I am a child abuse and rape survivor: This is my story
Jenny was three when she was first abused
Jenny* is a 21 year old woman who was abused and raped as a child, and has subsequently battled mental illness all her life. This is her story:
It began when I was three, around 1998/1999. An older boy around 12, who was a close family friend, began touching me, inappropriately rubbing himself on me, and making me touch him.
I believe he did it to my brother too as my brother started doing this to me after a few years as well. This went on until I was around nine or 10 when I started learning about sex and realising what was happening was very wrong. I told him I didn’t want to play these games anymore and shortly after that we stopped hanging out alone. I feel like it didn’t affect me until later in life.
When I was 13 in 2009, I went out with an older female friend and her two male friends. I hung around with them as it made me feel cool, and I had access to alcohol and late nights out. One of the guys, who was about 17, started showing me attention and I began to trust him.
We kissed a lot but when he asked me for sex, I always declined as I was scared to do it. In May, he decided I no longer had a choice and raped me in a local park.
This is when all of my previous abuse started affecting me, as I felt like it was all I knew and all I was good for, so began drinking lots and sleeping around. I became known as a slag and I became very depressed. One day I broke down and finally told my parents what had happened. They didn’t believe me, which left me shocked and devastated. I became hostile and even more depressed. I would cut myself and be violent to others who I felt hurt me. I resented my brother for being protected and I was punished for my apparent lies.
I started seeing a psychologist and taking anti-depressants when I was 15 in 2010/2011 as things became too much for me. I subsequently was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety, which later developed into bipolar type two.
I was unable to live out, especially in my late teens in they way everyone else did. While others learnt to drive and were out all the time, I would stay home due to crippling anxiety. These are still things I struggle with, as I don’t like being around people. I don’t trust someone to take me out for a driving lesson when I don’t know them, as I feel as if people I know and trusted can hurt me the way they did, then people I don’t know can do worse. That being said, a stranger has never hurt me so I also feel like I’m being unfair to potentially nice people.
I left school a year early due to being unable to sit in a class full of people. The quiet made it easy for my trail of thoughts to sway to negative reminders of my past, which lead to a panic attack. I felt so embarrassed panicking in front of my peers I decided to stop going to school altogether. I had to pay to take my GCSEs the following year on the school grounds. I didn’t do amazingly well, so I feel if none of this had happened and I stayed in school, I could have got better results.
I’ve actually been in a long term relationship from when I was 18. We sort of knew each other our whole lives, but we never really interacted until one day he approached me online. We chatted online, where i feel safe and almost free as I’m protected because I’m nowhere near the person.
It took a few months before I finally agreed to meet him and pretty much straight away after properly meeting he asked me to be his girlfriend. I agreed but then panicked, and refused to meet up again for another two months. He was very patient but began to feel he couldn’t stay in a relationship where he doesn’t see me. I agreed he’d already stuck around longer than I thought he would. There was something about him that gave me comfort and I decided I had to face my fears and try my hardest to make it work. And it did!
We now live together and he is the only person in the world that I trust. He even supported me in wanting to learn to drive and is trying to help me through the anxiety of getting lessons, finally! It feels like he makes everything better which worries me to an extent – if he was to decide he wants out, I would be left to my own devices again. I’ve relied on him so much lately I don’t know where that would leave me.
Before I moved out, my parents claimed to believe me, but it’s always been weird so I’m unsure if the truly do, or they’re in denial as it involved their other child. My brother has acknowledged it because it caused a lot of family rows, but he hasn’t apologised which I guess is all I want to hear. He knows it’s wrong. So it’s kind of been ignored. The only person who ever talks about it now is my mum but it’s only when we argue. It gets dragged up now and again – I guess we’re both still very angry.
Both parents have apologised but I can’t accept it, as I felt punished for my experience and unsupported by the people who were meant to care for me and who I trusted the most and it’s ruined all that. I very rarely visit them now, and they’ve never asked to visit me, apart from my mum who has come over once.
I feel like although I’m ok, my experience has made me a very untrusting person – full of anxiety and hate, and I don’t think that’ll ever leave me.
As told to Robin Brinkworth.
*Not her real name.