There are no preparation guides to outing one’s abuser and little knowledge as to what a victim of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse should expect as a response to such a striking declaration. To make my own situation more complicated, my abuser happens to be a woman and society just can’t handle this type of retardation of nature. (Or is that nurture?) In the animal kingdom, certain animals are sometimes known to kill and eat their own offspring but this process is justified as a means to an end- survival of the species.
Maybe my mother is simply a tool in a world sowing an evil agenda where pedophiles and abusers rule by fear and civil injustice in order to fortify their perverted desires and often times, in this mad process, create more of their own kind. Or maybe she’s exactly what she is and nothing more: a sociopath.
When I decided to no longer stay silent, all I knew at the time was that years of psychotropic medications and several stints to the 7th floor psych ward only made me feel worse; a pentagonal lollygag of sorts. World renowned psychiatrists didn’t know how to manage me except to offer “mindfulness” and a daily dose of Seroquel. I call it the ultimate mind-fuck.
You suffer chronic depression.
You have Panic Disorder.
You have PTSD.
You have Bipolar Disorder.
You’re Borderline Personality.
I am none of these things. I’m a victim. I survived. I’m complex.
Dr. Judith Herman, a personal hero of mine, got it right. I have what many victims of prolonged abuse live with: complex post traumatic stress disorder. And with each new revision to the DSM (in which they do not add “complex” to the PTSD spectrum) and every wrong diagnosis, I am re-victimized, minimized, and misunderstood. More aptly, I am not heard. I am not validated. I am no one. The newest and most fashionable diagnostic label for those of us who suffer Complex PTSD is Borderline Personality Disorder. Except there is one glaring misstep with this diagnosis: it is not contingent upon a trauma. If that’s not one more backhand across the mouth or another black eye, I don’t know what is.
Take these pills and be quiet.
You can talk about “it” in therapy.
My personal favorite: Forgiveness. Shut your fucking mouth already, you’re the one who is making it worse for yourself, just move on and forgive.
Let’s get one thing straight as a Lanister’s arrow: No one asked for my forgiveness.
It’s been almost one year since I outed my abuser and I’m still brimming with a rage that could light a fire on the coldest of nights.
I’m realizing, like most journeys to wellness, there are steps to be taken. Except in this case, there are no handbooks – or at least any I’m willing to accept as a genuine path to healing because few speak to validation and all of them ignore what I feel is the most damaging hit of all: the void of penalty to our abusers. Those who love to wag their finger and victim-shame call it “revenge”. It’s softer on the conscience to blame me than speak the unspeakable. While my mother may suffer embarrassment due to my bold outing gone viral, she still kept her job as a school teacher. She still lives in an upper-middle class neighborhood and spins around town in her pearl colored BMW.
She should be wearing an orange jumpsuit and working in a prison kitchen serving up sloppy mashed potatoes. Why is my case any different than someone who is a child killer? My mother extinguished the child within. She did it slowly. Daily. Minute by every sluggish minute for fifteen years. I used to dream of smothering her with a pillow when I was 11. By 15, I wished someone would suffocate me to death instead.
She gets off.
While I’m still obviously lost and angry, I know this: outing my abuser publicly was the right thing to do- for me. It was Step One in my process to healing. I admitted what happened to me. I needed to admit it to the world in order to make it feel honest, just like any addict does because silence becomes an addiction; it’s a way of life. Outing my mother was the first step in acknowledging who I really am and why. While I am not *just* a victim of childhood sexual and physical abuse, that abuse occurred during my formative years and it would be a lie to not acknowledge those experiences which shaped who I am today- the good and the bad. I struggle with calling myself a victim because other people dislike that word. It lacks inspiration. It smells like defeat. Unfortunately, I still reek.
Until the statute of limitations change I’m still a victim, whether society chooses to concede this or not. I will continue to be a healing vigilante. I will break the rules and advocate that silence is the true killer as opposed to a convenient diagnosis where one suffers sometimes-symptoms because it is silence that drives people to hang themselves by the ceiling fan in their bedroom for their spouse or children to find them. Silence is what society craves to feed their comfort level, but I’m no longer serving that dish. I will not Seroquel-trot my way to silence or suicide.
I will not accept a diagnosis simply because the psychiatric community is afraid of the outcome once the real diagnosis is finally acknowledged. I will not advocate for forgiveness in place of justice. I am slowly learning to love myself, something my mother is sure to loathe. And by loving myself, that means I believe I am just as worthy of what others deserve. I’m beginning with Justice.
If an unforgiving sociopath murdered your eight year old daughter, you’d hunt the sadist down and insist upon the harshest punishment available within the scope of the law. Some may even choose to take matters into their own hands. I am Clare Hreschak’s Daughter.
I am your daughter.