This is the story and testimony of a twenty-six year old woman named Grace, who sent me a private email in the spring of 2012.
Grace found me through my Blog by reading my article on the severe, and sometimes devastating, effects of child sexual abuse perpetrated by a female, on a female child.
Grace confided in me that the reason for her online search was because, at the age of four, she had been sexually abused by her sister. Her sister was nine at the time, and the abuse lasted approximately five years.
When Grace first began communication with me, she expressed that she had been living in a same-sex relationship for almost four years. Grace loved her partner very much, and her partner and lover had been a huge source of support and encouragement for her. The two women even spoke of being together “forever” and of having children one day. Grace has never been sexual with a man.
Grace and her female partner had sex, but during the last two years of their relationship, Grace’s depression and general malaise grew, and the two women stopped having sex. This was incredibly difficult for Grace’s lover, but because of the love that Grace’s partner felt for Grace, she patiently waited for Grace to feel better.
During this time, Grace was extremely angry and fought with her partner on a constant basis. Looking back, Grace feels this was her subconscious mind trying to come out and speak up. Grace knew somewhere deep inside herself, that her sexual intimacy, and relationship with a woman, was based on the sexual abuse she endured by her older sister.
Although Grace blocked out most of the abuse for many years, she always knew in the back of her mind that something had been wrong with her interactions with her sister and, in her late teens, she wrote about it in her journal. Grace always remembered being “physical” with her older sister, and experimenting sexually with her, but she often blocked it out, excusing it as “we were both children, it was just natural sexual exploration.”
This form of denial caused Grace to not deal with the abuse head-on, and the knowledge of the incest consistently slipped in and out of her mind.
Grace revealed to me that she felt her sister might even have blocked out the abuse because it had been nearly twenty years since it happened. But as Grace examined her anger, she got in touch with the fact that her normal sexual, emotional, and mental development was severely stunted by the abuse.
Grace, like so many female victims of child sexual abuse, perpetrated by a female abuser, was afraid of opening up and sharing her story with others because of the voice that told her, “No one will believe you.” So Grace’s partner had been the only person she ever told about the incest with her sister.
Grace had originally contacted me because her soul was urging her that something was not okay. About three months before emailing me, Grace had become confused about her sense of self and her sexual orientation, and she had begun to feel the sexual abuse perpetrated by her sister had muddled her true sexual identity.
Grace had begun to realize that, because she was so sexualized by another female as a child, the sexual abuse directly affected her sexual choice as an adult. This was also the reason why Grace was so unhappy. Even though she was in a relationship with a caring, supportive partner who loved her very much, there was something that just did not feel right inside.
Grace, who used to work with children on a daily basis, left her job after telling her partner of the incest, because it was all she could think about, and it sent her into such a state of depression that Grace decided to go on antidepressants.
Grace wrote to me:
“I think I might be straight on the inside. I’m so confused. My partner and I rarely have sex, and I have very little drive or desire. It is so bizarre. I even thought I was asexual for a while! I have never been with a man, and I am thinking more and more that the abuse has muddled my sense of self and my own ability to recognize my sexual orientation in a healthy way. I wish I was able to be honest with myself, but I think the abuse is preventing me from seeing whether or not I am straight. This has taken me to a very dark and depressed place.”
Grace’s anguish had intensified before contacting me, because she had recently recalled the memory of her sister telling her as a child, “you can never tell anyone.”
Grace’s family is very close, and for years, Grace felt a sense of closeness with her sister, but once Grace truly became honest with herself, and realized that what she experienced as a child was abuse, she began to drift further and further away from her sister. This had become complicated for Grace because she knew everyone in her family would wonder why she didn’t want to see her sister. Grace knew that, even if she cut her sister out of her life, she would not be able to tell her family why.
Grace’s family, like so many millions of families where incest takes place, is notorious for denial.
During the time that Grace was struggling with these new memories, she discovered her abusive sister had become pregnant. Though Grace knew her sister’s child was innocent and had nothing to do with the situation, this did not stop her from realizing how much was taken from her, and that Grace was left to pick up the pieces, while her sister the abuser, moved on and started a family.
