After informing my sister about what happened, she kicked her husband out of the house. She was furious and for good cause. Within a few days, her husband suddenly had a "Jesus moment." He claimed that he was converted to Christianity.
Foolishly, my sister believed him. She also bought into his ruthless lies and manipulation. Despite my being a woman of faith and her own blood relative, she accused me of "asking for it." As if a victim of sexual assault wants a crime to happen to her.
Regardless of what I said, she victim-blamed and shamed me. Then she had the gall to demand me to "forgive and forget" fast. How can someone, my own sister, be so cruel, heartless, and vindictive?
These were clever tactics to gaslight me, silence me, and coerce me into not talking about the sexual assault. The crazy thing is that during this time, I cared about my sister. I sincerely didn't want to cause her pain. I placed her peace and marriage above my own health, healing, marriage, and peace of mind.
If there's one thing I could change about the sexual assault, I would have reported him. I would have placed my own well-being above the predators and his wife. The bottom line is that I shouldn't have to live without peace just to keep the predator and his wife comfortable. Silence does not protect us, nor heal us.
Shortly after, my sister and her husband renewed their vows. They planned a big ceremony and reception. It was my sister's nonverbal way of saying, "I stand by my man." Also, it meant she stood by her man even when he committed a crime, he fabricated stories, he pretended he found Jesus, and he performed evil acts.
Where was his fruit of the Spirit? When someone comes to salvation, they have both inward and outward changes. The Bible makes it clear that the old flesh is gone and it's replaced by being renewed. It's a rebirth in which we radiate Christ.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)
Yet, my brother-in-law didn't change. He was still a foul-mouthed worldly guy. There were no outer or inner changes within him.
During this timeline, I had a boatload to deal with. Not just the sexual assault, the victim-shaming and blaming, or my sister and her husband claiming that it was my fault. I had been struggling with marital challenges and had been separated with my husband. In addition, I was juggling single-parenting, financial stress, and a dozen other hardships.
The truth about sexual assault is that there is no right or wrong way to handle it. Each victim responds differently. For some people, they don't talk about it. They don't report it. They don't want to confront the extreme pain, sadness, and trauma.
Instead, some survivors feel numb. They are in a state of shock. They may feel humiliated, violated, outraged, grieved, betrayed, and deeply hurt. Add a relative to the mix and it becomes extremely complicated.
It's very common for victims of sexual assault to avoid dealing with it. Some survivors spend countless decades burying the horrific ordeal. Yet, it still haunts them. They have flashbacks, nightmares, and anxiety.
For me, it was not until the #MeToo movement in 2017 when I was able to confront what my despicable brother-in-law did to me. Out of nowhere, I was flooded with the hellish memories. I couldn't sleep at night. My body went straight into fight, flight, and freeze mode.
Finally, I found the courage to break the silence. I boldly shared the truth. I empowered myself to create healthy boundaries. I became a badass who would no longer tolerate being shamed, blamed, and manipulated.
Eventually, I chose to go no contact with my birth family. It was not a random or impulsive decision. Rather, it was one that I wrestled with for many years. Once I realized that my own mother and sister's did not value me, respect me, love me, nor care about me, I chose to cut ties.
Estrangement with birth families doesn't mean we no longer think of them or that we stopped loving them. Instead, it means that we love our own selves enough to weed out toxic relationships that hurt us. Essentially, this is what's best for me, my health, and my healing journey.
As I work through the sexual assault and how it's been like a tsunami uprooting my life, I have come to see how much I've lost and suffered, due to my predator brother-in-law and my sister who deeply hurt me.
What I've come to understand is that one sin, one crime, one evil act of violence has had a ripple effect on my life and health. The aftermath of sexual assault is not a one time event. Let's make it crystal clear that the aftermath of sexual violence is a lifetime of trauma. It involves intense anguish, pain, and suffering.
Had it not been for my sister's husband who sexually assaulted me, I would not have suffered:
- Sexual Assault
- Chronic Pain
- Herniated discs
- Advanced Degenerative Disc Disease
- Job Loss
- Financial Loss
- Permanent Disability
- Prescribed harm by Cymbalta, Benzodiazepines, & Gabapentin
- Attempted suicide, due to Cymbalta & Ativan severely interacting
- Cymbalta Withdrawals
- Ativan Withdrawals
- Protracted Withdrawal Syndrome
- Hell On Earth
- Complex PTSD
- Compounded Trauma
It's been 13 years of ongoing challenges with my health. I've fought for my life, fought for my body, my mind, and my recovering. If there's nothing else that I've learned about myself during this sexual assault aftermath it is this: I am a courageous survivor.
I have empowered myself to regain 80% of my health. Was it hard? Hell yes! It was an uphill battle, but I am worth fighting for.
Another amazing revelation is coming to see that I have been transformed. I've grown as a human being, gained insight about pharmaceutical drugs, learned about a holistic approach, and I've found my voice.
This has led to my becoming a voice for the voiceless. To give hope to the hopeless. And to advocate on behalf of others who are survivors of sexual assault.
We each have a story. We each deserve to heal. Today, may this inspire you to bravely raise your own voice. To not permit others to silence or shame you.
Lastly, please understand that if you are a survivor of sexual assault, you didn't do anything wrong. It has nothing to do with what you wore, drank, said, or where you were at. May you release the chains of shame. It's not yours to carry.
My friend, you are free. You are free indeed!
#SexualAbuse #ChronicPain #Fibromyalgia #PrescribedHarm #CymbaltaDamage #BenzoWithdrawals #AtivanHell #VictimBlamed #CPTSD #Trauma #MeToo