It begins small. A tiny touch, inappropriate, incomprehensible to a six year old. You have this uneasy feeling deep in your gut. Something’s wrong, but you don’t know exactly what it is. You haven’t the experience to put it into words. Finally, you think it’s you that’s done something wrong. After all, this is Daddy, or Grandpa, or Uncle Jake. . .the person you trust more than anyone. He loves you. He wouldn’t hurt you. Would he?
It escalates. It always does.
The caresses become bolder, more invasive. Each touch, whether gentle or harsh, tears away a bit of your soul. You gather your courage, and tell someone. To your horror and dismay, they don’t believe you.
“Stop being a little liar!” They tell you.
“She’s just trying to get attention.” They say.
Nobody believes you, you’re just a lying trouble making little tramp. And worst of all, your tormentor knows. He knows you’ve told. He knows you weren’t believed. He knows now that whatever you say, no one will believe you. He can do what he wants, anything he wants, with impunity. You eat, breathe, and live with fear.
An abused child isn’t just afraid of her abuser. She’s afraid of everything. Every situation is a trap waiting to spring. Uncertainty and confusion rule her life. Trust is gone. Hope has vanished. She learns to live by the three rules. And she survives. Barely.
The years roll by. She is a grown woman now, a shadow woman. She’s like a puzzle with pieces missing. Her body is still there, but most of the rest of her has disappeared. Too many pieces have been torn away and are missing. Too many betrayals, too much pain. She has escaped her abuser, but he is still with her. He is a little voice inside, whispering, always whispering.
“You’re bad. You’re a liar, a troublemaker, a tramp. It’s all your fault. You made me do it. . . “
She struggles through each day, fighting her inner demons, screaming inside from the constant fear. She suffers from Panphobia, the fear of everything.
“A persistent, abnormal and unwarranted fear of each and everything. It can make an individual suffer endlessly. The fear ruins the quality of your existence. It may also cause panic attacks and keep you at a distance from your loved ones and professional compeers. Victims of this fear, experience symptoms like rapid breathing, shortness of breath, sweating, irregular heartbeat, overall feeling of dread and nausea.
You experience fear of everything as a product of the unconscious mind. It is treated as a protective mechanism. Whatever you come to hear, see on the television or read in the magazine makes you feel anxious and apprehensive. Your apprehension of everything can affect your health, career, school and family. You behave abnormally mainly because you don’t know what you should or should not be afraid of.
You always live in fear. When you are afraid of everything, you do not want to deal with anything unknown and unfamiliar. Anything or anybody new coming in your way seem to create problem for you. You’d just die to avoid such situations in life.”
After years of this agony, in the dark and dusty attic of old memories, she stumbles across a tattered, yellowed-with-age piece of herself. She has trouble recognizing it, at first. It’s so. . . battered. How does she fit it back into place? Where does it go?
Gradually, over a period of many years, she finds and gathers together the many missing pieces of herself. Some, like innocence and trust are gone forever. The rest are misshapen and warped. They will never fit the way they’re supposed to. She will never be the woman she would have been if the abuse had never happened. She doesn’t care anymore. She’s just glad to have them back.