I am a twenty one years old girl living in Dubai, UAE. I study in a well-known university and will soon be graduating from there. I am told I am intelligent, good looking and kind. My parents are keen for me to marry after I complete my studies. I regularly get many marriage proposals both from my family and outsiders. I keep on rejecting them without giving them even a second’s thought. The reason is not because I am arrogant or vain but because I can’t see myself spending my life with any man.
There’s a reason for this. I was physically molested many times in my early teens by an ex-servant in our house. He used to perform oral sex with me. This was a regular occurrence and lasted for three years before he got a job in Africa and shifted there. I knew it was wrong and I hated it but was scared of him. He always used to threaten me that he would kill me if I told anyone about it. I was young and I didn’t have the courage to tell anyone. Even now nobody knows about it, neither my family nor friends.
I still haven’t got over this sick and traumatic experience of my life and I don’t believe I ever will. I blame myself for it. I still get nightmares about this phase of my life. The effect that it has had on me is that now I can’t ever imagine having a physical relationship with any man. I can’t let any man touch me, neither can I touch him. Even thinking about it repulses and depresses me.
Every time a marriage proposal comes for me, I become overwhelmed by emotions and cry alone for hours locked up in my room. My parents don’t know about what happened to me earlier on in life and obviously they don’t understand or sympathise when I decline a proposal. They are very worried for me. I feel guilty being the cause of their worry but I can’t bring myself to marry anyone. The thought of letting any man touch me is unbearable. I would rather commit suicide than have a physical relationship with any man who becomes my husband. What am I supposed to do? Please help me.
Sexually Abused by Servant
Dear Sexually Abused by Servant,
I am very sorry to hear about what happened to you in your early teens. Sexual abuse is one of the most severe acts of destruction upon humanity in existence. It is by far one of the worst kinds of evil that can be perpetrated on a person by another. It’s traumatic to be a victim of sexual abuse, especially at a young age.
The first thing you should know is that it was not your fault. Most victims of sexual abuse feel terribly guilty, for a variety of reasons. They blame themselves for being abused in the first place. Please don’t blame yourself for it. Be aware of victim blame – victim blaming is holding yourself responsible for what has happened to you. Unfortunately, most people remain victims in their hearts, minds and souls after an incident or series of incidents such as these.
Another thing to remember is that you are not alone. Many women and young girls are walking on the planet today and have been sexually abused. You are not alone!
Sexual abuse gets stronger in secrecy. Do not live with the burden. Talk to someone, it will help you. It can be a loved one or a friend you trust. It would be best if you were to talk to your mother. This may hurt your entire family initially – with all things that are difficult, it may be painful in the interim, but will be less hurtful in the long run. It is a risk worth taking!
Just be careful as to who you disclose your hurt and trauma to in this area. Some people might hold it against you in future and regretfully victims of sexual abuse are marginalised by society to a degree.
Seek help from a professional therapist. It helps to understand your healing process. Find a professional therapist you can trust and who preferably is a specialist in dealing with such cases.
Prayer is a very useful tool. Become grounded in your faith to see you through this difficult time. You cannot overcome this in your own strength.
Work through the grieving process. Allow yourself to mourn the loss of your innocence through this experience. Allow yourself to move through the emotions attached – from denial, to anger, to negotiation, to depression, to acceptance.
This is a journey and may take some time. Give yourself permission to grieve this loss and caution your friends and family on the days you feel ‘off’ that you are busy dealing with ‘stuff’ and that they should give you space to process what you need to for the day.
Try and take good care of yourself while you are processing the grief. This hurt can be very destructive in this area and if a conscious effort is not made to control yourself in this area, it can easily spiral out of control.
Try not to return and rehash the past once you have processed it. Once you have processed the pain and dealt with it, move on from it. It is easy to become trapped in self-pity once you have been through something like this.
Choose to forgive yourself and to move forward in freedom. Do what it takes to forgive yourself. Journal, talk to friends and family, talk to God, write a book or an article about it. Forgiveness is for you, not for the offender and you owe it to yourself to be set free through the power of forgiveness from the chains that bind you to this experience.
Unfortunately, this article is not one that ends in a happy ending. You need to realise that the crime that has been committed against you as a victim is serious and that you will likely fight this battle for most of your adult life as different dimensions of the abuse arises.
Sexual abuse can invoke a case of multiple personality disorder and extreme disassociation in susceptible individuals. Unless this is thoroughly dealt with in the correct manner, very often people who are survivors of this extreme crime against humanity bear the scars for life.
Do some research on Rape Trauma Syndrome. Learning about the health and psychological conditions affecting survivors of sexual abuse has been cited by researchers as a positive coping skill associated with faster healing.
You are right in not marrying. I would advise you not to marry till the time you feel you are completely ready for it. Getting pushed into marriage will worsen your condition further and most probably than not, it would end in a failed marriage.