I try to pride myself as a fair person. A person who always wants to get to the truth. And that is no different when we talk about sexual misconduct, and childhood trauma and abuse. I don’t think I have written any in-depth substance about my childhood sex abuse and trauma, as I’ve only begun to start opening up and sharing some of my past around this topic. And another reason for why? It is similar to the reason many rape victims don’t press charges of their rapists. Much of the reason I now share more about this is that it was some of the underlying issue that I started using Gambling Addiction and Alcohol in the first place. I was trying to escape the ugly feelings of my past childhood pain when it came back to haunt me in my adult life. I used gambling to NOT FEEL anymore, to just zone out and not feel anything.
And labeling and Stigma around this issue has not really been fully addressed fully, nor really talked about. It’s like when rape victims decide it’s just not worth pressing charges against the accuser, they are afraid, and may not want to appear in court or a trial against their rapist, Why? Because it seems our system, and court systems want to turn it around and blame the victim most times. The victim gets painted in such a negative light, that the women feel they have done something wrong, or were deserving of the rape, that’s why. I know I wouldn’t put myself through that either. And I felt such shame as a little girl about what was happening to me when I was sexually abused.
Our little minds just don’t understand.
No, it’s not fair, but most of the time it seems to happen that way. I also felt that way in my adulthood when in therapy the very first time, when my pain and hurt came back with such force to haunt my present. I remember feeling those ‘ugly feelings from threats by my abuser’ ….
“If you tell anyone, they will think your telling lies, so no one will believe you anyway”.
“I will come back and hurt the people you love most”… “Besides, your dad is a good friend of mine, he won’t take your side, he’ll listen to me because your just a kid” …
Yes, they will threaten, or give you almost any excuse for you not to say a word. Promises of candy, ice cream, amusement park or arcade, anything. Because when your just a little girl, and you get confused, or not understand what to believe, makes you feel ugly. When you don’t know about how an abusers will groom you, and have not been taught that what he is doing to you is wrong.
So now in the headlines about rape & sexual assault allegations that happened a decade or more ago, have now resurfaced, with rumors flying around the media again about Actor & Comedian, Bill Cosby. Was he really America’s father in 80’s & 90’s? Or was he just another masked abuser? So it got me thinking of my own nightmarish past from childhood sex abuse as a little girl, and went on for 3 years. Here is what has floated around for sometime now about, America’s TV Dad, Bill Cosby.
“One of Cosby’s accusers, Barbara Bowman, leveled allegations of sexual assault against him in interviews and in an online column for the Washington Post. Bowman wrote that in 1985, she was 17 and an aspiring actress when Cosby “brainwashed me into viewing him as a father figure, and then assaulted me multiple times.” Now another woman came forward claiming Mr. Cosby raped her to, a model, back in the early 80’s.
Cosby, who was never criminally charged in any case, settled a civil suit in 2006 with another woman over an alleged incident two years before”, and this all seemed to happen on a radio show Bill Cosby was doing recently. He was asked about his past allegations, and had no comment.
Now I know there is a big difference between being sexually abused, and being sexually raped. Most times rape is a one time forced occurrence. Being sexually abused is usually more than a one time contact, and the abuser grooms the person being touched and abused inappropriately. But either way, both are wrong, it’s traumatizing, and should never happen.
Currently there are 80,000 reported cases of child sex abuse yearly, and we know that has to be a lot higher due to the unreported cases. Child sexual abuse can take place within the family, by a parent, step-parent, sibling or other relative; or outside the home, such as, by a friend, neighbor, child care person, teacher, or stranger. When sexual abuse has occurred, a child can develop a variety of distressing feelings, thoughts and behaviors.
I know this to be true because I have had many of those distressed feelings, thoughts and behaviors. It’s why I’m still having problems again with PTSD, and back in therapy from having nightmares again. Another fact I experienced, at 16 1/2, abused children are 25% more likely to experience teen pregnancy. For girls, the likelihood of teen pregnancy increases with each adverse childhood experience. That’s all I say about that.
