When Your Abuser Reaches Out to You Again
Are you condemned to be yourself?
I thought this is all behind me. I thought I am stronger than this. I thought I am just so over the sexual abuse that happened to me when I was a child…I thought I won this battle by pretending the reason for it never happened.
I struggled all my life with most common long-term effects of child abuse, such as: anxiety, depression, suicide attempt, poor self-esteem, many and confusing relationships, alcohol, lack of trust and always lots of fear.
But I always wore that mask showing to the world that I am a happy person that is always positive. Ready to help. Ready to laugh. Only when people believed in this image they would never know my dark secret. And they believed. All my life. I was a very successful “actress.” Acting out that everything is fine until I go back home alone and just cry and feel and scared … I was so good in this performance, so many times I asked myself if the child abuse ever really happened. There were times when I didn’t believe myself or thought my mind is making this up. But why on Earth someone would make this up in his own mind? Nobody would want himself to suffer and go through this. I questioned my sanity sometimes. I thought what if this was just a bad dream or illusion? But it wasn’t. I tried to repress this memory and hide it so deep in my mind so when I questioned the facts I wasn’t even sure they were real. They were. No child would have such illusion. And so I didn’t. It was real.
And the only way to escape from it was to pretend it never happened; to keep my life going. All the mistakes or bad decisions I took. of course about them I blamed myself. And the feeling of guilt about everything never left me. I didn’t know why I feel this way.
Sometimes I thought if I am alive, and pretending to be happy, then I must be over this and perhaps it didn’t influence my life. I thought I must be such a strong person. And sometimes I thought how many bad things happened to me and how many bad decisions I took and still survived. I sometimes felt “impressed” how much someone like me could actually handle. I must be exceptional…I must be such a brave and strong person. This is what I thought…till about a month ago.
I was at the University and just finished my first semester. My last exam was Philosophy and seemed to me so difficult. I was really worried. The exam was writing an article about atheistic existentialism and I chose Jean-Paul Sartre and I titled my article “Man is condemned to himself,” one of Sartre’s popular phrases. Sartre believed that man is condemned to be his own God and to decide what life paths to choose, and then to suffer because of the consequences of his bad decisions. Writing about this made me think deeply about my own actions through the years and actually to try looking for the reasons and motivations I had about them. I was supposed then to speak about my thoughts in front of the professor and other students. Talking about it, it almost made me feel cry because I realized how true this all was. Something bad affected my life, and I chose not to share it with anyone and remain silent and even avoid thinking about it. So was I condemned to myself? Was I condemned to be me and suffer in silence all my life?
I was surprised with an “A” and I was happy and satisfied about that so my mood got eventually better. Me and a few other students went to the nearest café to celebrate the successful ending semester. We laughed and joked. We had coffees and the situation was pretty normal, even though after my confusing feeling while I had my speech on my exam. And eventually I decided to call my mother and let her know the good news and made her happy and proud of her daughter.
I rang her on the phone and the very first thing that she said after I told her about my exam was, ”Hold on. Someone here wants to speak with you. You’d never believe who I met in the mall.”
I immediately recognized his voice. Even more than 20 years after he sexually abused me. This was my molester. our old neighbor’s son who moved away years ago. He met my mother in the shopping mall and what a coincidence. Exactly the same moment when they are happily chatting in the mall. I am ringing my mother to tell her that I have got an “A” in Philosophy.
I froze. His voice brought me back in my childhood. I was a little girl again. I was again afraid that my mother will find out. I was again disgusted of my molester’s presence, even on the phone. I couldn’t move. I stood there outside the café and my whole body sweated. My hands were wet. I was so confused. I was again back there in my room, or in his apartment. I was again on the bed, naked, ashamed and confused. I was still that little girl in the same situation.
He asked:”Hey. how are you? Congratulations for your successful exam!”
How dare he? Like nothing happened? Did he forget? Or he just didn’t care? Or he thought what he has done to me is a completely normal and it doesn’t bother him to live with it. In front of my mother, on her phone the same twisted person was holding her phone talking to me, wearing the fake mask of innocence, smiling like our old neighbor’s boy who has nothing but good memories with me. I bet he does have in fact good memories about me. For him the abuse was a “good time.”
I so much like the book of Martha Stout ”The Sociopath Next Door.” I believe this is him. I found my molester in every single page of that book. He was a charming, intelligent, joyful teenager who never got in trouble, but even was supposed to be like a big brother to me, and watch over me while I was alone at home (and my mother was at work).
As a perfect example of a sociopath, my molester was a nice guy that everyone liked in the neighborhood. My mother loved him and his sister almost as her own children. We spent holidays and birthdays together – all the families from our floor of the block. He groomed my mother and everyone else. He manipulated everyone to believe he is such a “good kid” and now I am thinking if I ever told by then would ever someone believe me? My molester. even still a teenager at the time was so nice to everyone. He was always polite, smiling and friendly. Always ready to help me with my homework. He manipulated the whole community faking a whole identity, hiding his true self. And so did I to hide that secret – acting out I am a normal, happy person while I was crying inside. I learned my lesson from him. And I succeeded to fake my whole identity too.
And as a perfect example of a sociopath he just feels no remorse. He doesn’t think he has done anything wrong at all. Sociopaths have no conscience. Sociopaths feel no emotions. Sociopaths feel no sorrow, no sadness, no guilt, no true love or empathy to other beings. Sociopaths only desire to satisfy their own needs no matter what does it costs to others, no matter what sociopaths have to achieve what they want and their fantasies have to become a reality on all costs. This is a sociopath. Grown up man who once molested a child for years in order to pleasure himself and make true his own deviant fantasies, and who is able to speak to that same child more than 20 years later, ”Hi, how are you?”
He is now a married man, and funny but he has got two daughters. My mother told me this after their meeting in the mall. He told her how good his life is and how happy he is having a family, and adorable daughters and own business. Just an ordinary chat about life – with his victim’s mother!!!
He asked about me, and pretended to be happy about me that I am a student now and a successful grown-up woman. And then my mother’s phone rang – it was me to share about my exam.
Am I condemned to be me?
Am I condemned to carry the burden of my childhood abuse forever?
What if the phone rings and this is him?
What if I meet him on the street or in the mall?
And after all, do I have to keep this secret forever?
One thing I know for sure – that once I admitted what he’s done to me, and I accepted it knowing that I cannot change it I am walking in the right direction. I am on the right path the way of healing a wound is to stop denying it exists first.
Soon after this I found out about Will Lynch’s story and listening to his story brought up all the emotions of facing what happened to me, and this felt like a storm in my head. I didn’t want to forget any more. I had to speak up. Like he did. I had to inspire others like he inspired me.
And I decided: I don’t want to be condemned to be me. I want to be happy to be me. So I dare to speak up. And I am happy to be me.