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I Was Three, He was my Stepdad

I Was Three, He was my Stepdad

It Happened …

Ages 3-18.  I was a sad child. I was never hugged or touched unless it was for bad.  I remember desperately wishing a teacher would realize I was silently screaming for help through my eyes.  How could you look at me and not know?

It Was ….

My step father. He was the only father I ever knew so I consider him my dad, not a step father.

My sister and I were left alone with my dad frequently, including overnight. “No one will believe you” resonates with me and I believe he said that to me. I think because I was so young when the abuse began, it was easier for him to get away with the abuse.  I remember vividly the night I realized what my dad was doing. The feelings of shock and betrayal shook me to my very core, and at that moment, my memory ends.  My little brain mercifully shut down to protect me so I could continue to function as a human being.  There are huge pieces of time that are missing from my childhood.  While I remember the emotional and physical abuse, that would be my last memory of sexual abuse until I turned 12, although I’m certain it continued.  My memories from age 12 and forward are more clear.  The physical abuse ended, the emotional abuse continued, and the sexual abuse continued, but in a different way.    

It Made Me Feel...

It made me feel like I was nothing.  I have always been “less than”.  I feel the need to apologize just for being alive.  I took on the role as “fixer” as a child.  It was my job to keep everyone calm and quiet, to make sure I was as invisible as possible in order to stay out of my dad’s way.  My teen years were spent trying to numb the pain, determined to self-destruct.  My adult life was filled with violent and/or toxic relationships.  After so many years of counseling, I continue to struggle with my weight, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety and PTSD.  I often feel people can tell just by looking at me, like I’m wearing a scarlet letter.
I Told… 

I never told. My abuse started as a toddler, so it had always been my life – what I was.  My mom witnessed the physical and emotional abuse, and I assumed she knew about the sexual abuse as well.
I was 43 years old before and had been living with a man for five years before I told him about my childhood, and only after my dad died.  He was shocked but was unbelievably supportive.  That gave me the courage to talk to my mom.  At first, I felt such relief to hear her say she didn’t know.  We had been best friends for years, but she became angry, blaming me that she could no longer grieve her husband or tend to his grave without guilt.  She removed me as executor of her will, and as beneficiary. I was instantly shut out and felt I had to grieve the loss of my mother as well as my father.  After nearly 6 years, we are now able to attend holiday dinners and events together, although I don’t think we can ever be close again, and often pretend not to notice how uncomfortable we are around each other.

I Survived…

Counseling. I’ve been going to counseling for about 4 years or so. Sometimes I see an end, sometimes I think it will never end.

I Dream… 

I was a counselor at a camp for abused children this summer.  I told my story at church. I told my friends.  I shower my fb page with messages about abuse.  I’m helping with this project.

I think the key is talking about it. Stop it from being a dirty little secret so people can let go of their shame and guilt. Talk to kids about it. ASK.  If someone had asked me as a little girl, I may have told.  Don’t force them to hug and kiss relatives or visitors. Let them be in control of their body and educate them that even teachers, police officers, and other people in authority do not have a right to touch their private places.  That if they’re being touched inappropriately, it is not their fault, and it’s okay to tell.  Shout out the message.  Create ads and commercials telling kids they are not alone and this is how to get help.  People don’t know what emotional or sexual abuse looks like because it leaves no visible, physical scars.  It’s not easy to recognize, is usually someone you love and trust, and they absolutely do not look like monsters.    You could use the average looking person, some in authoritative roles, functioning in jobs with the lowest and highest salary, appearing to have normal lives, but in reality, they are a predator.  This is what childhood emotional and sexual abuse looks like.  It looks normal.

I Want….

I want people to talk about it. Understand that this abuse affects us in multiple ways for the rest of our lives. The earlier you can start counseling, admit to yourself what happened and start the healing process, the less likely it will destroy you.

This blog post is copyrighted and cannot be republished without the expressed written consent of the author and The Mama Bear Effect.

