CHILD sexual abuse can have severe repercussions on the victim’s life – causing anxiety, depression, personality disorders, drug addiction or alcoholism. Today Roxanne tells her story. “It is hard to understand what goes on in another person’s mind. I’ve heard it said that we each have a pattern to our train of thought. Unless we recognise the pattern and consciously examine it, we will continue to see things in the same way, make the same assumptions, be they correct or false, and live contentedly with our analysis of what we believe. It has also been said that we can change the pattern, but it is challenging to do.
At times my train of thought consumes me. It is triggered every time I see a father showing affection to his young daughter. I worry about how he might view the little girl in his mind’s eye; what is he thinking? Is he her protector of her potential molester? Do child abusers single out their prey from young? or do they act on the spur of the moment when the urge overcomes them or if the opportunity presents itself?
It’s tough to imagine what goes on in another person’s mind. I wish I could stop thinking negatively, but due to my experience as a child, these thoughts are with me, and if I could change the pattern, I would do so in a flash.
I find the worse thing about trauma is when you believe it is under control and you’re going about your everyday business, then ‘BAM’. It is triggered by the slightest, most unexpected incident or circumstance.
A smell, a song, an innocent word spoken by a child, and you are reliving the past with instant flashbacks. Apart from these sensory memories, a father-daughter relationship sends red flag signals to my brain. It is by far the most potent trigger.
Once again, I am a small girl, sitting on my father’s lap playing with my favourite toy. A warm, secure feeling envelopes me.
I am safe and loved until I begin feeling uncomfortable. ‘Daddy, you are hurting me, don’t do that…daddy stop’. He’d let me go after a while and send me outside to play, and play I would, totally unaware that I was violated, abused and humiliated by a person I love and trust; A person who should protect and love me unconditionally.
When I first met my husband- to – be I was sceptical, there are so many unreliable men in the world, and marriage was never part of my plan. But he was serious and spoke about marriage and starting a family six months into our relationship. I was not ready for such a commitment. The traumatic era of my life still plagued me constantly. In desperation, I visited a therapist.
The therapist laid the negative chapter of my life before me a little at a time, and yes, I could see that I am blameless; I was a small child who lacked the mental capacity to know better. I trusted my father. I grew up believing that our bond is indelible – that the trust, love and respect I felt for my father were reciprocated.
But he shattered my beliefs. I had questions that needed answers and so many doubts and insecurities to confront. We tackled them one at a time, and eventually, I found a new place and space in my mind where I could function.
Before I finally agreed to be a wife, my mind went through an elaborate thought process for months. Could I trust another man? Were my feelings genuine? What if he betrayed me like my father? It took time for me to come to terms with the fact that nothing in life is guaranteed. I have to make the best of each day and stay positive and genuine to my pledge as a dutiful spouse.
One year later, I am lying on the examination table with my husband by my side. He is eager to know the sex of our unborn child, but my heart is racing with fear. The sonographer scans my belly with her instrument. “It’s a girl. She says happily, and my heart sinks.
Giving birth to a child is the most phenomenal experience. It is hard to believe that a microscopic sperm can fertilise a tiny egg, and this small, perfectly-formed person is the result. I held my new-born daughter to my chest with mixed emotions. Outwardly I was laughing with joy, but inwardly I was crying with mental anguish. What would be her fate?
When her father held her, she responded to his touch, and his eyes shone with joy. He whispered to her gently, ‘I love you, baby girl. But what kind of love? I found myself thinking. There goes my mind once again, wandering back to my traumatic past. Why can’t I just enjoy this moment?
Staying positive and aiming to change the pattern to my train of thought is an ongoing challenge I intend to win. Remnants of the past still haunt me. But I have an understanding husband, a beautiful, innocent daughter and every intention of reaching my goal”.
A professional therapist or psychologist can offer respite and/or healing from traumatic experiences and other mental disorders. Call the Childcare and Protection Agency (227 4420) for information.
If you are concerned about the welfare of a child call the CPA hotline on 227 0979 or write to us at email@example.com
A MESSAGE FROM THE CHILDCARE AND PROTECTION AGENCY,
MINISTRY OF HUMAN SERVICES AND SOCIAL SECURITY