Let's talk about childhood sexual abuse

Since my last blog post about sexual abuse 9 days ago, I have been having a permanent internal dialogue, which in one way is not moving forward, or at least not very much. It is a dialogue between a part of me that does know, that does want to come to terms with the sexual abuse in my childhood in order to move forward, and another part of me that resists a resounding yes to the question of sexual abuse, that wants to continue to protect me, as it has done for decades. This internal dialogue is not just in my head, although it probably seems that way here. It is an internal dialogue with many emotions, with tears, with pain, and with fear. In fact, I need to stop right now, to stop writing, as I have to cry again. - So, I write this text in parts, stopping when I can't go on.

We start with the part of me that resists:

— "You have no memories. How can you say you have been sexually abused? It is true that we have complex trauma. And you yourself have referred several times to what Pete Walker calls the 'denial onion': 'The minimisation of the debilitating consequences of a childhood filled with emotional neglect is at the core of the denial onion of PTSD. Our recovery efforts are hampered until we understand how much of our suffering revolves around early emotional neglect - around the great emptiness that arises from a lack of parental interest and loving commitment, and around the distressing experience of being small and powerless as you grow up in a world where there is no one to support you. Many survivors never get to discover and work through the wounds that correlate with this level, because they assign their suffering to overt abuse and never get to the core issue of emotional abandonment.' And now this is no longer the case?

— "It is true. What Pete Walker says helped me a lot to come to terms with our complex trauma two years ago, and to work through many aspects of our complex trauma during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. You were protecting me - or preventing me - from accessing this other wound, the sexual abuse. And, perhaps, it was necessary at that moment. I don't know if I would have been able to deal with the sexual abuse at this time. I doubt it. But, it always comes back. The sexual abuse is what led me to start therapy, as I was completely dysfunctional, I collapsed. Back then, in August 2016, I wrote: 'This question comes back to haunt me, and more frequently lately (in the last 2-3 years). Before, when I asked myself this question, it was usually at night when I had trouble falling asleep, and after a few days the question disappeared again. I think that many times the question appears after reading a news about a child sexual abuse case in a newspaper. It came up strongly at the beginning of July, and for the first time I thought about talking to a person. I didn't, and I went on holiday, and after a few days cycling in the Pyrenees I stopped thinking about the question.
After the holidays the question has come back with more force since the beginning of August. This time not only at night, but now the question is present almost all the time, and I find it difficult to concentrate on other tasks'. (Note: I did not publish this text at the time. I published it years later, probably during 2020).
And now the theme has come back with a lot of force since I have connected with the trauma of my last affective sexual relationship 13/14 years ago (and more). A trauma that has to do with not noticing my boundaries, especially in the sexual realm. I have revised my narrative, trying in a way to continue to live with the uncertainty, but the theme remains. - And again I have to pause to cry.

— “But, you don't know. You don't have any concrete memory. And Pete Walker says...”

— (Crying) “Stop! Why do you think I am crying now? Our body does know. It is talking to us — (again crying) — Where does this pain come from? The crying? The fear? Why do you think I have to cry only thinking about the issue? Why do you think I have this associations, and reading about asexuality and sexual abuse I suddently start to cry? Why, when I think about the disgust that sex caused me from a certain moment in my last affective sexual relationship, I often don't know if I'm sucking my then partner's cock or if I'm 10 or less years old and I'm sucking another cock? Why do I often get this image of a little child looking at a man's erect cock? Why have I always had this interest in news or stories about the sexual abuse of boys (never girls)? Why can't I read about it anymore without crying? Why do you think this issue always returns to torment me?
Why? Give me another explanation! — (Note: it has been quite an effort to write this, I wrote it (and translated it) in tears, and now I have to cry again)

— “I don't know. There are probably other explanations. You don't have any memories, and you can't say that you have been sexually abused. What you have are indicators - but there is no definitive proof. You don't have any. And Pete's onion of denial...

— “Fuck Pete Walker (I'm sorry, Pete. Your book was very helpful to me at the time, but I have no use for this perspective now). It is true that sexual abuse (or other serious abuse) is not necessary for complex trauma, that the emotional neglect we suffered in our childhood and adolescence alone would have been sufficient for our complex trauma. But, this does not mean that there was no sexual abuse. In fact, much research on childhood sexual abuse and its consequences also goes so far as to speak of complex trauma. So, don't tell me that complex trauma means there was no sexual abuse.
You don't trust our body. But our body is wise, and it carries memories. As trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk says in this interview: 'We are our body and our body is what we are. Our body tells us what is safe and what is dangerous, what is good and what is bad for us, what is painful and what is a source of pleasure. Trauma is experienced through physical sensations'. Why don't you trust more what our body tells us? Can't you see it?
As Marina Aldaz San Juan summarises in her final degree thesis: 'Sexual abuse has been proven not only to generate Post Traumatic Stress Disorder but can also trigger a greater impact on the child, the so-called Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This syndrome is characterised by problems related to affect and impulse regulation, memory and attention, interpersonal relationships, self-perception, meaning systems and somatisation'. And you can't see this in us either?

— ?? But...

— Yes, in our mind there are no memories. Or, rather, our mind is protecting us, as you are trying to protect us. There are no memories, because perhaps they would be too painful. Now I don't want to know any more. I don't want to know details. But I trust what our body is telling us. I trust - again crying, again - the pain, what our body wants to tell us. It is talking to us. What more certainty do you want? There is no point in continuing this dialogue. You don't want to see it. I understand that you want to protect us, but this is no longer useful. Actually, it's counterproductive now. You'd better help me come to terms with it. There's no point in continuing to look the other way. I understand it's been necessary in the past. Not any more. We can handle this! And, to move forward, we have to come to terms with sexual abuse. There is no other way. Stop resisting!

I don't know how many times I have gone through variations of this dialogue, a painful dialogue, with a lot of crying. A dialogue that goes on inside me during the day and at night, that often keeps me awake at night. I often think (and feel) that my friends are clearer than I am, that they believe me more than I believe myself - certainly more than the part of me that resists believing my body.

It is painful. It is painful to come to terms with sexual abuse. It is painful, but it is necessary. To begin to rebuild who I am. I know I have survived, I am here now. I also know that I have healed some wounds in the last few years, that I now have the ability to trust, to be intimate. I have a potent network of friends, who are supporting me. They can't take away my pain, they can't take away my fear. But they are there. And I need them. And I thank them for being there, and for believing me. That they believe me more than I believe myself.