Re: Sexually abused by my step father ages 2-14
Oh, safe hugs to you!
NOTHING is "wrong" with you!!
It is entirely "normal" for your brain to shield you from the worst of the effects until you are ready to start healing. It is very common for the effects to surface sometime in adulthood, and very confusing, because it just seems to "pop up," and this can make you feel crazy. You have been living your life, thinking you were fine, then *wham* all of a sudden, memories and emotions start coming in, and you feel out of control. You don't know why.
Though you physically survived the trauma, mentally and emotionally, you were too young or not ready to process the pain. For me, before my brain clued me in, I minimized what had happened to me, felt I was "lucky" to not have any mental issues over it. Little did I know that every decision I had made, every choice, every perspective on life, they were all made in an unconscious effort to protect myself from experiencing the pain. I was not ready, and my brain knew it. When it started coming in at age 40, I was not what I would call "ready," even then, but it's not like I had any choice in any of it.
My family GREATLY minimized my reactions. They did not want to talk about it, and wanted me to be the dutiful daughter, sister and aunt that I had always been. "Get over it," is they way they don't have to deal with their own pain and shame, and a way to keep us "in line" with the current, most likely dysfunctional, but comfortable, roles we have all assumed. In their favor, they probably really don't know how to react. It scares them as much as it scares you, but the typical family reaction is denial and minimization of the crimes and the effects on the survivor. It is also possible that their brains are still protecting them.
There is most likely another family dynamic at play, too. Survivors are the "secret keepers" of the family. Survivors are groomed by the abuser to "keep his secret" and we learn very young to not talk about it. We feel shame if and when we do. The abuser groomed others to "leave it alone." The entire family is groomed by abuse to not talk about it. "Groomed" is a very gentle word for negative intermittent reinforcement, the second most powerful behavioral modifier.
For these and other reasons, I would ask that your family not be your primary source of support. They will most likely react in ways that may add to your pain, and inhibit your readiness to heal. I'm not saying don't talk to them about it, but that to expect them to know how to react in a positive way is not realistic and may add to your distress.
It is sad that the people closest to us have to deal with their own issues surrounding the abuse, and are most likely not knowledgeable about the "right" ways to react to our awakening need to heal. This can apply to friends as well. It is a very personal decision to whom to reveal the abuse, when and how.
There are very good books, a lot of online help, and counselors trained specifically to help survivors. Sexual abuse of a child is traumatic to the child, and it sounds like the trauma is beginning to come to the surface. It can be very frightening, because you may experience feelings that had to be suppressed in order to survive the trauma. As these feeling surface, remember that you survived the initially, and that it may be time to let the pain out, and as much as it may hurt, you can and will survive the feelings.
There is no use in comparing your experiences to others who may have suffered "worse." Worst is worst to each individual. If a beloved friend were to tell you that she had no right to experience pain or even talk about it, because what happened to you was worse than what happened to her, how would you answer her?
You are NOT losing your mind. You are beginning to heal.
It is time to take gentle care of yourself.