The Silent Scream of Shame

By Gia 05/30/16

The cycle of active addiction allowed me to suppress the feelings my reality evoked, leading shame to grow from within.

woman holding her hands in front of her face in shame
via author

There is fear in talking about being a victim of rape; fear of not being believed, fear of what the perpetrator will do, fear of being judged, fear of being unloved, fear of being told you are to blame and the shame.

The cycle of shame – silence, ignorance, more shame - needs to be arrested. Silenced rape victims can’t ask for help, share information, and because they are prevented from getting identification from others and they cannot recover.

I was first molested when I was six years old at the hands of two teenage boys. They told me what had happened was “our secret,” and I would be in trouble if anyone found out. I was frightened and overwhelmed. I kept the secret and wished it away, suppressing the feelings, pretending that no one would ever know, burying it in my psyche hoping that no one would ever know, but of course I knew! Unbeknown to myself, I was a ticking bomb.

Consequently, I became an awkward individual, suspicious of others, hostile, with difficulty in expressing myself to others. However, I excelled in sports, locked into my own determination to win against this tacit, unseen enemy within that I had buried under layers and layers of denial. Being locked into this competitive dynamic I shunned friends, and discarded the ones that remained from childhood. I became lonely and isolated.

I felt like the character from Edvard Munch’s The Scream.

Edvard Munch’s The Scream

I felt misunderstood, looking for help in all of the wrong places with the wrong people. I sought validation and approval rather than self-acceptance. My negative self-talk had become full of self-hate, wanting me dead. 

Throughout my twenties I moved from one life-threatening situation to another. I surrounded myself with people who did not have my best interest at heart. I gave away my power and re-traumatized myself. Time and time again, I would find myself in situations that were full of high drama and danger, I lost count of the times I was beaten up and raped due to the unmanageability of substance misuse episodes. I was physically overpowered by predatory men in that drug-using milieu.  

The cycle of active addiction allowed me to suppress the feelings my reality evoked. Horror and trauma ensued until at the age of 31 when I decided to get clean. I had an epiphany, a metanoia changing my mind about my enduring, aligning death sentence; the drugs had stopped working. I was no longer able to numb myself. Serendipity followed and the insightful doctor referred me to a psychiatrist who helped me sort the wreckage of my past.

She paraphrased back to me that when I was a six-year-old girl, I had been raped; I was suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder, and the Adult Sequelae of CSA (childhood sexual abuse) and had no understanding of healthy boundaries. She confirmed that I had been coerced into maintaining a toxic secret. I began to acknowledge my feelings and cry, experiencing catharsis and healing. I re-experienced the feral unloved eyes of the two boys as they acted out their ritual disempowerment of myself. I started to grieve my loss of childhood innocence. My broken heart was my starting point and I started to heal. 

I no longer had to smile when I wanted to cry, and started to own feelings of being dirty, filthy, angry, sad, shameful and confused. I was no longer as sick as my secrets which I had exposed to the light of day where My Truth and I made the journey from shame to grace turning humiliation into self-respect, transforming night terrors into a peaceful night's sleep.

Armed with recovery insights, I realized that in order to be happy I would need to set the world to one side, make a thorough audit of myself and my own shortcomings. This process removed me from the blame game. 

Today, my past no longer holds me hostage and, in turn, I have no prisoners either. Recovery allows me to work on myself and look at my part in situations. Armed with this new awareness, I am responsible for retaining my power and I no longer go blindly where angels fear to tread. I no longer allow myself to be coerced into negative contracts keeping the secrets of others. Freedom is never free and mine is a pearl of great price and I never undervalue what I have had to do to win it. My greatest sense of wholeness has come from a courage I never knew, I had to rescue my inner child and give her the hug she so desperately craved.  

Life for me is about adapting to change and to grow both spiritually and emotionally so that I can be the best version of me. Recovery has allowed me to look at myself and given me a very clear sense of who I am. Today, I believe in miracles because I became one. I thought I never stood a chance at a happy and healthy life and now I have one.

I choose to stay clean because I found my soul mate, a girl worth living for. That girl is me. By sharing my vulnerabilities I found strength. There is power in those vulnerabilities too, because I know my vulnerabilities I am a strong woman standing tall in her own power.

Gia is a writer from London, England. Gia enjoys living life to its fullest and encouraging others to do the same. 

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