I had my mind set on writing this post for quite a while now, and I have to say, it takes courage to write down things, even though I already spoke out about this. But I am doing it to show you that to repress trauma and numb ourselves will never lead to recovery. Talking about and reviving the trauma will hurt, but after this phase, you will realise you feel better. This is what happened to me, anyway.
So yeah, here it goes: I am the victim of a pedophile. And I kept this secret for many, many years.
You may wonder why people keep these things inside. My reason was that I did not understand what happened because at such a young age (I was 11), I did not have the capacity to understand the gravity. Also, I could not believe this person did this to me. But I remember how I could not sleep that night. The next day, my mind had already worked fast and put this happening into the realm of dreams. I grew convinced that I dreamt it. And so I did not speak up.
Years later, I start to have relationships, and I find out that I behave in an atypical way, as my friends were all about physical contact and they were enjoying it, while I just wanted someone who would understand me and hug me when needed. In other words, sex was not important for me. It could be cut off. But also, it was not painful for me either, and I took it as an item that exists in a relationship and people like it more or less. I just thought I was like this.
Until a then boyfriend made me realise that I was totally disconnected. We connected on every level, but for some reason, on that one, we did not. I behaved differently on that level, as he told me he felt I was not being myself.
That was the spring. He was my first serious relationship, so it was the first time i started to desperately want to connect on that level, I just could not do it. Until I realised my dream was not a dream at all. It was hard to come to this realisation.
But it still did not spoke up. The circumstances were not the best to raise the problem, as me and my boyfriend were breaking up and my mum was seriously ill. Plus, pandemic happened, so I found myself stuck in another country (I was on Erasmus) and I had no possibility to find psychological support. So, I let it go down in my mind. Until my current boyfriend.
He raised the same problem as my previous boyfriend: I was not being myself while in intimate situations. He was doubting himself. Right there I could not keep it in anymore, as I saw my secret hurting another person. While my ex was trying to understand without blaming himself, my current boyfriend took it on himself completely. By that time my mum was out of hospital and pandemic had alleviated. I told him.
My life changed after that. I did not think that speaking up would have this great positive impact on my life, but turns out it did. My trauma was out there. From that day it was like a waterfall: I told my dad, my mum, my friends, and I got feedback from them all. That is why I was so cold about physical contact. That is why I was actively making myself disappear in large clothes, unkept hair and downward glances. My dad told me he never understood why I was actively making myself appear ugly. Now he knows why.
Shortly after, I found out I could not stop talking. Since I got depression back when I was 16, I had been quiet, if not sometimes, not speaking at all. I am guessing my trauma was the bottle cap that was holding everything else stuck. And with talking, freedom came. Now, I am finally able to speak up my mind without fearing the other. If I managed to speak about my trauma, then anything else is just easy.
My psychologist told me I made justice to myself. I denounced to the world my suffering and I found out that there are ways to recover and deal with it. One is the hope that my experience will help others. The other one is noticing all the little changes that speaking up brought to me: I am less anxious, less worried, my depression is healing and I now know I should not be afraid to speak up. I am also taking legal action, but I know that if I will lose the cause, speaking up is still the best thing I could do for myself.
If you have repressed trauma, please, find someone you trust and try to open up. It does not have to be all at once, you can start with signalling that there is something you want to say but you are not ready yet. Every little step is good enough. And the pain you will live while reviving the trauma it will al be worth it, because later you will feel like a big weight has been taken down from your shoulders.