Peer support subsequent to trauma contributes to full recovery

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) -- including complex trauma (cPTSD) -- is debilitating, breaking down the body through anxiety and stress, and it poses a significant suicide risk in sufferers. MyPTSD seeks to help and inform those who are directly or indirectly affected by these conditions through peer-to-peer support and educational resources.

Covert Incest

Discussion in 'Discussion' started by black_dove, Apr 5, 2011.

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  1. black_dove

    black_dove New Member

    Mar 29, 2011
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    Oh man, this is probably going to be long, and I apologize in advance for that.

    I am deeply disturbed, I am angry, I am disgusted and feel ashamed. I'm posting this here because these occurrences spanned years, from the ages of about 6 to around 13. I never saw any of this as abnormal before, until I picked up the book "Secret Survivors, Uncovering Incest and it's Aftereffects on Women" by E. Sue Blume.

    I used to think all of this stuff was a crock, a hoax. I never truly believed in repressed Memory, I still don't fully know if I believe it, it all feels like like the stuff fairy tales and ghost stories and hauntings are made of. Still, somewhere, deep inside, in the pit of my gut - somewhere I don't even want to name, somewhere that feels intense Anxiety and fear - something says: you know. Stuff happened.

    I just downplayed it all. I minimized it. Because who ever talks about this stuff? None of my friends ever did, none of my girlfriends. None of my family. I hope someone else can identify with what I'm about to say, I feel like I'm going crazy.

    I don't remember any explicit sexual Abuse, other than an older male cousin molesting me (and that doesn't seem, at the moment, to be such a big deal). I have been aware of this for years and it has never seemed all that bad. It was "little stuff", like coercing me to sit on his lap during family games of hide and seek (he always, always chose me). He'd wiggle me around and I'd protest and try to get away, and he'd always end up coercing me back. That's one small memory fragment.

    In the worst, I woke up to him using my hand to masturbate himself while he watched porn. I was about 8 - it was during a sleep over. I pretended to roll over and fall asleep. Eventually I woke up and tried sleeping on the couch, but he talked me down and the next thing I know I am awakened again, but his head is under the covers and creeping up in between my legs. I got up and bolted out of the room, ran upstairs. I told his sister (I was very close with her, we are a year apart), and she tried telling her mother, my aunt - who, as it turns out, told her it was "just a phase."

    That's all I have about that. I know now that dealing with the reaction to me telling was probably more detrimental than the events themselves, but I haven't gotten this far in therapy yet, other than me being able to identify him as a 'perpetrator' (he is 6 years older). We're dealing primarily with family of origin stuff, and that's where the main bulk of this post comes in.

    I have never understood or been able to put in to context aspects of my fathers abuse. I knew the verbal and physical was bad, but I always (and never admitted it to anyone or myself for years) knew that there was a sexually charged component to it. (I have always known this, but it makes me feel sick to my stomach).

    I don't know how to explain this. Certain instances:

    - Always treating me like a "little adult." By this I mean sitting me down, very young and all through many years, explaining why the relationship between he and my mom just wasn't working out. He said they didn't fit together and he had made a mistake. I can still recall the hand gestures he used to describe this, so I know it was over many years we had this same conversation. He said I better be wary not to make the same mistake in my life (I am 8 or 9, by the way!). He said he never regretted having me or my brother, but it was very difficult, he just didn't know what to do, he was working so hard. This alternated with bouts of physical/verbal abuse, then periods of neglect, and so it was always 'nice' to have him talk to me, even if he wasn't really interested in what I had to say. Then when I got a bit older he started taking me out to dinner, and one time it ended up in the car, and he said, "all men have needs, and your mother just isn't fulfilling my needs." That is all I remember, other than crying and staring out the window at the rain on the window. I remember feeling a sense of horror and fear and sadness. I think I was afraid he was going to do something to me. Why would I feel that way?? (I thought I was a sick, perverted daughter to feel that way).

    - He cat-called/whistled to me when I wore certain outfits, right in front of my mother. Told me how beautiful and pretty I was. (My mother constantly complained how ugly and disgusting she felt, and often said she "wished I could be as pretty as you." I argued with her over this all the time.) Used adjectives such as "sexy." Said the boys would be lining up at the door and I'd have to beat them off with a baseball bat...and he certainly understood that, because if HE was one of them...

    - Then told me boys are only out for one thing and I'd better be very careful.

    - Called me a whore when I was 13 for wearing glittery eyeshadow. Screamed at me and physically assaulted me.

