Shadows Of Abuse

I tried to find the perfect image for this post and came up empty, so I drew my own.

I tried to find the perfect image for this post and came up empty, so I drew my own.

My story of abuse starts early. It set off a chain reaction of abuse that I’m still trying to shake off.

I was sexually abused for over a year by a boarder (Monster #1) who lived in my house when I was seven years old. I won’t go into detail here, but there’s a reason that I can’t sleep near a window. There’s a reason that tying me up induces a panic attack.

Monster #1’s actions threw a shadow over the rest of my life. I’m still trying to escape it. I doubt that I ever will, at least, not entirely.

When I was in my early 20’s, I was in an abusive relationship with Monster #2. Unlike the first monster, this one started out charming and funny. It’s hard to think of him that way now, but at the time, he was. It was only later that his true sociopathic nature began to show. Over the course of a few years, he turned into a physically and mentally abusive attempted murderer.

Why didn’t you just leave? I used to fall into the category of people who would say, “I know if I was ever in an abusive relationship, I’d just leave.” I used to think that way before it happened to me, but it’s really not that simple. It rarely is. Their hold on us is far more involved than just a location. Even if abusers aren’t physically violent, the emotional abuse is just as bad, if not worse. Abusers constantly chip away at self-esteem. My abuser really had convinced me that I was worthless. He convinced me that I could not survive without him.

It was only towards the end, when he began strangling me, knocking out my teeth and giving me black eyes that I realized the opposite was true; I couldn’t survive with him. If I stayed, he was going to kill me. It was as simple as that. I was only able to muster the strength to get out because I had a friend visiting from out-of-town. If she hadn’t been there, it might not have been the end of the abuse. I might not be writing this now. She gave me the strength to say enough is enough. I talked about that night on my blog in the post called Hurt.

Monster #1 set me on a horrible path and Monster #2 finished the job. Monster #1 destroyed my childhood. He took my innocence and my ability to trust anyone. Monster #2 took what was left. Monster #2 ruined my finances, he stole everything I had of value, he took my friends away, he took my self-esteem and any sense of trust I may have had left. He nearly took my life.

For me, it’s pretty easy to blame my adult abuse on my childhood abuse. It’s easy to write it off as a domino effect of abuse, but who knows if that’s the case. I will never know and it’s not like it matters anyway. There are lots of people who end up in abusive relationships that don’t have a history like mine. What happened happened. The important thing is that it never happens to me or anyone else again.

My life after abuse has been spent trying to figure out what I can possibly do to avoid having more monsters in my life. When you’ve been a victim twice, well, it feels like you are a target. It seems as though I have an invisible sign hanging over me that says, “makes a great victim.” I’ve been trying to find that sign and destroy it.

I retreated into myself looking for answers. I found none. There were no answers inside of me, just pain and hurt, and above all, anger. I am overflowing with anger. I feed on it. I thrive on it. It keeps me going, but there’s got to be more. There’s got to be trust and acceptance and self-esteem in there, too. I just have to find it again.

I find it very difficult to trust people. I find it impossible not to get angry whenever I hear yet another story of abuse. I mourn the loss of my childhood. I mourn my innocence. I sober up when I realize just how close I came to losing my life. I hate. I hate so much that sometimes I feel like I might explode.

But I laugh instead. I laugh and cry and I listen to the birds sing and watch the clouds go by. I give my dog a hug. I take a very deep breath. And I spit it out. I spit on the hate and the fear and the pain that lives within me.

I want to protect those who are going through or have gone through similar things. I want to wrap them up in my wings and fly away, but before I can do that, I need to protect the little girl who cries inside of me. She is so very alone. She is so very sorry for allowing Monster #1 to change the course of our life, for allowing Monster #2 in the door. Even though I tell her she’s not to blame, she doesn’t believe it. I can feel her tugging at me as I write this. She needs mending before we can help anyone else. She needs to accept that she is not to blame. We’ll get there eventually.

About the Author

GoldfishJust another fish.

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53 comments

  1. Over the last few months I have grown to care deeply about you, as my friend. I had a hard time reading this, because it hurts me, because I feel as if I know you…we have walked a similar path… I give you a big hug..you are not alone. x Merry

    1. Aw, same here, Mer. Thanks. I wrote this weeks ago, so this isn’t how I’m feeling today if that’s any consolation. High five and big hugs. 🙂

  2. Gosh this made me tear up. I understand every word, from childhood onwards. We are however survivors now even though we will always carry the scars from our pasts. I think that everything I have been though has made me now stronger, more independent and determined to bring my son and my daughter up to show other people nothing but respect, and of course to avoid people who are manipulators. xxx

    1. I am so sorry that you understand. We are survivors. We are strong.

  3. Hey, you are one incredible lady. Give a warm hug to the 7-year old girl for me.

    1. Thanks! Will do.

    2. complicatedwaltz · · Reply

      This.

  4. Loved this post. Listening to the pain of the neglected, abused child inside of you is a hell of a thing to do (believe me, I know) but once you’re done, you’ll feel stronger than ever.

    I wish you all the strength you need on this journey and, even if I don’t know you, you can always reach out to talk if you like.

    1. Thank you so much. If there’s one positive of abuse, it’s that we are never alone.

      1. Beautiful, sad and so correct.

  5. Reblogged this on Fish Of Gold and commented:

    Read my second ever guest post over at Deliberate Donkey today. It’s not a very cheerful story, but hey, original art!

