SURVIVING THE MEMORIES SITE FOR SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT
DAWN'S STORY

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Heal by Heather Nova

I
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Where to begin my story - well I guess its best to go back to the first memory I hold, and that will be at about 6 and a half years of age.

At the age 6 and a half I lived with my mum and my older brother, and my mum was just about to give birth to my other brother. We kind of lived as an extended family, only my nanna and grandad lived above us in a flat.
My older brother has epilepsy and was somewhat of a demanding child, my younger brother when he was born was a challenging child also and as such my mum had little time for me. so I spent a large proportion of my time effectivly living with my nanna and grandad, I used to sleep over there approximatly 4 nights a week, and often went up to my nanna's house to help with the jobs and walk the dog with my grandad.

I had a good relationship with my nanna and was clearly the apple of her eye and the favourite grandchild, my relationship with my grandad was good to - and in a strange way he reminded me of father christmas, since he had a real beard, although it wasn't white it was orange, because it was tarnished from smoking all the time. he was also a cuddly kind of man, with a big fat beer belly, he was a friendley person who thought a lot of me.
My grandad and myself used to do special things together, like walk to the farm and to the butchers shop to get some bones for the dog, he was an overly affectionate man always offering cuddles.

My first memory of the abuse is clear and occured in a secluded field as my grandad and myself walked to the farm. The field was away from the road and always very secluded, but I always felt safe, after all I was with my grandad.

It was a lovely summers day, and I was nearing my seventh birthday, grandad and I walked through the field as we would normally do, but halfway through the journey he asked me to stop and sit with him, which I did - thinking we were only resting for a while. But he had other plans. he exposed himself to me and masturbated himself, before touching me inappropriatly.

He told me it was a secret and we musn't tell mummy or nanna as they would be cross and of course I believed him. After the initial abuse in the field, I recall several instances of him touching me, him making me touch him (both in sexual senses), often this was instigated through games, so I was made to believe it was normal. For a while it only remained at touching - but one day I walked into the bathroom whilst he was using the toilet and he made me come in, remove my underwear and sit on his knee, where he penetrated me, I was 7 and a half I think. I only remember being confused and hurting physically and bleeding, but grandad said I would be okay, and to not tell mum or nanna. I remember I was staying at nanna's house at the time, grandad dealt with the blood stained underwear and no one assumed anything was wrong. That was the first incidence of penetration.
He penetrated me once more at a later date, this involved him making me give him oral sex and full penetration, again I hurt physically, again grandad made me keep it a secret.

The touching and sloppy (adult) kisses continued for a while, before I eventually disclosed the abuse to my dad.

My dad went mad, he told my mum and nanna, who were equally annoyed. My dad and uncle then dealt with my grandad using their fists, he was made to leave town.
the authorities, as in police and/or social workers were not involved, as my mum feared that I would be removed and placed in foster care. I received no counselling and the abuse was effectivly ignored in the fact that my mum and dad never spoke about it.

Sadly the abuse doesn't end there, I became the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of my friends father - this involved just touching, but it still remains engrained in my memory.
I also was the victim of rape by a stranger, this occured two days after my 18th birthday, as I was holidaying in Spain with a friend. For a long time I blamed myself for this rape as I was drunk, but I now realise it was mis-guided blame and that I was not to blame, I said NO to him and he chose to ignore me.

I have not until today disclosed the later childhood sexual abuse at the hands of my friends dad or the rape. Writing it though has allowed me to gain a sense of power back.

Experiencing these things in my life have left me in the main, a very confused and muddled individual, but as I progress through counselling and pursue my journey into healing, I am changing - but I'm changing into a stronger, emphathetic individual that realises I was not to blame.

My story I guess, is a story in progress, the abuse does not continue, but the memories run deep and are hurtful, but the healing journey I'm taking challenges me, but changes me and gives me back my sense of power and self worth.

I'm changing from a caterpillar tightly wound in a cocoon to a beautiful free butterfly, that one day will free myself from the cocoon that has bound me so tightly, and then I will fly away to a new better place.

"Victory is won not in miles but in inches. Win a little now, hold your ground, and later, win a little more."
~ Louis L'Amour

 
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