    - Walked right in to the bathroom while I took showers all of the time. We had no curtain, just an opaque door, and no locks anywhere in the house. Never knocked, would take a piss and brush his teeth. Often would leer or make comments like, "Whoa, you're growing up!" or, "Oh, whoops, I thought you were your mother!" -- after he sat there and stared at me.

    - This is the weirdest and strangest memory I have. I have no idea how to explain it, and for years always dismissed it when it popped up like, "i must have been imagining things." I know that I wasn't, though - my gut knows that. My father was prone to rages and screaming matches at me, when he wasn't lecturing. He often walked around the house in only his underwear (it was his domain, he flaunted that). During one particular rage, he had an erection. I can remember staring at his crotch and my stomach twisting and not understanding what was going on, and backing up against the wall. I remember nothing else, just that.

    I guess all of this doesn't seem all of that bad. But reading that book and seeing so many of the same examples really got to my head -- this really wasn't normal, was it? I struggle with it because all of these pieces of information feel discrete and separated.

    As far as struggles in my own life now, with sex - I recently began a very new, actually very good relationship (for the first time in my life). I shut down sexually, or have actually gone away after sex - I will roll over, curl in to a ball, and I cannot speak. I feel very small and far away. This has never happened to me before - though I have certainly cried afterward. My boyfriend is very gentle during this and will help to ground me, and sometimes it works. I have also literally blacked out after sex. I didn't speak, but he kept trying to call my name for 30 minutes and he said all I did was occasionally look up at him with very, very sad eyes. I don't remember this at all, I just "woke up" afterward and couldn't understand why he was so distraught.

    I have sobbed/cried during and after sex with intimate partners.

    I was raped at 18 by the person I lost my virginity to - but never considered it rape because I was dating him so I kept going back (he was also physically abusive).

    I was sexually harassed at more than one job - one time went so far as physical groping and propositions. I told and got fired.

    In my past I have been very compulsively promiscuous - but this seems very standard and doesn't bear repeating. I sought out people who didn't / would never care for me and just **** them. This felt comfortable and safe, being used. Then I'd hate myself for letting myself be used, even after I just sought it out.

    I have had numerous rape fantasies and played them out once. Have tried to get current BF to do this as well, but he will not, as it makes him intensely uncomfortable. (He states that he cannot do anything that will hurt me, and also that if he thought I wanted this as normal 'kink' he'd be game, but said he feels it is much deeper than that for me. Also I so frequently go away after sex he feels this would just trigger that.)

    This is the hardest:

    As a child, I compulsively masturbated. I don't know if this is normal, but there were times I would do it in public (school, car). I felt as if I had to, like it was an itch that needed to be scratched, it almost 'burned.' Also, and this causes me intense Shame -- and I have no idea if this is normal, or to what extent - I engaged in sex games with my sibling (I was about 6-8?). They were not 'doctor' games -- it didn't feel fun. I needed him to insert objects. I knew it was wrong, and I felt ashamed. He was younger and didn't really want to do this, but I got him to a few times anyway. There was simulated sex, as well - always clothed, and with pillows between us -- and I wasn't getting anything out of it, nor did I want him. I just felt like I had to do these things. Is this at all normal? I don't recall watching anything, or seeing my parents, or anything. Though my brother and I did hear my parents ALL THE TIME (their bedroom was right next to ours) as children, to the extent that I came to know the difference between a normal morning urination and the 'after sex' urination from my father...as gross as that sounds...

    All of this points to a strong indication of sexual abuse/molestation, but it seems that what I recall (a few isolated incidents with my cousin) just don't add up to be 'that bad.' Maybe it really was, and I'll discover that later - and maybe I'll remember more, later. I don't know. I just wanted to post this and see if anyone can identify or relate, so maybe I'll feel a little less insane....

    I'm so sorry this is so long!
     
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  3. Ted Moen

    Ted Moen Well-Known Member

    Feb 8, 2011
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    Medically Retired (PTSD)
    Flint, MI
    Hey black dove, welcome. Feeling disgusted with ourselves, angry and ashamed is pretty normal with PTSD. You did a nic job of opening up. Talking about stuff in a safe environment is a healthy start. As for our memory, I used to describe mine as memory spikes which were not necessarily in order or complete or true.

    Keep talking, and be gentle with yourself.

    Ted
     
    C j and The Albatross like this.
  4. black_dove

    black_dove New Member

    Mar 29, 2011
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    Thanks Ted - I will definitely try to be gentle with myself. It's very difficult, but I'm glad I can at least begin to share in a safe environment. Even my T thinks this is a very healthy adjunct to our therapy.

