Sarah's Story – Abused by Cousins

Hi Dr.Patti;

Im a 22 year old girl, well woman I guess. I bought your book, Invisible Girls, over a year ago and picked it up a dozen times, Ill read a couple pages then drift off into my memory and put the book down till next time. So needless to say I haven't read all or even most of it, but I know its talking about me. I have just recently voiced out loud the truth about what has happened. My earliest memory is of my cousin and I, my slightly older male cousin. I remember we were at his house, in the bed room, and I was undressed from the waist down. He touched me. Its like he was examining me. I was a child, but so was he. As the years went on, I developed a sexual relationship with him. I don't even know if that was my choice. I know that he and I had always had our secrets, we had always been sexually involved since my earliest memory which I believe I may have been 3 or 4. He and I were sleeping together, yes intercourse, by the time I was 12. He would tell me to do things and I would do it. I wanted to please him. My father wasn't around when I was growing up, thank God...he wasn't a good guy at that time, I saw my father's genitals before but I think that may have been a drunken mistake on his part. I'm not sure. When my dad was around he was always very intoxicated. I remember he took one of my toys, actually it was a wallet my grandmother had given me, and he stuffed it down his shorts and told me to get it. I didn't touch him, but I did have to put my hands in his shorts to get it...was that abuse? My cousin that I mentioned, he and I were "involved" my whole childhood, from my earliest memory of age 3 till the time I was 18 and finally moved away. What I am confused about with this cousin is I don't know if I was abused or a willing me it seems like that is just what we did, I think I had grown to accept it as what he and I did. We will call him Cousin #1 because there was a Cousin # 2 also. The two cousins I am talking about are both my first cousins, blood related, male, and a little older than me. Cousin # 2 and I also had our secrets. He would get me to lay in his bed and he would rub me down there and all over for that mater. He would have me touch him too. I did, this didn't seem to strange to me because of what I had always done with Cousin #1. With the way I was treated by these two cousins and two other cousins at that, Its almost like they could see it in me. Its like they knew, they knew that I had no defense, I was "willing" I guess you could say, but I didn't want to. I don't think it was ever my idea. But I always went along with it. Each cousin and I had our own individual secrets. One cousin did not know about the other. I never told anyone, not even them. They knew it was going on. The abuse with Cousin #2 stopped after a year or two. What happened with cousin number 1 never stopped, I believe it would still be going on if I hadn't moved so far away. I still see both of them all of them at family functions, weddings, birthdays, and what have you. I smile, I converse, I even hug them. But Its there in the back of my mind when they walk in the room, Its like my mind says "there he is", or "its him". I still have never told anyone in my family about it, and I don't intend to. I love my aunts and uncles how would I tell them your son molested me my whole life, or hi I've had sex with your son, my own cousin, my own flesh and blood. I wish that was all I had to tell you Dr. Patti.

But as a result of my life I developed my own ways to cope, sex with men, hundreds of men, dependency on alcohol and drugs. I believe I may have been raped twice. Once when I was 13 the other time when I was 17. Both times I was unconscious or at the very least very very intoxicated. The first one I was somewhat awake through, They were associations, friends or so I thought, they were men in their late 20's and I was between 13 and 14 when I was hanging around them. Whats strange is that I may have likely consented to having sex with the man that raped me, but I never had that option. I had been around him countless times, even flirted with him. But he waited. He waited to make his move until I was insanely drunk. I was again 13 or 14, he was 20 something may be 30. I remember bits and pieces I remember he grabbed me and pulled me on top of him. I remember him going from and excuse my language from one hole to the other. It was him I'm sure of and one of his friends I believe. I remember pieces of it, the sex, and walking through a bush, I remember thorns getting caught on my Adidas jacket. I got home and my mother ran over to me. I fell on the couch and she was panicking asking what happened to me. One of my breasts which was already bruised was hanging out of my shirt. I had scratches all over my arms. She asked what happened. I said "nothing". As I said I have memories of that night, but the STD I contracted that night has no cure, so I carry a permanent reminder. When I went to the doctors office I had multiple infections and 2 STDs, one was treated the other couldn't be. The doctors office appointment was just a routine one, it was not due to what happened. That was all as a result of that one night. I was drunk, I was unconscious, I never said no, but I never said anything.

