After my parents split up my mum's new partner moved in. He sexually abused me from the age of six. We were taught to respect our elders and I believed that this was "normal", that it happened to every little girl at night as part of growing up. My mum married this man and I couldn't bring myself to tell anyone. At 14 I became depressed and was sent to a psychologist, but I couldn't tell the truth in case she told my mum and it destroyed our "happy family". Now my mum's marriage has broken up.
I'm now 21 and still I haven't told anyone. I want to bury the past, except that I've never had a boyfriend and never been kissed. I don't know what to do or who to turn to. I'm afraid that being abused will cause me to be alone for ever. Please help!
I understand your wanting to protect your mother and family, but you are important too. If the revelation is painful for them it wouldn't be your fault, but your abuser's. As long as you keep silent you're allowing this paedophile to continue hurting you. Then there's the high likelihood that he has moved on to abusing other young girls; he needs to be stopped. Abusers design their victims' sexuality, and you must prevent him from influencing the rest of your life.
This abuse was not your fault. Don't let your shame stop you seeking the help you deserve. Please reconsider talking to a therapist – you deserve to have some healing. Without it, you may not feel safe in any relationship. Read The Courage to Heal: a Guide for Women Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis.
• Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist who specialises in treating sexual disorders.
• Send your problem to firstname.lastname@example.org
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