MDSA Members: In Their Own Words
"I just didn't have the understanding"
Women abusers seem to be so vindictive, so cruel. They know where to hurt you! I think the other major thing is the complete destruction of trust. Having a cuddle could never be nurturing, it was always sexual, yet I knew as a small child that my mother should scoop me up - I saw what other mothers did - yet I just didn't have the understanding.
"I had no boundaries "
As a child my body belonged to someone else and I had no boundaries. I never felt safe or whole. It almost feels like you are someone else. Almost as if you are the abuser. That you and her are one person.
"Where will I get my examples to live by...to model myself by?"
My role model to be a "nurturing mother" is my abuser. Where will I get my examples to live by...to model myself by? Who can I trust since the one person who society has placed as "the most trusted" figure betrayed my trust? Who do I go to ask my most intimate questions? Who will give me unconditional love? Who will protect me and guide me? Who will care that I was sexually abused?
"I can't touch any part of my body without reminding myself of my mother's body."
The hardest thing to deal with has been growing up as a woman knowing that women can do that to human beings, to babies for Christ’s sake!!! That I may be capable of that. It invades your very sexuality; I don't even have my gender to hide in. It would be so much easier if I could just hate men, but my bitch of a mother is no different to me. I can't touch any part of my body without reminding myself of my mother's body.
"It reinforces the feelings inside that you are a bad and terrible person."
I feel it brings on more shame, especially with societal beliefs in mother-daughter bonding, and a woman being incapable of committing such an act. It makes it harder for a woman to say that a mother did such things to her. To say my mother sexually abused me as a child seems to make people gasp and distance themselves. It reinforces the feelings inside that you are a bad and terrible person. It causes people to ask you questions about your sexuality, and you already have enough of those questions yourself.
"People don't want to hear about it and don't want to know about it."
I think that there is such a stigma to it. People don't want to hear about it and don't want to know about it. I think it must be really hard for people to hear that someone who is supposed to be so supportive of us can betray us so badly.
"always alone in my struggle"
The opportunity to fit in or find other people who can understand or who have had similar experiences and feelings is almost impossible. Also, there is little research or information available for me. Before joining MDSA, I had tried many therapists and many support groups and had never found anyone with experience in my type of abuse leaving me feeling always alone in my struggle.
"I began to realize I was a lesbian and this compounded my guilty feelings. "
The hardest part of being a survivor has always been the guilt of feeling/thinking/knowing it was my fault. Later I began to realize I was a lesbian and this compounded my guilty feelings...that this also was a reason I brought on the sexual relationship [with my mother].
"They are just people with problems too. "
Mothers are right up there with the American flag and apple pie. Even in general social situations where I might say my mom was weird or different, there is not a lot of support for bad mouthing moms! So, for a person to admit that their mother could be evil or mentally ill - well, that is really hard to do without a lot of support. Not all mothers are giving and wonderful. Some are mentally ill and narcissistic and selfish. They are just people with problems too. Not some model of perfect behavior. I even get the idea that well, she was your MOTHER so, no matter what she did, you need to forgive her because she is your mother!!! Some things come with no forgiveness.
"My children get either a robotic mom, a sad mom, or an empty mom. "
I sometimes do not have enough emotional energy to connect with my kids. Too often, I prefer to be alone, because my heavy heart is too full of past pain. My children get either a robotic mom, a sad mom or an empty mom. There are times when I meet their emotional needs, but there are times when I need to, want to and can't. I have to heal before it is too late.
"What would you like to tell therapists/therapists-in-training?"
Comment 1: Future therapists need to be on the look out for very strange behavior that their clients perceive as very normal. I would say to therapists - follow the pain. That is what my therapist told me she does and she has been so wonderful. I had felt in the past that some of my other therapists were afraid of my pain - afraid of the depth and intensity of it. I was terrified of it. But, she was there with me and still is through my pain.
Comment 2: What I would most like to tell therapists in training is please believe us and please don't show disgust. I know that this may be hard for them and they are only human, but it's seeing disgust on their faces that just makes you feel so dirty. Please don't fall for that rubbish about women being maternal all the time, and not having the psychological or physical capacity to abuse! As therapists you have the opportunity not to perpetuate that!
Comment 3: Please don't avoid or stop working with women who have been abused by other women. There are not enough people who want to work with us, yet there already enough of you who choose not to come near us. We need professionals who are willing to help us on a journey of recovery.
Comment 4: I would have them know that our need for a figure who represents "a good enough mom" is so strong that our transference will be intense. I would want them to be ready to handle being told things about events that are horrifying, difficult to believe, and true. I would tell them to have plans as how to care for themselves because we need really good Ts [therapists] to help us. Tell them to remember how hard it is to have the courage to heal. Finally thank them for caring, for working to become Ts.
* artwork on this page created by Kristen, MDSA Member