The second time was similar to the first. I was 17, in a sleazy hotel room drunk with my boyfriend of 5 years. We were in one bed while a girl friend of mine and a guy friend of his were in the other bed. I had sex with my boyfriend and passed out. I remember "him" or so I thought it was my boyfriend getting back on top of me. I was asleep, in and out of consciousness, he got on top of me he was inside me, I was not alarmed, I had sex with him, I asked if he had a condom on, I didn't realize it wasn't my boyfriend when he mumbled yes. I have asked myself a thousand times, "Why didn't you just open your eyes?" I was in the middle of having sex with him, when I heard my boyfriends voice from across the room. I opened my eyes, I jumped up. All of the lights were off, it was so dark in there. I kicked his friend off of me, out of me. And my I looked over at my boyfriend and scared and shocked, I said " I thought it was you." And he had the nerve to say " It was me." He had told his friend to have his way with me, because he was apparently trying to do the same with my friend. That was the first time I had ever looked at someone in the face and said "you raped me". I never even knew his friends name. I still don't. I felt stupid, I was again in and out of consciousness I thought to myself "you slut, you started having sex with a guy without ever opening your eyes." I did stay with that boyfriend for a about another year after that. I told him he had let his friend rape me, he said sorry, and told me not to tell anyone.

I was 17 then, and when I was 19 I stumbled into my AA meeting. I relapsed for a few years, having sex with every guy in AA sick enough to be interested. I wound up in rehab when I was 21, last year. I had also developed a nasty case of bulimia, which I have still struggled with but I have made so much improvement. It has been months since my last bulimic episode, and months before that time. During my time there I began to open up about all of this, and admitted for the first time to anyone and even myself that I had been molested by my cousins. Through counseling in Rehab and working with my AA sponsor I have been able to have voice. I'm still not over this, but I know this has happened, I can share it today. I have been sober since March 8, 2010. Thats a little over a 1 year and 7 months. For that I am truly greatful. I still dont have answers, I know what happened, I still struggle with knowing if I was a victim or a willing participant. I also still struggle with feelings of if its my fault, If I hadnt been drunk...If I would have opened my eyes. Its not like in the movies, where a girl gets raped and everyone is concerned and there's a trial, and court and a little judge. No one was ever arrested for any of this, there were no charges pressed. My parents do not know about any of this, my sponsor, the counselor at rehab, and you Dr. Patti are it, and me. I know. I wanted to share this with you. I apologize it was so long. I would be interested to get feed back from you. Anything really. You can email me back to this email. Thank you, this is the first time Ive ever written it all out like this.


Dr. Patti responds:

Dear Sarah;

         I am really glad that you wrote your whole story for the first time to us here at Girlthrive. Sharing your story will, for sure, help other girls and it may inspire them to get help as you have. Of course what is blindingly missing here are your parents, especially your mother. Hummm… how could this have gone on for so many years with a mother who was actually on duty?! Yes, you were sexually abused, and I have to say that I think your male cousins were also abused, or exposed to pornography at a very early age – for some reason they became abusers. You clearly are working out some of the childhood trauma and reasons that you felt pressure to "participate" in the abuse. You also seem to know that your sexual contact with so many men is another reason you felt sexually abused. I am guessing that your body was trained at a very early age to respond to touch, to sexual touch. It is as if your body responded without your head or heart. When you say that they did not know about this, and that you did not tell any of them...I do not believe this. I am thinking that they do know, and did know, and they all knew to abuse you. This is standard in families with abuse. There is often not just one abuser, and not just one abused. They know what they are doing.

         Your purging is very interesting and on some level I am guessing it was also healing in a way. You were vomiting up all of that bile, all of that shame and guilt and confusion and self–loathing. You were getting it out. With the drinking you were escaping, and shame shame shame on the AA men in the program – but this too is fairly common. I think it is wonderful you are in AA and in counseling. I am in good company with your sponsor, your counselor at rehab. I will say I am not a fan of your parents. Clearly you never felt safe in that home from a very very early age. What your father did to you is obscene! And again, where is your mother! You clearly need to find others outside of your bio family you can relate and connect with. You are on a good path. But let's be very very clear. You were violated. Your body reacted and then probably "needed" the reassurance in some way – hence the frequent sex. I am so pleased you are reading "Invisible Girls". The book is perfect for you. Try to be brave and read more, bring it to your therapy, blog with us at the Girlthrive blog. Keep healing, keep going with your treatment. I am proud of you and I know you need to be proud of yourself, please try to stop blaming yourself. You are a survivor of sexual abuse. You are not an abuser. You did not start this up, you did not want it…. but clearly you felt alone, isolated and unsafe, and your cousins knew it. As for the rapes – WTF – come on ! Your "boyfriend" is a disgusting pig, as is his friend. Please, I beg you, work on your intuition, work on this in all your therapy. I believe you know how to choose – you have only gone for the abusers and now it is time to pick your friends much more carefully. Try to reach out to some women, build your support community. We are here for you at Girlthrive. xo dr. p.

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