    1. Thank you for guesting here. And, yay!, original art. It’s descriptive, haunting, and all together perfect.

      1. Thanks for having me! You’ve been a lovely hostess. 🙂

        1. Mmmmm….hostess…now I want a Ding-Dong.

          1. Darn. Me too.

  6. First let me say as a child YOU DID NOT ALLOW MONSTER #1 to do anything, he TOOK FROM YOU!! I know I have been there and done that too I am 62 years old and I still suffer from the years of abuse sexually and verbally as a child then heap parent abandonment on top of all that (mother left me with abuser for seven yuears) when she came back I had no self esteem, worth or even knowledge of how to live without some man doing something to me. Still struggling with al that BUT I AM STRONGER now and getting stronger everyday thanks be to the Lord my savior Jesus Christ. secondly, the mindset to be abused was there for Monster #2 because of Monster #1 it was a pitfall you had to fall into, there was no way of avoiding it but now you are out and that is a true blessing! wishing you a healthy recovery. God Bless You.

    1. Adult-me is very well aware that I am not to blame for Monsters 1 or 2; it’s child-me that still thinks she’s in some way responsible for it all. She has no frame of reference. Rationally, I know that I’m not to blame for either the sexual abuse or the domestic abuse, but irrationally, it’s hard to believe that at times. Sometimes, I feel that the devastation of my self-esteem as a result of Monster 1 is, in some way, what let to Monster 2.

      I’m sorry for what you went through. My parents didn’t abandon me, but they brushed the abuse under the rug, which is almost as bad. I had to live with that betrayal. Lack of self-esteem is a tough one. I’m still working on that. It sucks that it never entirely goes away. All we can do is keep carrying on. We are survivors. We are strong. Thanks for the comment.

      1. Amen to the ‘it sucks and never goes away’ perhaps as we grow older and for me (somewhat) wiser, it iis easier to just cope but I am also emotional so I ‘feel’ the hurt, pain and sorrow each flashback brings with it, reliving it I guess is the only wayto heal from it if there is ever a full healing, I don’t know that as of yet. I do know I feel very compassionate and sorrowful when I read of others that suffered as well. God bless and Keep you:)

        1. The only way to get over it is to go through it. The best way to heal ourselves and others is to talk about it. I’m still not at the point where I can go into detail with my story. I still talk in generalities, but I’m working my way there.

          Every time I write a post like this, I’m astonished at how much kindness, understanding and support there is in the WP community and the world at large. We are not alone. Stay strong.

  7. twindaddy · · Reply

    Goldy, I’m sorry, so sorry, for all that you’ve endured. I still think the fact that you are a productive member of society after all that you’ve been through speaks volumes about your character and how strong of a woman you are. I truly believe that sharing your stories, as hard as that may be, will be helpful to someone who needs to hear it. So thank you, for sharing. Thank you for being you. And thank you for being so fucking awesome. You rock, my friend.

    1. Thanks, TD. You rock, too.

      It really is amazing I’m not an ax murdering psycho, isn’t it? I wonder at that sometimes.

      1. twindaddy · · Reply

        As I said, you’re strong.

        1. Yup. I can bench press at least 20 pounds. 😉

          1. twindaddy · · Reply

            You can kick my ass, then.

  8. My heart aches for that little girl and young woman. The art is very powerful, I could feel it. Sending support your way friend as always xo

    1. Thanks, dear. I know you understand.

      I used to have something like that art as a recurring nightmare as a kid. The shadows would start at the ceiling and slowly work their way down to me. It was terrifying.

      1. Oh my goodness, it would be terrifying in your dreams! Did it affect you at all creating it or help? xo

        1. Not sure. I just wanted that image for this post and couldn’t find it, so I just made it. I guess I didn’t really think about it. That nightmare has been a part of my life so long that it doesn’t really affect me anymore.

          1. I’m not sure if that’s good or not.

            1. Me either! 🙂

  9. As someone whose journey began more with one like your Monster #2, I send you hugs and ^5’s for being as wonderful as you are. And that artwork–I love it! You are very talented.

    1. Thank you! I’m sorry that you had a monster, too.

  10. barbmca · · Reply

    Great work. Hugs to anyone who can help some one else from their story of abuse. I still can not write much about mine. I have been doing mine in the form of, poetry. Surprisingly my poetry is almost my life life story. It takes real courage to put it all out there for the real word to read. Great work and I will check out your blog

    1. Thanks. I think it’s important to get it out. If yours comes in poetry, so be it. I still can’t really talk in detail about my sexual abuse either, but I’m working on it. Baby steps.

      Thanks for the comment!

  11. I have faith that you’ll get there!

    1. Thanks. 🙂

  12. You’re an absolute talented artist. Do keep good care of that little child. Here’s hoping one day she can defeat those monsters, turn around and smile.

    1. Thank you, dear.

  13. Aw sunshine. HUGS. I haven’t been where you have, but I feel for you. Abuse comes in all forms, and I’m so sorry you had to go through this. I love you Big Squeezie Hug for you!

    1. Hugs back. 🙂

      1. Good. I’ll always have some for you. Always.

  14. You know where to find me whenever you need an inbox to listen to you, or if you just need cyber hugs.

    1. Thanks, buddy.

      1. Anytime, my dear. Anytime.

  15. I understand about the “sign” thank you for sharing. Those monsters seem to be everywhere waiting for their next victim.

    1. It’s scary knowing that you could be blind to the signs. You could very easily live your whole life in a bubble, but that would be letting the monsters win.

  16. I don’t wish to say much about this except that I know exactly where you’re coming from, my friend. You have my respect and admiration for surviving such horrific abuse and emerging stronger and full of life.
    By the way, terrific artwork! My daughter could use your talent; her book series needs illustrations badly, but funds are limited.
    Once again, all the best to you. Yours is a strong, courageous soul.

    1. Thank you. No matter what horrible things humans do to each other, we always find a way to survive.

      1. We’re resilient devils.

        1. True. I think that’s part of the problem. 🙂

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