• April Hardy

Child Sexual Abuse - My Story

Updated: Mar 19, 2019


Child sexual abuse is a topic that is very personal to me.  Most of my sexual abuse happened during my teens and is therefore considered child sexual abuse.  Even though I thought that I was living through hell at the time, a worse experience came when I learned that my daughter was being sexually abused by her dad and all of the things that came with that.


I think many people are torn on whether or not teen sexual abuse is CSA, but in my experience it definitely impacted me and my growth/maturity/brain.  Physically, when I started experiencing the extreme stress around my abuse and stalking, I stopped having periods.  In fact, I stopped having them for around 15 years.  My stress and hypertension never let up. 

Due to my abuse, I learned unhealthy and dangerous rules/expectations for romantic relationships.  To this day, if you give me a room full of men, I will be attracted to the worst one without realizing that he is bad.  I used to say that my next boyfriend would be a mass murderer or a serial rapist because they have seemed to get worse and worse as I have gotten older. 


Because no one ever rescued me, I learned that I couldn't trust or depend on anyone.  I was on my own.  Not even my friends helped, with the exception of one time when a friend stood up for me after a rape, which was cancelled out by two of my other friends drawing a rapist to my house and then leaving me there with him when I refused to gang beat him up...which resulted in me allowing sex that I didn't want just because he had already raped me and I knew it would be easier on me that resisting again. 


In the mix of sexual and other abuse and loss, I lost or never formed the ability to deeply attach to people.  I have been in a spiral of wanting deep attachment and being terrified of it for most of my life.  People at arms length usually hurt you less, or at least they can't destroy you...without a gun. 


Another experience from my CSA and other abuse was PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), which comes with easy triggers, which instantly puts a person into the primitive Fight, Flight, or Freeze responses.  People with trauma are often unable to think logically about fear situations because the reasoning part of our brains is surpassed for the primitive functioning area, and once a neuro-pathway has been established, it is always there.  Hello dysfunctional coping mechanisms!   



Additionally, there were false body images and the idea that I was primarily a piece of meat, a sex toy to be used by guys at their whim, regardless of what I wanted.  In fact, what I wanted was irrelevant and my self worth began to form around whether or not guys/men found me sexually attractive. 


I'm sure there were probably other things too, but I've had enough of memory lane for now.  Moving on...         


When my daughter told me that her dad had been sexually abusing her when my kids went for visits my heart nearly stopped.  When I went to our local child advocacy center to report it I was terrified because we had been there one time before and that was a pretty traumatizing experience for me.  An interview was set up where she was interviewed on camera by a professional trained in that interview process, with a social worker and a law enforcement officer watching it on a screen.  I was not allowed to be in the room or to see the recording as a precaution so that if I was abusing her and she told, I wouldn't harm her for it.  After the interview, I was taken into a room with the officer and social worker where they told me that they believed my daughter was being sexually abused.  I was told not to allow him contact with her, but not to let him know why because they wanted time to investigate him.  That went over less than well.  


After her case was transferred from the local law enforcement branch to the State Patrol, I was interviewed by a State Patrolman to make sure that I wasn't lying and that I hadn't influenced my daughter's accusation.  


The Child Advocacy Center set us up with trauma counselors and one in particular ended up being a God-send for our family.  Court preparation was horrible.  My daughter regressed in emotional age as a result of the trauma and the inexperienced attorney was worried that she wouldn't be able to testify.  I was in 2 car accidents during that time, one of which I fell asleep at the wheel because I wasn't sleeping at night.  I ended an abusive relationship after I had seen the counselor for a little while and she helped me find the strength to do that.  I was worried about my kids.  My son was acting out and my daughter was internalizing and regressing.  My job was massively affected and I was a single parent and child support stopped when he was accused (and has never happened since).  In addition to all of that, knowing my ex-husband, I was terrified that he was going to try to kill us before it went to court.  I would have visions of being shot in the head regularly and visions of seeing my children dead often too.  I was blessed to have a male friend stay with us for about 6 months to help me out and be there in case we were attacked, but there were still times that I could barely function as a person and the only reason I stayed breathing and fighting was because I loved my kids and they depended on me.


The kids and I went through years of trauma therapy.  My ex-husband ended up getting a plea bargain of 6 months, so he served 3 months in jail for raping our seven year old daughter for months, and 5 years of probation...which he ran from when his newest girlfriend filed a restraining order against him after he was released.  He was "on the run" for 4 years, being arrested at least twice in other states who promptly released him, further inflating his ego and belief that he could get away with anything.  I was afraid for my life every day of that time.  He is now in jail for leading a burglary ring and he had in his prohibited possession, 17-19 firearms among the stolen property.  My daughter is doing well, which I attribute to being believed, supported, and stood up for as soon as I knew what was going on, a great trauma counselor, and the support of an organization called B.A.C.A. (Bikers Against Child Abuse).  Although I wish I had known about B.A.C.A. when we were going to court (the will go to court with the child to help them feel safe and they vow to protect the child with their life if need be), they were really helpful in my kids and I feeling safer when my ex was hiding.  Our counselor passed away this March.  She is greatly missed.  As my daughter becomes a teenager and this stuff resurfaces (which is natural at different markers in a CSA victim's life), she will be missed even more. 


**When you have experienced sexual abuse and your child or someone you care about is sexually abused, re-traumatization can occur.  Don't be surprised if you start having PTSD symptoms and/or other triggers yourself.  It is normal, but it is something I recommend you seek help for,  Particularly if it is your child, they need you to be the best you can be for their sake.    


**Shop for your trauma counselor.  It is important that you find someone who is specifically trained in trauma and who is the right fit for you.  You DO NOT have to just take the first one you talk to.  


Bikers Against Child Abuse can be found at http://bacaworld.org/

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