The deep scars of abuse

As a child, I was sexually abused by my stepbrother, from age 10 onwards. When I was 19 I was sexually assaulted by one of my best friends. You can say I have had my fair share of shittyness when it comes to these topics, and I would not wish it upon anyone. The abuse when I was 10 triggered Anorexia. I started developing boobs in the summer of my tenth year and my older stepbrother made a comment that he liked the starting curves. I was so scared I completely lost my appetite. I was nauseous all the time and could not keep food down at all. Later that became a conscious decision. It was my coping meganism.

It took a while for me to be able to function around people after that abuse. I used to skip gym classes at school because we had one class where we had to stand on our hands, and I couldn’t do it without someone holding my legs, but the thought of someone else touching me scared me so much, that I couldn’t go to class. I couldn’t do the hugging my friends did every time they ran into eachother, I couldn’t deal with someone touching my shoulder, or touching me in any way, shape or form. This included my parents and siblings. Because of this, I steered clear of any romantic involvement with anyone. I did have a crush, which started at 13. The boy’s name was Floris, and he was a classmate. He was also the first boy who didn’t want anything from me. Other classmates wanted my notes, I was always a good student (except for math, but honestly, who is? 😛 ) Floris didn’t want anything. We had similar interests, both had a great love for Tolkien’s work (I’m a massive Lord of the Rings nerd). We never became more than friends, but hanging out with him did do something to break down the barriers I built up against people.

When I was 18, my (younger) sister and I went out to the cinema, and later into town (Legal drinking age in Holland at the time was 16, and she was 17). She had arranged for one of her best mates and his brother to meet us in a bar, the plan was to, without my knowledge, set me up with her best friends brother. I had a good time, though I wasn’t interested in the brother, my sister said it was good to ”try things out” (like going on a date) with people, as a sort of practice for the time where I would fancy someone.

The progress I made got erased in one night, when I was 19. I had started uni, but still lived at home and it was the summer holidays. I was over at my best friends house, we sat with a bunch of friends in the garden, with a fire going and copious amount of alcohol. I’ve never been a big drinker because I am a massive lightweight, and don’t like how I am when I’ve had a few. I lose my filter, say anything that comes to mind, and start letting people in my personal space. I also had to work the next day. I hadn’t eaten that day, my eating disorder, though no longer hardcore anorexia, was still present, so the two martini’s I drank kicked in hard. I ended up falling asleep on a bench swing in the garden next to the fire. I woke up to my friend doing things to me. I couldn’t move. Not because of any physical restraints, I was just a prisoner in my own head. I waited till he was done and when he had fallen asleep I ran home. I had a shower straightaway, and went to work. I wrote him an email saying I was very upset and angry about what happened, and got a reply where he said he genuinely did not remember doing any of it, and apologised if he did. I lost my entire group of friends because of it, dropped out of uni, quit my job and spiralled into bulimia. After 10 months of sitting at home doing nothing I ran away to England in the spring of 2011.

I was once again a sad heap of person who could not have anyone come near her. I started working in a call center, where the desks were small and lots of people were in my personal space (admittedly, that used to be half a metre and now had turned to a metre) It was impossible for people to not go in my personal space with the small desks in the office.

I met my current boyfriend at work. I liked him from the moment we met, and accepted I fancied him in the spring of 2012. We got together that summer, and, against all my expectations, I was able to have a relationship and everything that came with it. I told him about the abuse, and he has always been understanding of it. I never had any problems with the physical part of our relationship until last January.

Last January, while receiving intensive treatment for my bulimia, I started getting flashbacks to when I was 4 years old. Images of my father doing things that he shouldn’t do. I could go from perfectly normal to hysterical screaming and crying in a second. I started getting panick attacks (something I used to not believe in, I always thought people were just faking it). I ended up ringing up my mum one night and asked what the hell had happened to me when I was 4 because I seemed to only get pieces of the puzzle and I had always had an immaculate memory, and I didn’t understand how I never remembered these things before. She was quiet for just a moment too long, so I knew it was true. She told me it happened after the divorce, when she had left us with our dad, and thinks my dad used me as a replacement for her. She said she brought it to court but my dad had always denied it and she had no proof apart from strange behaviour from her 4 year old.

I told about the flasbacks in my therapy sessions and am still dealing with the fact that my own father abused me. My therapist says I never dealt with any of the abuse that happened to me, that I just put it in a box somewhere in my mind, and that working on recovering from my eating disorder forced me to look at all the other issues in my life, and that’s why the abuse from when I was 4 started coming up again.

The abuse has left scars deeper than the ones I have of sticking a blade in my wrist. I see myself as someone who is broken beyond repair, like that saying about the mirror. You can fix the cracks but they’re always gonna be visible. I can’t even describe what exactly happened to me. I can’t say it, I can’t whisper it, I can’t type or write it. I can’t express the details of the abuse in any way. It never used to bother me because I had locked it in a box that I never looked in anyway, but recovery means looking at everything, and now I’ve opened the box again I can’t unsee it. It occupies my head, and I haven’t got the place for it, as I have a degree to finish and an eating disorder to recover from. It makes me suicidal again. It makes me want to start cutting again. It makes me not eat. It makes me throw up my food and I hate myself for letting these peoples actions control my life, even now.

My brain is not made to cope with all these things at the same time. I have to choose. I have to choose between my mental health, or my degree. My degree, which is costing me 9000 pounds per year. My Dutch student finance does not cover everything. So it’s money I have to pay because I, as a foreigner, am not entitled to English student finance. My Dutch student finance also runs out after this academic year, and there is no hope in hell I can raise 9k over a summer. And then there is my mental health. I just spent 6 weeks in treatment at the local psychiatric hospital to sort out my eating disorder. And even though, bulimia wise, I’m actually, surprisingly, doing OK, it turns out I have so much other crap I have to process. But I have not got the time for it.

I’ve chosen for my degree. I am fully aware that I might have a complete mental breakdown. I’m just hoping that I can hold it together till after my degree is finished.


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