The pregnancy was disturbing Grace very much. Her family was very excited about the pending arrival of the new baby, and this was in part, creating anger in Grace. She felt angry that her sister never spoke of the abuse, and that her sister often asked why she was not invited over to Grace’s home.
It seemed to Grace as though her sister was forcing demands that she had no right to force. Grace found herself not wanting her sister over to her home at all; she just needed to work in therapy on how the abuse affected her life. By the time Grace emailed me, she wanted nothing to do with her sister.
The pregnancy was disturbing Grace very much. Her family was very excited about the pending arrival of the new baby, and this was in part, creating anger in Grace. She felt angry that her sister never spoke of the abuse, and for asking Grace why she was never invited over to Grace’s home.
By the time Grace emailed me, she wanted nothing to do with her sister.
When Grace told me she feared her anger would never pass, and that she would just have to deal with the trauma by cutting her sister out of her life for good, I offered Grace the phone number of my therapist because I knew she could help with every issue Grace was suffering from.
Grace soon began having hypno-analysis therapy with my therapist.
When Grace began the therapy, her memories included kissing her sister, and dry humping with her. Although she blocked out most of what happened, Grace did have a sense that there might have been oral sex with her sister.
When Grace started the therapy, she was willing to end her relationship with her female partner, if it meant being true to herself —if it meant coming to the realization that she was actually straight, and not gay. Grace looked forward to cleaning up her sexual confusion once and for all (she still did not know for certain what sexual orientation she identified with) because this was causing her a lack of self-love, and a profound lack of joy.
As the therapy progressed with Ysatis De Saint-Simone, Grace allowed herself to recall the oral sex her sister forced her into. This was an extremely uncomfortable memory for Grace. She remembered that she felt an aversion to oral sex with her sister, and had no idea how to do it, but innocently followed instructions anyway. Being close in a sexual way with her sister was pleasurable.
Through the hypno-analysis therapy, Grace was able to deal with the painful knowledge of how sad she had become as a child when her sister grew up and lost interest in her. Like countless victims of child sexual abuse, Grace was angry when the abuse stopped.
“It stopped because she started dating and going out with her own friends, leaving me alone like a used doll. I remember kissing, dry humping and at least one incident of ofrced oral sex (me on her). Yes, I experienced immense physical pleasure and remember wanting it. I have dealt with this in therapy with Ysatis and actually have felt the anger and sadness when she didn’t want to “do it” with me anymore.”
Grace ultimately realized that what she once thought of as “natural sexual exploration between children” was indeed abuse. She also realized that being sexually intimate with another female as a child caused her to become so deeply involved in a same-sex relationship.
This revelation created a need in Grace to be true to herself and to liberate her soul from the false idea that she was a lesbian. Grace eventually came to the understanding that she needed to break off the relationship with her partner.
Grace experienced much emotional pain and fear in ending her four year relationship with her live-in, same-sex partner. Grace felt as though she was losing her best friend, and her heart was broken. But being true to herself was more important than clinging to a relationship which was rooted in the sexual abuse by her sister. It was also unfair to her partner.
When Grace first emailed me, she was in a very emotionally distressed state of mind. As time passed, and as Grace continued her sessions with Ysatis De Saint-Simone, I noticed that her emails showed her increased strength and self-empowerment. She had taken back her personal sexual identity —an identity that was previously based in having been sexually abused by her sister, and in part, by her relationship with her father.
Grace wrote to me:
“The initial problem dealt with was my abuse story. Being victimized by my own sister has been something Ysatis and I have worked on. Another thing that came up was my aversion to men in general, caused by my main male role model (father). He was abusive to my mother, selfish, and reinforced the idea that I never wanted to end up like my mom, so I have avoided men. This has left me in a state of confusion and general depression, which is what I have been battling the hardest for the past month.
After coming to terms with my abuse, healing key events that have kept me trapped in the grip of the abuse, and also dealing with my image of men and the role I want them to play in my life, I thought my journey was over. I thought “Now that I know, I can move on”. Not so. I came to a half-hearted conclusion that I am actually not queer, as I had thought, and started becoming physically attracted to a male coworker. I broke up with my partner of four years. My ex and I were serious…we spoke of the future.
