The Telling: The First Moment the Universe Heard the Story of my Sexual Abuse

It is honestly difficult to remember the first time I spoke the words, “He hurt me” with out the memory being encapsulated in a snow globe. I watch it play itself out; nothing exists except for my house on Mosswood Drive, me, my mother and a Strawberry Shortcake suitcase. It is not uncommon for a trauma victim to have memories that can only be remembered as if you are a third party, a ghost, entering into the memory watching your physical self play it out while you loom overhead. Your emotional Self hangs out above, floating and separate from you. For what ever reason, this particular memory is even more distant, yet at the same time, in a snow globe’s tomb, immortalized in my mind.
I was eleven or twelve years old. We had moved from a condo in my home town to a rental house, now renting with my mother’s boyfriend and children. This was the second one following the separation of her second husband and as usual, I was having a difficult time adjusting. Change was like a stabbing knife in my chest. I knew I was supposed to ‘get along’, but it was this boyfriend that I finally readily rejected, tired of being told indirectly to roll with the flow. That day, I had reached a breaking point, weary of the angry tongue lashing that was not uncommon, especially if there was no one around to stop it. I packed my bag and I was leaving. Listen, I packed my STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE suitcase. What in the hell was I thinking?!! Clearly a person honestly capable of leaving would have a black leather suitcase. Every time I flip the snow globe and play out the memory in my mind, I stop dead when the childish suitcase is being packed. But I honestly was carrying heavy, grown up weight with no where to put it, except into my flimsy childish life.
My mother laughed at me while I sobbed, stuffing various clothes into my little girl life. It just made me hurt even more. Could she not see this pain? She was clueless…. even more clueless about the bombshell I was about to drop on her. My day bed faced the window out onto the front porch and was covered with a bright white bed spread, stuffed animals and flowery pillows. I originally bunked with my older soon-to-be step sister, but I was used to having my own space. I had white antique furniture, it followed me into every house I can remember, even in the houses of abuse. I had plenty of clothes. I always had plenty of stuff. But my soul was slowly dying.These words about soul loss may sound like drama, something Scarlet herself would mumble, but when we keep secrets, it rots our soul and each traumatic memory is wrapped like bacon in a thick layer of shame.
My hair was short and puffy. I remember wearing gray cut off Levi jeans with a white shirt that had hot pink and black geometric patterns on it. It was the 80’s in California. I am sure I had high top Reebok with multiple pairs of socks too. And I really was leaving. Anything. Anything to get away from this life. Anything to escape the indescribable pain of the past mixed with the emotional pounding that I was once again receiving from my mother. She seemed relieved when I was broken. This time I was desperate to use Strawberry Shortcake as my shield.
I went towards the front door, first turn to the right out of my room. She grabbed up my arm, became frantic that I was really leaving. Somehow I managed to get out on the porch, but never any further. I absolutely cannot remember how I made it from the porch with leaving in hand to the kitchen table, telling her, telling ANYONE for the first time.
I have no memory of my mothers face that day. She is a blur. I can remember the color of my shorts, but not her face. I cannot remember any consoling words except a vague idea that I was going to get help. I was at least heard momentarily and had some visions of seeing a therapist. But I cannot remember how the day ended. My snow globe goes blanket white and I want to remember if I even felt relieved. Did she hug me? Did she say she was sorry? I wasn’t even sure if she believed me.
Jump several days. I am watching myself talk to my first step father on the phone. His son was my perpetrator, my step brother. It was one of those old style, heavy, manilla colored phones with white plastic push dials. If you pushed just right, all the buttons would dial together and lord knows it was so heavy you could easily knock yourself out just trying to answer it. I am in my mother’s room alone, me and the phone to the right of the bed. My step father starts to ask me if what I said to my mother was true. He tells me as adamantly as he possibly can that “IF” this is true he will disown his son. I am grateful, but I also realize that this is the only person my mother has told and not to protect or help me, but instead help herself. He alludes to how my mother threatened to use the abuse against him in the divorce proceedings. I am betrayed all over again. I disappear into thin air in that moment, my ghost self sees the phone hang in mid air while I die from this sick pain that hollows out my chest. It will be years; Really, YEARS before it is ever brought up again. Now only my mother, my step father and I know the pain and we all bury it further away. I seal it up, like the snow globe and carry on with life, pretty, puffy and pink like Strawberry Shortcake.

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I am a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over 20 years in practice. I am in love with people and our peculiarities.

12 thoughts on “The Telling: The First Moment the Universe Heard the Story of my Sexual Abuse”

  1. I wish I could hug that little girl and tell her everything is going to be ok. It feels immensely insignificant, but there are no real words that could offer comfort after such a tragedy.

  2. He can not hurt you anymore, you are a gremlin ninja warrior. Thank you for sharing, I hope this helps complete the healing process…

  3. I love you, Allie. I love that while your abuse used to be a huge part of your identity, that you now have it encapsulated in a small snow globe, unable to escape and hurt you ever again.

  4. Alicia, I am overwhelmed by this story. I had no idea you have been through this. I definitely will hug you when I see you again. You are an amazing and strong woman, and your past has allowed you to help so many others going through the same nightmare you went through.

  5. Reblogged this on AMentalHealthHack and commented:

    Saturday, April 12, 2014 @ 6:00 pm we host our 2nd Annual Phoenix Rising 5K. Come and stand in solidarity with victims and survivors of Sexual Assault. See my Reflections Psychotherapy FB Page for registration and sponsorship information. I look forward to your presence and participation in squashing the silence of trauma.

  6. So powerful. The weight I felt at 44 for a little girl holding on to the power of dismantling a step-father and step-son’s relationship made me let out a sigh of grief…for her. How do we get through? I’ll always wonder about that. Thanks for sharing this.

  7. Alicia ~
    I came to visit and saw this post, this sharing of your story. I know you shared it some time ago, but it touches my heart so; it resonates with me. I hug that child in my heart. I do.

    Truly, truly a Warrior Goddess you are! A Risen Phoenix! Thank you for being. ~~

    Stephanie ~

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