S.O.S. Part 2: My Journey of Recognizing, Remembering, and Processing Abuse

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This story is part of Safe Church Ministry's SOS series. In this post, an anonymous CRC congregant shares his second blog of his journey of recognizing, remembering, and processing the abuse he endured. Read Part 1: My Journey of Recognizing, Remembering, and Processing Abuse

So here is the second part of my story. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunate for me, I have some big gaps in my memory. Apparently this is not unusual for abuse survivors. I have friends who remember everything and I feel sorry for them. I’ve struggled enough with the memories I do have. The crazy part is the enemy wants to convince you because you can’t remember it didn’t happen, but I’ve learned A + B = C. If you know B & C, you know A even if you can’t remember it.

Obviously I can’t give a day by day account, but I’ll try to give you a glimpse into what life was like for me. You may notice a slow spiral downward, which is also another common trait in abuse survivors.

I was given up for adoption at birth by my biological mom who was engaged to be married. I have some Indigenous blood in me. I went into foster care and was adopted by “Christian” parents. In my adopted family I was a middle child. My dad was a man who had a temper and was quick to lose it. He took his anger out on me and another sibling who was also adopted. My dad was emotionally and physically abusive, but as a young boy you don’t know any different and you assume that was what every dad was like. He was also a racist and often threatened to bring me back to the reserve where they found me! Fortunately for me, I never  wound up in the hospital because of my dad’s physical abuse, but my siblings weren't so lucky, they wound up in the hospital on two occasions because of my dad’s abuse.

Looking back I know pornography played a big roll in my troubled life. I recall first finding a pornographic magazine when I was six or seven years old. I can’t remember where I found it. It seems like that was just the start. Throughout my young life and into my early teens I constantly found pornography, sometimes whole stacks of it. I got caught with some of it once and all my dad said was “You shouldn’t read the stories.” Even then I knew there was something wrong with that statement.

When I was in grade seven life finally changed for me. I was growing and for the first time I could outrun my dad. He chased me for what seemed like miles but he didn’t catch me. I finally had an escape if I needed it. I don’t know if there was a correlation or not but Grade 7 was also the first time I got drunk. Within a year or two, I was smoking pot and as I became older the drugs I used were getting stronger and more potent. I couldn’t say no to a party, especially one that would have alcohol and/or drugs. I hung around with guys that came from similar types of home as I did. I believe that was the common bond, even though we didn’t know it at the time.

I was five or six years old when I experienced an event that, when looking back, may have actually saved my life. I was naked and cut myself after I resisted a punishment. The cut was deep enough that blood sprayed on my naked body. It was such a traumatic experience that to this day I can’t deal with blood. This event I believe saved my life because it prevented me from using needle drugs. There was no way I could stick a needle in my arm. Even today experiencing a blood test is an unpleasant experience.

Probably the most difficult thing for me was dealing with same sex attraction. It seemed to swing on a pendulum, sometimes completely out of mind, other times front and center and occupying most of my mind. It wasn’t like I was suddenly attracted to the same sex, it just seemed like it was a part of my fabric. So because my father was a very legalistic person, it made me question whether God was real or not. This was my thought process at the time: “If God didn’t make ‘junk’, then I shouldn’t exist; yet I existed, so then, He can’t be real because I exist.” So for me I often thought Christianity was just a crutch for people too weak to handle their own circumstances, they needed something to prop them up, or to lean on.

By the time I was 17 I had been kicked out of the house several times and by 18 years old I was permanently on my own. By this time I had a reputation for being on the wild side. If you asked me at the time, I was just having fun. However, I slowly started to run with a rougher and rougher crowd. Like I said earlier, abuse seems to put a target on your back.

Once, I was in a store looking at some pornography. When I came out of the store, two guys quite a bit older than me were suddenly chatting me up and asking me if I want to come to their place and party. I said sure, I go to their place and they give me a beer. The next thing I know, I wake up naked and alone in a room. I can hear that there is a party going on in the next room, it sounds like a big crowd. I’m trying to grasp what happened. I gather my clothes, get dressed, and sneak out of the apartment. I’m walking to my car, thoughts racing through my head. By the time I’ve walked 2 or 3 blocks to my car, I realize there is something terribly wrong. My shorts are soaking wet and stuff is running down my leg. I make it to my car, get in, and start crying. What just happened? A voice in my head says you idiot, what do you think happened? You asked for it! I swore to myself to never tell what happened. 

Every time I drink or get high, I go back to that day. I can’t get it out of my head. Two years later I go back to the area where it happened, about the same time of day, just walking around trying to make sense of it. Trying to replay and subconsciously change the outcome. I wound up in a bar in the area, had several drinks. All of a sudden I felt like my head was starting to spin. Someone came up to me and asked me if I was okay and if I wanted some fresh air. I agreed, but I felt like I wasn't really conscious. I staggered around with this person. I then woke up and was outside! I was in a park, and a woman was yelling at me, “Are you okay?” She seemed scared to come near me. Suddenly I realized why: my shorts were down to my ankles. I’m so embarrassed, what happened? I jumped up while pulling up my shorts and ran, I kept running trying to remember where my car was. It was 4:30 or 5:00 am, the light from the early morning sun was just coming up. I got to my car and again it hit me, this was a repeat. I swore at myself, “You are such an idiot! What is it about me that makes me a target? Why does this keep happening to me??”

It wasn’t till years later that I found out that my drinks in both instances had been “spiked” with GHB, also know as the “date rape” drug.

Life kept going. I went from one relationship to another, most ended because “I was too intense”, or I "partied too hard” or “I needed to get my stuff together.” I saw some of my friends from school getting married, settling down and that life looked appealing to me, but I can’t erase what happened to me. It continued to haunt me. Eventually I seemed to find a balance, I became what’s called a functioning addict. I was stable enough to keep a job, and go a few weeks without getting high, but eventually I do.

I met a Christian girl and she was stable, solid and it felt good to have some stability. I put on a good show, I know what to say but in my mind I’m not convinced God is real, I think He’s a crutch for weak people. I felt like I may be going into a better season in life, and I felt it was because of this Christian girl, she seemed to have had a positive influence on my life. So, we got married, had kids, and at times things were good but eventually the depression started to sweep in and I started thinking the world would be a better place without me in it. I thought about suicide often. The excitement of getting married and having kids was starting to wear off and I struggled more and more. My drug use started to increase and it started affecting my family life. My wife knew something was wrong, but I’m good at hiding things. Getting high slowly was less exciting, less fun, and I clearly remember thinking on more than one occasion, “This is it? Is this all there is to life? This really sucks!” 

I think that might have been when the start towards a new path began… (part three coming soon!)

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It takes such courage to tell a story such as yours. Thank you for sharing; it helps us to understand what how harmful abuse is and how we can support those who suffer abuse.