August 9, 2016

Escaping the Hands of the Abuser - Part 2

Today, we continue our series with Ivonne Meeuwsen. This week, she shares how she toed the line between death and life, and thankfully, chose life!

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I can always kill myself some other time.

Healing from child sexual abuse is often a long and winding road that leads past many twists and turns. My story is no different. I tell my story to inspire others to undertake this journey. Because in spite of being long, difficult and painful, it's worth every inch of it. Every footstep brings you closer to yourself. To who you were intended to be. 

After a few years in the USA, I'm growing weary of the life as an illegal alien. I decide to go back to Holland, perhaps pick up a study again and come back when I can become a legal immigrant. Back in the Netherlands, I find it difficult to make my way in society. It seems like everything I try, I run into a brick wall. 

The wall that is inside me, that stands between me and my past. Sometimes I feel like poor Hansje Brinker, with his finger in the dike. The dike is leaking and more and more my past is coming back to haunt me. I fall into a deep depression. I'm trying desperately to ignore all the signals of alarm my brain and body send me, but pushing away all the feelings I have is making my depression deeper.  Then, like a wolf who smells blood, he shows up on my doorstep. Instantly I'm twelve years old again, feeling lost and lonely. I let him in. 

That night, I decide to kill myself. I have gotten a hold of some heroin, and I decide that midnight will be a good time to do it. I'm sitting on my living room floor, crushed and broken inside, waiting for the clock to tick away the time. Then I notice something strange. For the first time since I can remember, I feel at ease. I don't have to pretend anymore. A great calm comes over me and in that calm I come to a decision. If I can live like this, I don't have to die tonight. I decide that I'm going to live and never have sex with him again! I have no idea at that time how I am going to accomplish that, but my resolve is firm. I also decide that, if need be, I can always kill myself some other time.

My house, having had him in it, doesn't feel safe anymore and for the second time in my life I run away. I move to a different town and leave no forwarding address. I'm very confused about this "relationship" I had with the abuser, but I can't see through the thoughts he has put in my head about it. My resolve not to ever have sex with him is the only thing I have to hold on to. It's a comforting thought that should I fail in that, I can always still kill myself. 

I'm not sure how I got into the conversation but I'm talking to a friend of mine when I first realize that I have been abused. She's questioning me about this "relationship" I had as a child. "Did he tell you that you're special? Did he tell you that your mom wouldn't understand, best not to tell her? That you're so mature for your age?" Affirmative. He used almost the exact same words even. I'm curious how she knows this. "My daughter was sexually abused when she was four years old, those are the things the abuser told her."

The penny dropped. 

I tried the words in my mouth. I have been sexually abused. The reality of it didn't sink in immediately, but I did know right away that I was going to need help. I called a therapist the next day. 


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Ivonne Meeuwsen is author of several books on child sexual abuse. Ivonne is a survivor herself of sexual abuse from the tender age of 12 until she was 19. In her book, I Thrive. Healing from Child Sexual Abuse, she relates her story, not just about the abuse, but about dealing with the long term effects of child sexual abuse. The book gives clear insight into all the major issues resulting from child sexual abuse: social anxiety, fear, dissociation, depression and more. She tells the story from the inside out, so people who have not been abused can gain insight and understanding, whereas people who have been there will find themselves saying, "Yes, that's how it was." 
Ivonne studied social work and coaching and has a thriving practice as an online coach, specializing in child sexual abuse. In addition, she organises symposia, trains and supervises therapists on healing from child sexual abuse.

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