Emotional Wellbeing

How My Sexual Abuse Has Affected My Parenting

I took the call in our wee-smelly car, in the car park at Macca’s. It was the detective I’ve been dealing with for the past few years and he was calling to let me know that the man that sexually abused me for 6 years as a child would not be even interviewed due to lack of eye-witnesses.

I tried so hard to hold it together. The lump in my throat felt like I’d swallowed a newborn child’s head. The heat of my face burned like it was the middle of summer and the waterfall of tears hurt me to hold in. Once he was done I just sat in my car bawling like someone stole the Minion from my Happy Meal.

Once again, my third attempt to get the man that stole my childhood from me has failed.

Later that evening, our two littlest spawn were in the bath, screaming and carrying on like someone was most definitely dying. The bigger one poured water over the other one and made her scream. I saw red and stormed in there screamingShut the hell* up, just shut UP”.  Ok so *hell could also be changed to the eff word, if we’re being honest.

I hurt my throat as I did it and instantly regretted it… though I wasn’t sure if I regretted screaming or regretted the pain in my throat from screaming. I can’t even remember how they reacted. Were they upset or weren’t they phased. Right then I didn’t even care. Later that night Batman smirked and said “I can teach you to scream without hurting your voice if you want…”

I was stressed and upset and like most parents I have bad days. We all have bad days. I do feel that most of my ‘bad days’ could have been avoided though. I shouldn’t have been sexually abused and I shouldn’t have to deal with detectives, memories and flash backs. I should be yelling at my kids because they drew what looks like a huge penis on the couch with Sharpies again, not because I was upset and stressed that my abuser will continue to walk around like nothing happened.

I am short tempered and often irrational, just like many mothers. I am tired and touched out, just like many mothers. I love being a mother and sometimes I really don’t like being a mother, just like other mothers. I suffer from mental illness, like many mothers out there these days so I would say I am your somewhat regular mum.

I don’t believe that my sexual abuse itself affects my parenting but the mental health problems that I have as a result of it have had a negative impact on the parent I can be.

I had my first child at 20 years old. I was not in any way ready to be a mother. I lived the life I thought I was destined to live – drinking, drugs, sex and too much partying – and was completely neglectful and dismissive to the needs of my child. I was parenting the only way I knew how which was just as I had been parented. My own mother and grandmother also travelled those same paths after histories of childhood sexual abuse. Statistically I was the way I was expected to be just as the generations before me were. I was unstable, inconsistent with impulsive moods and had very poor ability to control my anger towards my child. He was as young as three when we began to have screaming matches because I had unreasonably high expectations of his developmental abilities. I would smack him. One day I hurt my hand on the wind up on a broken bit of wood hanging from a drawer, snapping me out of my rage. I remember that day. I cried on the floor of my innocent child’s transportable home bedroom knowing I was losing the battle. I was becoming the mum I never thought I’d be.

My heart was always heavy and I cried all the time. He would cuddle me and wish away my sads despite that only minutes before I was about to unleash my anger and my impaired emotional states on him. Typical Parent-child role reversal. I was singlehandedly destroying my relationship with my son. The guilt I live with every day from that time in our life really affects the way I parent him now. I never was able to develop a protective motherly bond with him and I know I lack that connection with him now and I know he feels it too.

I have problems being empathetic to my children even to this day. I often feel I can not understand who they are or why they are the way they are. I’m often not sympathetic to their pains or cries and feel like their crying is just a burden and I put that down to being unable to relate to them as children because I am missing my inner child. My relationship with my smaller children however is vastly different. I am fiercely protective of my daughter and am frequently scared I’ll find someone/my abuser in her room or that people are breaking into my house, or that the men at the shops that try to talk to us are just after her. I am positive that I breast fed her for more than 2 years, baby wore, and still allow her to sleep with us more for me than her. I know I am over compensating now for past parenting failures and that will probably cause a whole new set of issues in a few years I’m sure!

While this all makes me sound like the biggest ass-hat of a mother there is, my life was and is slowly turning around.

I refuse to be a statistic. Every second of the day I am working on my ass-hat mum skills.

My childhood sexual abuse does not affect my ability to be a good mother, I won’t let it.

If this post was a trigger for you, please visit ASCA [Adults Surviving Child Abuse] for information on their support services.

This article is a follow-up to Antanika’s first article on reclaiming her childhood after surviving years of sexual abuse. You can read it here.

Avatar of Antanika Holton

I am 30, married to Batman with 3 kids, renting a house that’s much too small with way too many animals and furniture (I like furniture). There may be poo somewhere on the couch and my soul has black spots on it, I'll clean them later.

1 Comment

  1. Avatar of Jacqueline Cirillo
    Jacqueline Cirillo Reply

    You don’t have black spots on your soul. It’s pure light! Thank you for your honesty. I know exactly how you feel. You’re a great mum because you love your kids and you admit life is not ‘unicorns and rainbows’ all the time. Being a parent is hard enough but dealing with all the other things you mention makes you feel like you’re failing. You’re not!

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