“The funny thing about trying to describe my life before the abuse is that I don’t really remember a time before it started. It shaped so much of my childhood, slithering its way through even normal memories now as I look back.
At some point, maybe early middle school, I remember just crumbling inside. To the outside world I was still the perfect image of a smart, happy, young girl.
But I have memories from that time that are so sharp they cut like the edge of broken glass. It felt like I had hundreds of questions and no way to understand them. Did my mother know? Was this something that all daddys do to their daughters?
Even after I moved out of the house to college and most of the physical abuse stopped, the brain-washing power that my father had over my life still completely dominated me. The words that came out of my mouth were his words. The choices I made in school were his choices. I was his play-thing and I danced to his tune.
I found my way to Roanoke Park Counseling because at 28 the secret was starting to destroy me from the inside. I was terrified of having to acknowledge it even in my own brain. The first day of group counseling, the group leader asked us to write down our goals. All of mine centered on keeping the secret: how do I pass as normal? I remember my shock when one of the other women’s goals was to confront her father about the abuse. I couldn’t even imagine doing so.
But something about sharing my story in a group of other survivors changed me. I found anger in me. I found deep sadness. I found a great well of strength and a desire for realness. Keeping the secret and feeling shame became simply unbearable for me.
Confronting my father, breaking my mother’s heart... These were not easy things. Through it all, I kept going every Tuesday to share the support and the journey with my group of other survivors.
Did it save my life? Possibly. But what is even more important to me is that I found a life worth living that I hadn’t even know was possible. Looking back now it feels like those old movies where everything starts in black and white and then a switch is flipped and everything is touched by beautiful Technicolor. I may still have struggles, I will always be a survivor of abuse, but I’m living a life of truth. A life that shame has no part in.”
~Paige, Former Roanoke Park Counseling Client