I do know from personal experience, having been sexually abused, I feel it made me more interested in boys way before I needed to be in my late teens and into young adulthood.
I also know it was some of the reasons my first couple relationships were with older men in my mid and late teens. I feel it was the ‘mixed up thinking’ from my years of abuse, that I was seeking that safe feeling I never got from my father when the abuse was happening. Also the unconditional love I never got all through my life from both my parents. No I don’t blame my parents for that. We just seek that out in our relationships. I felt that sexual acts was a natural part of a relationship, what men wanted, and all the girls did it. Not being raised, or told differently.
But through therapy, I learned it was not so. I learned that what happened to me was not my fault. But, even going through therapy, and trying to really process what happened to me, I still was having PTSD effects. And I know it played a part of me turning to addicted gambling, and using gambling to escape those feelings, to not think or feel all those ugly feelings when they kept coming back through the years. Then I started drinking heavy when I gambled as well. I could go days without drinking, but when I sat behind a slot machine, or video poker machine, I had to drink.
It seemed the combination of the feelings I got from both helped me forget all those nasty things that happened to me as a little girl in those dark closets, bathroom, or outside in the shed. So I kept gambling and doing it until I became addicted. And when I finally got help and treatment for those addictions, we peeled away the layers of crap, and it was gambling addiction that was my real problem. And some of the underlying issues for me turning to addiction was stemming from my childhood trauma and abuse. Not all of it, but it did contribute to my addiction, and mental/emotional disorders.
More Facts Of Childhood Sex Abuse:
A child who is the victim of prolonged sexual abuse usually develops low self-esteem, a feeling of worthlessness and an abnormal or distorted view of sex. The child may become withdrawn and mistrustful of adults, and can become suicidal.
Some children who have been sexually abused have difficulty relating to others except on sexual terms.
Mental Health Disorders, Addictions, & Related Issues:
- Risk for intimate partner violence
- Smoking & drinking at an early age
- Suicide attempts
- Alcoholism and alcohol abuse
- Illicit drug abuse*Scary that I had problems with 5 out of the 6 listed. I was never a drug user*
In one study, 80% of 21-year-olds who reported childhood abuse met the criteria for at least one psychological disorder. No child is psychologically prepared to cope with repeated sexual stimulation. Even a two or three-year old, who cannot know the sexual activity is wrong, will develop problems resulting from the inability to cope with the overstimulation.
So you’re wondering why I happen to mention Mr. Cosby in all of this.
Well, my point is that abusers can come in many forms. Many can be actors, lawyers, policemen, doctors, dentists, or even a member of your own family or family friend. They can be well-respected people on our communities. They are not always a pedophile, or a person on a police list. And they are good at grooming the child they are interested in.
Yes, I know how disturbing this all sounds, but look, … if we don’t start talking this issue, talk more about this in an open forum, then those of us who have been effected may continue to feel shame, blame, guilt, then we think we did something to deserve the trauma that had happened to us. We feel we have no voice, or that no one cares.
WE who are the victims, the abused, the scarred, the damaged, have a right for our voices to be heard! We need not hide in shame any longer. Just because this happened to me, stole some of my childhood, made me very distrusting, withdrawn, and yes attempted suicide twice in my adulthood, doesn’t mean I have to live as a victim any longer.
I damn well refuse too! And for those who have never been through this horrific experience? I say to you, “don’t judge”, “stop making me feel as if I am a damaged person” … We need to diminish the STIGMA around these issues once and for all.
So, become educated, become informed of the warning signs. Make sure parents, you talk to your young children about, “Stranger Danger,” and about inappropriate touching.
If we don’t teach our children that it’s OK to TELL, then you have a much better chance of knowing that it’s happening, and get them the help they need. That way they won’t be carrying this with them into adulthood.
National Child Sexual Abuse Helpline ~ Darkness to Light provides a toll-free number for individuals living in the United States who need local information and resources about sexual abuse. Any individual, child or adult who needs resources about sexual abuse can call the Helpline.
Darkness to Light
“Please, Lets Just Talk About It” ….
God Bless All,
Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author of Addicted To Dimes ...