To live, finally

This is a translation of the original French text.

The role of a father, a mother or a tutor is to meet his child’s needs. He must love him, protect him, help him build his own personality, give him tools to face the trials of his adult life and give him means to make enlightened choices in his future life. Their role is to help their child become himself, to be.

The other adults in the family, uncles, aunts and others, are there to perfect and complete the education that the parents or tutors offer their children.

For the children, all these adults represent an authority figure and, most of all, they consider them as models. They perceive them as people possessing the truth.

When we are victim of sexual assault during childhood, we learn to satisfy the needs of the adults who assault us. We learn to become their object. We permit them to take advantage of us, because this crime is part of our daily routine. As a child, I learned to keep quiet, to give myself to, answer to, and quench my aggressor’s desires. As a child, I was an object, which could be used according to the adult’s needs and desires. My personality was shaped by that perception that I had of myself, which is to say, to be an object.

When I understood that my personality had been constructed from this perception, I understood why I felt inferior to others around me, why I had no confidence in myself and low self-esteem, why I spent my life helping people in difficulty, giving everything I could to those who needed it (You know, Your Honor, I love my profession. But if I hadn’t been sexually assaulted, maybe I would have chosen a profession freely, instead of choosing it with the perception that I was an object.) I couldn’t act otherwise, because my personality was built that way. Today, I can tell you that I am a full-fledged person, and not an object that we can use how and when we want to. When I look at people, I now see them as my “equals”. My relationships with them have become healthier and more rewarding. Most of all, I have learned to respect myself as a person, and the connections that I now keep with others are equal-to-equal relationships.

From the moment I understood this twist in the construction of my personality, I felt liberated; I had found the key to my healing. From that moment on, I felt that I could blossom and realise my own projects – that I used to consider as unrealistic, because I didn’t believe in my strengths, because I considered myself as an object.

Most sexual assault victims also carry with them the burden of the crimes they have suffered from. They feel guilty, because they believe they weren’t able to repel their aggressors: they have the impression that they provoked them. Moreover, they sometimes feel guilty because they felt pleasure during the sexual assault. To overcome this trauma, we must undertake a healing process. The prerequisite learning to all others is to understand that the burden of this crime doesn’t belong to us: it belongs to the one who committed the assault.

What belongs to us, though, is our healing: to become conscious of the consequences and impacts of this crime in our lives, and to give ourselves enough importance to take the time to work out each of the consequences we become aware of, that come up with time. We must also learn to live in the very place where the assaults were committed, namely, our own body.

To heal myself from this trauma, I went through a process that lasted over 20 years. My university schooling was my first therapy to help me understand myself better, as well as my family dynamics. Afterwards, I underwent a therapy, twice, and did a lot of introspection, in order to understand my difficulties and to learn how to deal with my reality. In fact, I have learned and I keep on learning how to be free and happy.

Today, I feel good about myself; I feel like a full-fledged person. However, every day and at any moment, I must be conscious of that fact; otherwise I could easily fall back into my old dynamics. I was able to heal this wound, but a scar remains, and this scar will remain forever in my heart and in my soul.

I was a VICTIM of sexual assaults in my childhood and for part of my adolescence. Afterwards, I SURVIVED from this crime for many years. Nowadays, I can tell you without a doubt that I LIVE my life without forgetting nor denying this trauma, but I’m learning to deal with this past of mine.

For too long, my sister and I carried a burden that didn’t belong to us. And because we freed ourselves from that burden, we can now take care of ourselves.

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