Dear Dr. Archer,
During my childhood, I suffered physical, mental and sexual abuse. The first two were my parents. The latter, I suffered at the hands of my cousin for four years. I finally found the courage to stand up to him at the age of 17 by threatening to go to the police. No one knows about this except my friend, whom I told last week, at the age of 23.
As well as being abused, I was also sexually assaulted on two trips abroad. I have suffered mentally on my own and have not revealed the sexual abuse to anyone until last week. I was depressed during my time at school, and I hit rock bottom after I left school at 19 in 2008 and struggled emotionally.
I do not have a good relationship with my mum; we always argue, and I believe since the sexual abuse I have not and can't stand talking to my dad, which in truth pains me, but despite trying, I can't seem to get over that barrier. I'm disliked by the majority of my extended family.
As I mentioned before, I told a friend of the abuse. I didn't go into huge detail, but I did tell him. His response was for me to move on and forget about it and to be strong. I know I have to do that but the one person I trusted is telling me to 'move on' when I guess I need him to say 'its okay'.
I told him I might seek counseling, but he said I shouldn't, that it wouldn't do any good. I guess I feel really hurt because I confided in him but didn't get his support. A part of me feels like he doesn't want to know more, yet I feel like he's the only one I can talk to.
Honestly, I feel like a mug trying to tell him! How can one move on from something like this? But in some ways, I have, I guess.
I'm working in my chosen career in IT, and I'm working hard within the community, but mentally I struggle. Sometimes I really have my awful days when I cry for hours, think negatively even when trying so hard not too. I even contemplate suicide but I'm too weak to do that.
I am so angry at everyone, including my family, and it shows when I argue with parents or with uncles who can't take it when I voice an opinion. It makes me really angry that they don't know their nephew abused me. I don't get on really well with any of my family and sometimes that hurts.
I want to move on from the anger, learn ways of trying to be positive when I'm depressed but also find out what should I do about my 'trusted' friend? He knows my darkest secret yet the only thing he says is move on and be strong.
Do I confront him and say I need him, or just leave it where it is? I take it day by day and try to be positive, but it's difficult. I smile in the hope I feel better.
Consider this staggering statistic: In America, an estimated 905,000 children were victims of child abuse or neglect in 2006. Sometimes the scars are visible, but most of the time they're not, but that doesn't make it less devastating. The result of this abuse is often depression, anxiety, high risk behavior and an increased risk of abusing alcohol or drugs.
Some children can go through abuse and come out unscathed, while others are deeply, emotionally crippled throughout their adult years. It depends on the nature, frequency and time period of the abuse, as well as the support system at the time.
Whatever the reason, TH, it is evident that you need therapy to deal with this. It’s tearing your life apart. You have suffered long enough, and now it's time to take care of YOU. Find a therapist who specializes in childhood sexual and physical abuse. It is impossible to change what has happened, but it is not impossible to learn how to cope and leave it in the past.
Speaking of your friend, please forgive him for not saying what you needed to hear. He is at a loss, as many are when they hear such a story. A non-professional is just not programmed with how to deal with such a situation. He may have wanted to help but have been afraid of saying the wrong thing -- you never know. He's your friend and you should never regret laying your deepest hurt in his lap. Forgive him.
Go to therapy; and work on dealing with this; it will indeed set you free. You can read more at the website Child Sexual Abuse to understand why you feel the way you do, and how these hurts can be so difficult to put to rest. I truly wish you the best.