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20 thoughts on “I Was Three, He was my Stepdad

  1. Claire Willis

    The ‘I was three and it was my stepdad” story resonates so much with me. This week I’ve been doubting myself again so much. Feeling like I am the evil person who tells lies. I cried so hard in counselling this week, hard enough that I thought my counsellor would not want to be there for me any more. But she does – she will see me next week. Then she has a holiday but she will continue to see me after that. Reading this story has reiterated to me that I need to trust myself. That I would not make this up. Because so much of my story is similar to yours. And at the end of the day – why would I make it up? Thank you so much for sharing and helping others like me.

    1. Rosemary Asevedo

      I know ur story all to well but in my story I don’t really remember when it started I remember age seven. I got molested by four ppl as a child. As a teenager I got rape by two guys that told everybody that they pulled a train on me which caused me to shut down. I was messed up mental way before I got raped I started smoke pot at 14. When my stepdad found out he supplied to keep me quiet. I tried meth at 15 again my stepdad found out and also supplied my habit. I went to foster homes, group home, and eventually boot camp. Before I started using meth I got raped by two guys that were friends with my brother. They told everybody that they pulled a train on me. I was passed in bedroom when it happened. Then I went to boot camp. While in boot camp I reported what happen with my step dad. Then I released from the system at 18 and had no where go cause my mom believed her husband. So I immediately got into a relationship and continued using drug. The relationship was very dysfunction. I got physical abused by him which I was already use to because my mom also abused cause she knew what was going with her husband. Since all the crap that happened to me a child I have had dysfunctional relationship inn after another so I stop getting in relationship. I had two girls still trying to let go of the past but it is hard. My stepdad has come to me to apologize. I did accept but I think that I hold more anger towards my mom because I feel that she knew and did nothing to stop it.

      1. Mayra

        It’s unfortunate that you had to be victimized all your life. I pray for those victims of crimes. May God bless you and comfort you. May he bring peace to your soul. You are more than a victim, you are a fighter. Your girls are your life, keep them as your priority. May God bless them. I wish you luck and happiness.

        1. Dawn Saner

          Your comments mean so much. God bless you!

      2. Dawn Saner

        It’s hard not to be angry when the people who are supposed to protect you are the ones that ultimately destroy you. Love and prayers for you.

  2. Dawn Saner

    Claire, do not doubt yourself. The memories are real. It happened. Our little brains shut down to protect us, which can leave us with periods of time we can’t remember. It took me a year in therapy before I could say the words out loud that I was a victim of incest. There are days I also wonder if any of it is true. Did I imagine all of this. The answer is no. Learn to trust those feelings because they are memories. I think the reason we struggle with accepting it is because even though it happened to us, we still can’t comprehend that someone could do this to another human being, let alone a little girl.

    Thank you so much for your comment. It reminds me I am not alone. We are not alone. 💕

  3. Ann Buchanan

    We can all relate

  4. Ruby

    When I see the photo of the beautiful innocent child you were, I honestly want to just hug you and protect you. I’m so sorry this happened to you.

    1. Shannon Meador

      Yes! Me too.

      1. Dawn Saner

        Shannon ❤️❤️

    2. Dawn Saner

      Ruby, it makes me emotional hearing you would have hugged and protected little me. Bless your heart.

  5. Rachel

    This touches home for me. I was also abused sexually, emotionally and physically by my older brother between the ages of 8-16. My family did not/do not believe me, and it at times still feels heartbreaking. Thank You for sharing your story, it’s a reminder that we are not alone.

    1. Dawn Saner

      Rachel, praying for your continued healing. Love and hugs.

  6. Hi Claire, I was inspired to read your post as I always am by those of us that choose to speak out about this very common trauma that silence only protects and so the cycles just keep on keeping on. Thank you for having the courage to share your experience with yourself and the world. I am not sure if this is the right form to share this with you but I could not find an email for you. Here is a link to the audio/video of the face to face meeting I had with my step farther in 2012 and his wife at that time. Feel free to share it if you think it will help anyone and please don’t stop. Love Tanya.

