups and affects children of all ages, including infants even though porprogandga will make you think otherwise. Within the family sphere, sexual abuse is commonly referred to as incest and is usually perpetrated by those who are in positions of trust and intimacy and power – fathers, fathers-in-law, grandfathers, stepfathers, brothers, uncles, brothers and other male relatives and even friends of the family that are considered family.
I believe that we must discuss with our children regarding what’s normal and not normal. Lovingly express that they can talk to you no matter what. This can be done before bedtime, or around the dinner table, or even in your daily day to day routines. Talk to your children and know what’s going on in their world. Don’t force children to hug or engage adults they may get a bad vibe from. Pay attention to your children’s body language no matter how young they are; you never know what they are indirectly trying to tell us. As parents we can protect our children. Taking these steps may help your little one.
Lastly, if you are a survivor of sexual abuse… IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. IT IT NOT YOUR FAULT. IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. YOU ARE LOVED. YOU ARE WHOLE. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. YOU ARE NOT THE SUM OF YOUR EXPERIENCES. YOU ARE WORTH MORE THAN YOUR EXPERIENCES. YOU ARE VALUED. YOU ARE NOT IMPOSSIBLE TO LOVE. YOU ARE LOVE. YOU ARE POSSIBLE OF ANYTHING. YOU ARE MIRACULOUS.