At the age of 15 and after being in a small psychiatric hospital for about 3 months, my life was about to take an even more drastic change.
I was admitted to this hospital after 2.5 years of sexual abuse by my uncle. Only no one knew about the abuse. I was admitted because I kept asking to move away. Now that I was here, my only issues appeared to be depression and anorexia. Most of my time there was spent on learning my diagnosis and hearing about alternative behaviors. Still no one asked the question, “Why?”.
One Sunday evening, about 8 pm, I was sitting in a break room with a girl I knew from high school and one of the techs on duty. My friend, Gwen, disclosed that she had an “affair” with her uncle and was feeling really sad about it. My response to her was something to the affect that she shouldn’t feel terrible because others have done it. Including me. Mike (the tech) seemed to be a little shocked but really didn’t comment on our conversation. Little did I know, that our stories would be reported to law enforcement the next morning. Life as I knew it, however horrible it had been, was about to become more awful than it had ever been.
The next morning, the RN in charge came to my room and told me that my parents were being notified at that moment. I was in shock. I was so afraid. I was embarrassed. I was humiliated. I felt like I had been tricked, even though I shared the information freely. I thought the hospital was my safe place. I thought I could confide anything to the staff and be safe.
After hearing that my parents were being made aware, I waited for her to exit, and then began to barricade myself in the room. I put my dresser and my bed up against the door. I was sobbing and trying to see thru the tears. After that was done, I grabbed a soft drink can off of my desk, and pulled the tab off of it. I began to cut myself with this tab, and I remember praying to God to please let me die. But as I’m doing the cutting, I can hear numerous voices at the door and people yelling, “Let us in, Open the Door”, etc. Since the doors didn’t lock, it wasn’t long before all of those people made it into the room. I was wrestled down to the floor even though I wasn’t fighting. I was picked up and carried down the hall to a seclusion room.
Once in the room, I was given a shot with a very strong sedative. My clothes were removed except for my bra and panties. No blanket. No pillow. Just a mattress on the floor. Before I passed out from the drugs, I remember thinking how bright and cold the room was.
I was in there for maybe 24 hours. I’m not really sure because the hours felt like days and the days felt like an eternity. All I knew was that it was Monday morning when I went in. No other time seemed to matter after knowing the whole world knew about my shame.
On Wednesday evening, my cousin (my uncle’s youngest daughter), called to tell me that I had ruined her life and the lives of everyone in the family. I said nothing. I just looked at the floor silently crying. She was my best friend in the whole world and now she was gone too.
My parents didn’t come to see me until Saturday. They said they were too overwhelmed. They were so angry at me for not telling them.
Two weeks later I was discharged from the hospital. Since I had told the story, I no longer needed inpatient care. I was ready to go home and be with my parents. No therapy needed.
I was discharged early on a Saturday morning. As we are driving home, my parents tell me that we are having a party. These parties were not uncommon. It usually consisted of Saturday thru Sunday night and lots of people drinking, doing drugs and eating. I remember thinking that I didn’t want anyone there. I only wanted to hide and not be seen. I think somewhere in the back of my mind I thought that this would be a one on one healing time for my parents and I. How wrong I was. Shortly after, friends and family started arriving and the partying began.
I cried all weekend. I felt like I had lost my safety net and the few people who cared if I lived or died. On Sunday evening, I told my parents that I wanted to go back to the hospital or die. I think I said die because I knew it would scare them enough to take me back. And they did.
I was re-admitted on Sunday night. I was truly happy to be back to the crazy children and dysfunctional staff that made me feel like family.
The following Monday morning, I was notified by staff that I could not discuss the abuse with them and that I was being encouraged to share more with my parents so that we could work toward going home permanently.
I was there two more weeks basically in complete silence. Now, when I needed to talk more than ever, I wasn’t allowed to unless it was my parents. And, that was never going to happen.
Finally, 4 months after my original admission, I was sent home to live with my loving family and live happily ever after.
I tell this story because mental health has come a long way since this time, however, there is still so much family shame and secrecy surrounding sexual abuse.
I was a victim of sexual abuse, but also a victim of blame. I was the person who made it all happen. I was the person who wrecked the whole family. I was the little girl with so much power to destroy lives.
As am I trying to figure out this healing journey, I have to make a conscious daily effort to forgive. Sometimes I have to work hard at just blocking it all out so that I can complete my work day. There are nights when I lay in bed with the reality of those days being manifested in nightmares or flashbacks.
I have seen him standing at my bedroom door on more than one occasion. It sometimes takes me days to get over realistic nightmares that include family members or abuse scenes. Talking or writing about it can cause those to happen. Sometimes those things happen without any apparent reason at all.
But what I’m learning is that the secrets haven’t helped me thru my life. They have only caused me to miss out on love and happiness. I’m here now, trying to tell my story so that I can be free of shame and secrecy. They are truly my greatest enemy.
Until next time – I am being MJ every day.