  7. B

    Reading this story really reminds me how the feelings and effects of the different kinds of abusive are all intertwined. The line in your story where you say about being invisible as possible. I was physically and emotionally abused by my mother and when things were bad I used to lay in bed awake and just stay as still as possible so there was no reminder I was there. I was the “pleaser” as a child, trying to stay on the good side of my brother in particular where a lot of the physical abuse stemmed from by my mother. As a 14 year old when I begun to remember my earlier childhood and the things my mum had said and done to me I became fascinated or obsessed with looking at photos of myself from then and was disturbed with the face staring back at me who was often sad and sullen looking (I could pick from what I was wearing what had happened that same day or on other occasions wearing the same clothes. I felt sometimes I was so obviously sad because something had gone on before we left home) I felt like I didn’t know the girl, but confused because she was actually me. Around the same time I searched for my school report cards and found a number from the ages of 5-9. Three of my early teachers all reported that I was eager to please and my anxious mannerism at times. Along with the reports cards was a task sheet where we had to put a emotion face next to each activity. There were the standard happy, angry, sad etc etc. One response stood out for me as I had put at sad face next to how I felt about ‘Reading at home’ but I had also added some tears which weren’t on the guide pictures. (Mother used to hit us when we didn’t know a word) As a teen I also self destructed and self harmed from the age of 14 and up to about age 21. When I left home at 19, there was a confrontation days later about the abuse. My mum has always retained that nothing happened and that I make things up. It has made me doubt things just like every one else but I know my memories are real and the effects from them have had a huge impact on my life and my emotional functionings for many years. I functioned as a teen in ways I never knew were related and had such attachment issues that at those times drove me to be very unhappy. Now – I am 27 and I have not seen my parents in about 7-8years. I have two children and another on the way. I don’t see my mother for the protection of my own children as well as myself. My mother has never met my children (age 4 & 2) and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The pain and hurt is just not worth it.

    1. Dawn Saner

      B, our behaviors were very similar. I hadn’t seen a picture of myself as a child (I’m 49) so when I found the 3 year old picture of me, it was like I was looking at someone I didn’t know. But that was me. I truly was innocent. I look at it to remind myself there was absolutely nothing I could have done to deserve the abuse. It helps me to remember to stop holding on to the guilt.

      I am so proud of you for breaking the cycle! Love and prayers for you 💕

  8. licky

    it happened to me but i dont even remember who did it to me,sometimes i thought maybe i was making this up until i fall in love with someone and had to sleep with him and he said i was not a virgin i refused to believe him because to me it was a shame i feeled dirty and i was ashame to tell him about what happened,and now i have a daughter of my own and iam scared that the history may repeat it self.cause im living with his step father and she is only 4 years old sometimes i blame myself for oversleeping at night cause it may happen and i wont be there to protect her

    1. Dawn Saner

      A predator doesn’t necessarily have to be alone with or spend time with a child for them to abuse. It only takes a moment to fondle a child as they walk by. They can expose themselves as quick as you can turn your back. You have to trust your instincts. If you get that uncomfortable feeling from anyone, it’s because you REMEMBER that feeling. Trust it.

  9. That is a very good tip especially to those fresh tto the blogosphere.
    Short but very accurate info… Many thanks for sharing this one.

    A must read post!

  10. Blanca

    How did you remember this at three years old? I’m suspicious of my daughter getting molested by her father around that age. She came back from her summer visit with him and would hit things very angry and cry with anger, that was out of character for her. I feel guilty already because I really didn’t want to send her with a stranger at her age. I’m all she knew and that alone wasn’t fair for her. The courts tell you that you can lose your child if you don’t send them for visitation and can go to jail. I lost her anyway because her dad molested his step daughter and I tried to ask the courts to modify her visits with her father to no overnights. I feel guilty because instinctively I didn’t want her to go with him and didn’t have the courage to risk losing her when it came time to protect her. I didn’t know what to do because no one I knew had experience with family courts. I let her go and I seen a change. Now more and more evidence came out about him and I failed to help her even till today. She is living with him and the women that allowed him to molest her daughter. My daughter looks at me so sad. She begs to come home. I have to tell her no. Not even with the belief that she is going to be okay with her predator father and predator step mother.

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