    Also, I like your description of "memory spikes." As for being true, what do you mean? My T and I just discussed a memory I have of being in my grandmother's house, I'm in one of my uncle's old bedrooms that I always associated bad and evil vibes with. I saw what I describe now as an "orb" - a floating ball of light. It came near the bed and grew larger until I dove under the covers (it was bedtime). I've had this memory for years but I am conflicted on it's validity. I mean, did I really see something supernatural? A ghost or evil spirit? Or did my mind see something else it didn't want to see? Is that even possible? Ugh. I always just thought I saw a ghost. Stranger things have happened, I suppose.

    Anyway thanks for the feedback!
     
  5. Heather

    Heather wonder woman I found you :)
    Premium Member

    Dec 19, 2010
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    I live on the east coast, USA
    Hi Dove

    I can relate to A LOT of what you have written here. I was sexually abused by my dad at a young age. The worst was at 11 y/o. I don't believe all my memories but that's normal I think.

    I have rape fantasies too. I've been extremely promiscous in my mid-twenties. I've had boyfriends tie me up. And just like you I have been sexually harassed at jobs, one particular where I was felt up by the dishwasher.

    I also had an incident happen with my cousin. I was 13 y/o and he was 15 y/o when he shoved his hands down into my underwear. I told my mom what happened and she replied, "what do you want me to do about it".

    I'm sorry I don't have any advice for you. I just wanted you are NOT alone in your experiences.

    Take care. Hugs. Heather
     
    black_dove likes this.
  6. ronin47

    ronin47 Well-Known Member

    Jan 31, 2008
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    Lopez Island, WA
    My gosh, there were parts there where I thought I was reading about myself. I compulsively masturbated in public as a child as well. It didn't really occur to me that there was anything wrong with that. I didn't understand why my mother got so mad at me when I did it. I was "sexually maltreated" as a child as well. My stepfather would expose himself to me frequently and touched me in inappropriate places on more than one occasion.

    I did the same thing you did (and it seems to me are still doing), in that I trivialized what I went through. People would ask me if I was ever abused as a child and I would say no. It wasn't as if I was lying or consciously withholding information. I truly had convinced myself that what I went through wasn't really abuse. It wasn't until after several weeks of working with my first truly effective therapist that, when these memories would cross my mind, I found myself thinking, "Maybe there really was something wrong with that?"

    Whether you believe in it or not, repressed memories are a reality and a common symptom of PTSD. One of the more extreme examples I've heard of was about a woman who, while going through a divorce, woke up one day with stress induced amnesia. She literally forgot the last 13 years of her life. Her daughter was 16 years old at the time but the woman started walking around looking for a three year old. It's bizarre stuff, but it happens.

    What you experienced was abuse in every sense of the word. It doesn't surprise me in the least that you are struggling with the sexual aspect of your current romantic relationships. It is likely that every time you have a sexual encounter your mind automatically links it back to the sexual abuse you experienced as a child and the sexual images that were associate with violence. I might even venture to say that the "sick to my stomach" you feel whenever you touch on those memories is a symptom of PTSD as well. Extreme stress commonly creates diarrhea and upset stomachs as your heart rate and metabolism increases rapidly. That was a way I realized I was beginning to truly heal from my trauma. For years I would experience stomach cramps that were so painful they would make me cry, but I haven't had a single episode like that since I started intensive therapy.

    Physical symptoms like that are side effects of your mind trying to "shove down" the traumatic memories and the constant "fight or flight" mode that is inherent with PTSD. Repressed memories occur when the mind does not feel it has any way to cope with them. You were subjected to vile and atrocious abuse at very young age and forced to try to process things that were much too big for your then-little mind.

    Healing is possible though, as many people on this forum can tell you. It will be hard at first, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. You had no power over what was done to you as a child, but with help you now can have power over how much those memories will control you now that you are an adult.

    My prayers tonight will be for you.
     
  7. black_dove

    black_dove New Member

    Mar 29, 2011
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    Wow - thanks so much, Ronin. I truly appreciate your response. I even got a bit teary-eyed at the end...but I won't lie, I almost giggled at your description of the abuse as "vile and atrocious" because I can't really see it that way, right now. It seems that is how dissociated I am from it all. I have spent years pretending and even believing that I had put my past behind me, but like yourself, it wasn't until my own good therapy started that I began wondering...

