A Childhood Stolen

I’m not sure how old I was when I first experienced abuse as a child, but I must have been young, probably about 7 or 8.

My family is very loving and the world felt “safe.” Our middle-aged nanny had been with the family for years. She was someone I saw as a caring person and a mother figure.

One afternoon when my parents were at work and no one was at home, this nanny asked me to play a “game” with her. She made me touch her inappropriately. In return she offered me candy. She justified it by saying that it was a “fun game.” As young as I was, I didn’t like it, and I told her so. Something told me that this isn’t right. But she insisted it was okay and tried to justify it to me by reiterating that this game made her “happy.” Since I looked up to her, I played along even though it felt revolting.

She made me touch her inappropriately. In return she offered me candy.

When I told her that I didn’t want to play these games any more, she threatened that she’d do the same thing to my younger brother. And if that wasn’t enough, she would also tell my parents that I was the one initiating these horrible things. I had no choice but to go along for what felt like an eternity. It seemed that I was trapped in a horrible nightmare with no morning in sight.

I don’t remember how long it went on for, probably because I blanked out large parts of this part of my life. I do remember a few years later the same maid got into an argument with my mother and I completely lost my composure. I had so much rage against her for what she had done to me that I shouted at her till I lost my voice. This was completely unlike me and the reaction took my mother by surprise. In hindsight this was reflective of all the pent-up anger I felt.

Many years later, at 36, I came out to my parents and shared the experience I had. Even then I did not comprehend that it was abuse. It was devastating to see the look of helplessness, guilt, and sadness in their faces. It felt as though they didn’t know how to ask for forgiveness. They felt as though they had failed to protect their child. We cried together for hours. Years of bottled guilt, anger, and hopelessness came pouring out. The sharing was cathartic; it has brought me so much closer to them and I realised that no matter what, they still love me and I value that a lot.

As a now 45-year-old man, somewhere deep down, I believe the sexual abuse and the trauma left a deep scar on my psyche and hampered my ability to trust people. I live alone and am moderately successful in my professional life. Having never been in love, I am exploring relationships and am optimistic about what the future holds on all fronts – professional as well as personal.

When I look back and recall having shared this aspect of my life with family, the unconditional love I received help me heal. I spent many hours in therapy and it has helped me enjoy life and deal with the past. My only regret is not sharing earlier and having lost so many years thinking about what people would say and think about me.

Have you been abused as a child? Has it left a deep scar in your life, and you haven't had the courage to discuss it anyone? You've probably been carrying the guilt or even the shame for years. It really helps to talk about what you’re going through. If you leave your contact information below, someone will get in touch with you to listen to your story and help. Because you’re not alone in this.

Photo Credit: Darwis Alwan