For me, this brings up a lot of raw emotion to the surface. It is a very complex question and no one’s answer will be the same. I am going to honestly tell you my personal thoughts and feelings about this subject.
When the first attack happened, I felt alone and isolated but as I experienced more attacks, the more control my attackers had over me. My mind became a prison. A place of darkness, fear and the daily painful memories of my trauma, continuously going round and round in my head. There was no break. I couldn’t tell anyone at the school because it wasn’t the most supportive place and mentally I was broken, too scared to talk in case the abuse got worse because I was at the same school (Boarding House) as my attackers, there was no escape.
The mind is a powerful, creative, intelligent part of the brain but when a traumatic event happens, all colour, brightness and all of your emotions change, you become a “ghost”, a “shell”. You don’t feel human. Because how can you? When another human being has harmed you in such a degrading and malicious way. I felt unclean, disgusting and part of myself was lost, taken and the journey to find these missing pieces is ongoing.
Until six months ago, I still thought the abuse was my fault. It is a vicious cycle that seems to be impossible to break free from but by realising it wasn’t me, I never asked to be hurt, I never allowed my attackers to hurt me, but to fight them off when there was two of them, when I was a lot smaller and weaker. I was overpowered, they were physically stronger.
In the months and years that followed my self-esteem hit rock bottom and the self-destruction began. I thought I wasn’t worth a life and I so I stayed trapped in the trauma. Until last year when I disclosed everything, I began to slowly feel free.
The question I asked myself, “Was the abuse my fault?” The answer is no. I have always known that deep down but it is only recently that I truly believe it. One of the reasons I think that it took me so long to come to that conclusion was because I felt safe enough to talk about the events.
As we grow up we make mistakes and we continue to do so throughout our lives. The one mistake I made is never telling anyone about the abuse but logically, I know, the answer to that: “I was scared, I didn’t trust anyone, and I didn’t have a voice” but I do now. I believe the attacks were not my fault but I think this is a natural thought process of recovery. It is unpleasant and takes a lot of soul searching but it is worth it.
It has taken a long time to get to this point. If I am honest I never thought I would. It feels great and gives me hope for the future. I know there will be difficult times ahead but I am ready to face them. I have the support and love around me, which is one of the main things that keeps me moving forward.
I will never understand why the attackers hurt me, I will never get these answered but instead of thinking and wondering why it happened and was it my fault. I am going to focus on the future and not look back. I have spent years in my attacker’s shadows and I will not spend any more time in the darkness. For me, this is massive step forward by taking control of my life and not letting the past, however traumatic and horrible define me. When I was unwell and in hospital my Dad would always say “you are strong, you are beautiful and you are loved”. I never truly believed that until now.