    Actually, most of this didn't start to come to a head until I got in to this newer relationship, and you said you were not surprised by that. My T says the same thing, essentially - that there is no real wonder this new, good guy is scaring the hell out of me. There is the prospect of real intimacy here...

    So I spent the last 10 years in and out of abusive relationships/one night stands/weird obsessions and I am starting to see how that caused me to completely avoid the real issues with myself. All I ever did was focus on the bad relationship, how I could fix it, how I could fix/change the other person and keep them from hurting me/make them love me, etc. Codependency in the extreme!

    And now here I am...faced with all of this stuff. Stuff I thought I could lock the door on and throw away the key.

    And I think you're right -- that feeling in my stomach I am coming to realize is associated with current day interactions with my boyfriend. I sometimes feel I am going to throw up and I can't breathe. It happens if I don't 'go away' after sex - and instead end up talking to him about what I am feeling. I get really overwhelmed and start to feel sick and panicky. This is always correlated with a deep sense of shame and disgust.

    Since starting therapy I've also begun having weird "IBS" type things, headaches, and my skin started breaking out worse than it ever has. (Though maybe that isn't related). I have pretty constant neck, shoulder, and back pain too, unrelated to injuries - I feel like I'm all "knotted up." Or sometimes my entire body hurts for no apparent reason, just achy and sore like I have the flu. I always take my temperature when this happens and I never have a fever and by the next day or so, it's gone. I'm thinking it's all stress related. So all of this makes me feel really attractive, and all. ;)

    About the compulsive masturbating - at least I know I wasn't alone in that. The only time I remember someone noticing was when I was in preschool during nap-time. I can't believe I even remember that far back. But no one seemed to notice when I was older.

    You said "healing is possible." Thank you for that. I really want to believe that. I've spent my entire life, it seems, feeling grotesque, hideous, and disgusting, as if the core of who I am is a noxious, infectious alien being. I don't live up to my potential. I feel stuck...and I don't want to feel that anymore.

    I guess I just don't want to believe certain things, but doing that doesn't mean it isn't true. I have heard stories like the one you described, but it still seems so unreal, in just the way most of what I went through feels very unreal and disconnected from me. There doesn't seem to be a time line. Nothing feels linear. It's all scattered, sporadic, discrete. Part of me just can't wait to jump in and connect the dots so my life will make some sense and the other part is absolutely terrified of doing that.

    Again, thanks for your honesty, prayers and heartfelt response. It means more than you realize, I am sure.
     
  8. Incongruous

    Incongruous Active Member

    Apr 14, 2011
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    Recently while doing some research on my novel I found this excellent website. It is Sexual Abuse Survivors in Recovery Anonymous. I used their format, the 12 step program, years ago when I first discovered I was a survivor of sexual abuse. The website lists the aftereffects of sexual abuse. You can find it be searching for the name I mentioned above. There is also a list for sexual issues on the same site.

    Many of the aftereffects you mentioned are listed there.

    I have quite a few memories about sitting on a man's lap, later learned it was my father's.

    I think that was the worst part for me, realizing something was messed up about my family, not me. I remember going to my first appointment while attending nursing school. A teacher suggested I go after she noticed how I fell apart on certain rotations. At the time I was having flashbacks and didn't know it. I walked and sat down and started crying. I didn't stop crying at my twice a week appointments for three weeks.

    My mother confided in me in the way you mentioned above. It made me feel ill as if I were being drawn into a sexual relationship with my mother and father.

    Any kind of sexual abuse whether covert or overt is damaging.

    All aftereffects of sexual abuse.

    I had to stop sexual relationship because anything we did was too triggering for me. Also my DH was not very understanding about me needing to stop right in the middle of sex. He didn't want to stop. So I stopped it all together.

    That's horrible.

    I was one many victims of a driving instructor at a private driving school. He'd stroke the students' thighs while they were trying to focus on driving.

    Again aftereffects of sexual abuse mentioned on both the Sex & Love or Sexual Issues list on the website I mentioned.

    I started masturbating at the age of four. I remember masturbating in front of my family in our family room. I would do it at friends' houses using pillows, in our pool, and many other places. Once I was forbidden to play with another girl because my mother thought the girl had instigated masturbating on pillows. In fact, I was the one who started it.

    You are not alone.

    One thing which helped me during therapy was to get body work and massages. I actually used another technique which is rarely used now but it helped me accept what did happen.
     
  9. Catt

    Catt New Member

    Dec 17, 2012
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    Hi Black Dove,
    I'm new on the site. I know you don't want sympathy or pity. Your courage really touches me. Thank you.
     

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