(Trigger warning for violence, sexual, physical, emotional, and spiritual abuse.)
I am an abuse survivor. When I was a child, I was exposed to a pedophile. Then the pedophile used my body repeatedly, rendering me psychologically injured and scared. He managed to engage me, groom me, and then use me. When he stopped assaulting me the fourth time, he terrified me so much that I never told a soul until I was in college seeing my first counselor. I was 20.
I used to count 4 instances of abuse on one hand, but have since been able to see that abuse is more than just the assault itself. I was assaulted four times, but I was abused far more often as I lived with the constant stressor of social and sexual deviance in my home life. It still makes my mind into a bit of a pretzel when I think of it in this new way, but I’m practicing and it gets easier each time.
So now, instead of saying “I was sexually abused 4 times”, I simply say that I lived with a pedophile who used my body. He used me sexually when he groped me, but he also used me in a myriad of other ways. He manipulated me, he intimidated me, he lied to me, and many other unhealthy, hurtful things.
Abuse is so far-reaching, permeating the air in the room, the times between assaults, all the way to the perimeter of that relationship one has with the deviant. I’m finally getting clarity on what that means.