As soon as my “little secret” was discovered: that I was pregnant, I was committed to keeping it forever. Even from siblings and closest friends. No one had to tell me that I couldn’t tell. The wreath of shame that I wore, was a shackle of silence. My mother cried. My father was sad that his baby girl had been violated, and mortified that his son was the perpetrator.
The fear of the secret coming out, was palpable. If people found out, my father’s business could suffer. And then how could he support his family? What would people think if they knew that my parents not only had a pregnant young teenage daughter, but also a son who was a molester? That basically, as parents, they had failed? Remember, this was back in the late 70’s, when it was very shameful to be pregnant and unwed. And being young, unwed, and pregnant, was the worst shame you could bring upon your family… even if you were raped.
The only people who got to learn that I was pregnant were the people at the home for unwed mothers, where I lived for about 3 months. And even they never knew about the true identity of the father. I was told to concoct another lie about that.
After giving birth, recovering physically enough to go home, I spent a week at home before returning to high school. I was able to get caught up on the 3 weeks I missed, and resume life as if nothing had ever happened. But it had. And I wore the physical scars as wide stretch marks on either side of my abdomen. No need to get skinny now. I can never wear a bikini again. What I didn’t fully realize, was how I wore the emotional scars on my heart. I was full of anger, shame, fear, and resentment.
Once life settled into a routine, my parents saw to it that I saw a psychiatrist. All I remember of meeting with this woman, was my rambling on and on about stuff for about 45 minutes at a whack. I don’t remember her asking many questions or helping me make any sense of the whole situation. Frankly, other than having someone outside of my family to spill my guts to, I think she was basically worthless in terms of making real healing progress.
After that, I didn’t even consider doing any sort of therapy around all of this, until I was in my late 30’s. By this time, I had grown up, moved around a bit, had a few jobs and a career, got married, and was trying to have a family. I found a social worker who was a therapist, and began seeing her. What I appreciated about her, was that she didn’t just sit there and have me talk at her. She made observations, asked me questions, and helped me see how dysfunctional my entire family had been. I had been raped. Instead of being treated as a victim of a horrible tragedy, I wore a chunk of the blame when it was demanded of me that I had to keep the secret.
She began the process of my liberation by showing me the umbrella of shame that my entire family had become wrapped in. And that the situation was handled badly. The shift in perception brought about new realizations that were very healing.
I was able to look back at events with different eyes. Not only was the actual pregnancy situation handled badly, but during the early days of my being molested, my mother began to really ramp up in mania. This was before she was medicated for her bipolar condition. Her psychiatrist, at the time, thought he could cure her with talk therapy. (He was later sued in a class action lawsuit). My father couldn’t handle her and they separated. He left me with a mother who was crazy (and who was committed to a mental hospital about 2 years later), and a brother who was routinely raping me. THAT was messed up.
Finally being able to see how absolutely dysfunctional things were in the household, I truly began to understand that it really wasn’t my fault. They say that victims of rape and molestation often carry blame, and that they shouldn’t because it wasn’t their fault. I finally began to let go of some of that blame and shame. For the first time in years, I wasn’t totally pissed off at my brother. It felt good to let go of the burden of a big chunk of that anger.