Mary's Story :

Dear Dr.Patti

i stumbled across your website today all the way over her in little old nz (new zealand!) and i think its an awsome site! i was sexually abused for many years and have decided that i really need to deal with it, and now is the time to do it! and as you said sharing your story is one step to doing that so here goes! (and hopefully you can give me some help too!)

my parents got divorced when i was about eight after my dad had an affair with one of his work colleagues! this is when it all started! my older brother (by four years) began to abuse me! it started off with touching and kissing, but then became pretty full on with him penetrating me with his fingers and penis, as well as performing oral sex and forcing me to do the same to him! i hated what he was doing to me, but at the same time it confused me so much as i enjoyed the attention and it sometimes felt good which made me think that i must have brought it on myself and that because it felt good it couldn't be wrong even though deep down i knew that it was! i tried to avoid him whenever i could and avoid being left at home with him, but a lot of the time i couldn't avoid it! i would struggle, and scream, and fight, and bite and scratch him but it never stopped him and usually just made it worse, and no one ever came to rescue me! when i struggled and refused he would threaten to use things that i loved such as my dog and my soft toys in my place which for some reason freaked me out and made me want to protect them more than enduring what would happen to me! so eventually i learnt to just lie there and let him do what he had to do! it made it quicker and easier! i would just zone out and go to another place! he did the whole "if you tell anyone i'll kill you" thing, but when i was eleven i finally got up enough courage to stop the abuse and tell my mum! i went into her room and just blurted it all out! she confronted my brother about it, but he just denied it so nothing was done and he was allowed to carry on with what ever he wanted to do! and she even said to me "if its just some mutual experimentation then that's okay with me" ! which just made me think even more that maybe i was bringing this on myself and i did want it to happen! this abuse continued until i was around 16 when he finally moved out! i hate him for what he has done to me, and i don't think i can ever forgive him for this! i still have to see him a lot and he acts like nothing has happened, and that makes me really angry! he took my virginity and that's something special and private that i can never get back! i never told anyone else as since i hadn't been believed the first time i just figured why would anyone else? and it had taken so much to get up the courage to do it this first time!

i'm now 19 and struggling with the abuse in many parts of my life! my self-confidence has dropped so much, and i have problems with physical contact and intimacy, so much so that i haven't dated since i was about 14, as i know that eventually it will lead to these things which i just cannot do! a lot of abuse survivors seem to become quite promiscious and have a lot of sexual partners, but i seem to have gone the other way and have never had a sexual partner! if you can help me to deal with this in any way i would be so greatful!

........... thanks, mary.

Dr. Patti responds:

Dear Mary ;

         Thanks so much for writing and I am so glad that you have found "Girlthrive." Now it is time to read "Invisible Girls." You will get so much help by reading about girls who have been through what you have been through. There is even a chapter on sibling abuse.

         First of all I want to say that I am so sorry for the way your mother responded to you when you finally told her about the abuse. And I believe in every single case where a girl endures abuse in her home under her mother's roof the girl believes her mother will not protect her. Girls will tell right away when they know their mothers will take care of them at any cost. Incest between father–daughter, step father–daughter, brother–sister etc. happens for years under the same roof as a mother who will not protect her daughter. OF COURSE IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT!!!!!!!!!!! I am so glad you have written to me and are starting to tell about your abuse. In my book one girl talks about how her brother was a comfort to her and it started out that way, but by the time he was full on abusing her she felt too trapped to stop it. I talk about how the body is trained to feel certain things that the mind and heart may not be feeling at all. That is what it sounds like with you. You knew deep inside it was wrong, but you did not know how to stop it, and your mother only encouraged it which probably made you feel worse than before you told her. The fact that your brother threatened to abuse your soft toys and dog is so sick. It is also beautiful the way you protected your loved stuffed animals and dog. How brave and wonderful that you protected your doggie. Every girl I have ever spoken to tells me that the worst pain is their mothers rejection and blame and ignoring after they tell of their abuse.

         It sounds as if you are on a good track now, away from your family. It is very normal to be afraid of intimacy. Yes some abuse survivors tend to be permiscuous and others may have a very hard time letting anyone touch them. That too can change. When you send me your address in New Zealand I will mail you an autographed copy of my book. After all, you wrote to me all the way from New Zealand and this is your first time telling since you were 11 years old. That calls for a reward!

         Again, thank you for reaching out. I also believe it is healthy to stay angry at your abuser. But all that is in my book too!

................................Much love, xo Dr. Patti.

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