I should definitely add, though, that I was extremely angry and emotionally needy of my ex (also controlling, in some senses). This was my subconscious being unhappy with these plans we made… I would go along with the conversation, but was never truly, freely happy in the relationship. Whenever things were good, I would pick a fight. I was angry most of the time. I also have to add that through therapy, I have learned that my aversion to men is not only related to being led to believe that I was sexually attracted to women (through my sister’s abuse), but also to the general abuse I witnessed in my family, and the dysfunctional relationship with my parents. A lot of my attraction to the “safety” of women (all the way up to being in a romantic relationship with one) was my never wanting to be in the situation my mother found herself in, married to “that kind of guy” who was abusive in many ways (like my father). So, my parents’ model, in addition to my abuse by my sister, made me shy away from the idea of being with men. The abuse by my sister created the connection of physical pleasure and intimacy to women. This is a huge connection that I only made through therapy.”
By having the therapy with Ysatis De Saint-Simone, Grace renewed her joy in her teaching job, and worked on her self-confidence, and self-image. She slowly grew to a place of independence and security, and eventually began to make new friends and to be social. Grace even created an online dating profile, just to test the waters. She looks forward to meeting a man, and to do, and experience, what makes her heart sing.
As Grace worked through the memories of sexual abuse, her sister’s instructions to keep silent, and her feelings and emotions about her true self and her sexual identity, Grace also began to deal with the thought of disclosing the abuse to her biological family, including the very real possibility of confronting her sister about what she had done to her as a child.
After Grace spent time deciding whether or not to reveal her memories to her abuser, Grace made the difficult decision to write a letter of disclosure to her sister. Grace courageously sent that letter last week. The letter is printed below:
“I am writing because I have to settle something with you, and I need to do this in order to move on in my journey of healing. The past few years have been a nightmare of mental illness for me. The reason behind the distress in my life is the fact that I was used and harmed in an extreme way when I was a child. You sexually abused me. It was very wrong and you were 100% aware of what you were doing – you were already 10 and I was only 4. Your actions have left a very deep scar on my emotional, physical, sexual, and mental well being. They also shattered my image of you. I have gone from denial (even forcing myself to forget), to fear, to despair, to healing. In the past, I always remember feeling uncomfortable around you, even though we had moments when we got along. As I reached adulthood, I realized that the deep void in my life, my chronic depression, and my laundry list of physical ailments were rooted in emotional distress.
In the past year, I started looking honestly at what was done to me. I remember initially thinking, “We were both children; maybe it was just natural sexual exploration”. I soon realized that you knew very well that what you were doing was wrong (I remember your words: “You can never tell anyone”). It lasted years and you were much older than I – certainly old enough. I have been doing vigorous therapy and have realized that you were wrong in your actions. Words cannot begin to express how much the abuse has tried to mess up my life. But no more: I have taken my life back and have dedicated time to learning who I really am, and who I would have grown up to be if my innocence hadn’t been stolen. I wanted to say all this in person, but my centered decision was to consider the baby inside you and protect it from whatever reaction you have to this. The baby is not involved in this and I will not allow another child to be victimized by the events of so long ago. Now that you have given birth, you must know the reasons why I have distanced myself. I hope with all my heart that your child is not robbed of innocence. I also wanted to let you know that living as if nothing happened is extremely painful and uncomfortable for me. So, now that the baby is born, it’s time to settle this issue with you. To tell you I hate what you have put me through. I love you because you’re my sister. However, I don’t doubt that this is the wedge between us and I have gone through too much pain to brush it off. I have given thought to the fact that maybe you were victimized yourself – that is your path to engage in, and I think it is too severe to ignore.
There are certain people who I will never tell of what you did to me – why put them through that kind of pain? But there are other people who I have confided in and will continue to confide in; I am no longer scared to share my story. I have done nothing wrong, except deny myself of the full life I deserve because of my emotional, mental, and sexual confusions. You were wrong. My silence until now is NOT me accepting what was done to me. The time leading up to the writing of this letter has been a true process for me, and this is simply a step on my path. I have no idea what the future holds for our relationship. My hope is that you will one day find the strength to be as honest as I am being now. Please do not contact me with the intention of denying anything contained in this letter. If you do contact me, it will be from a place of honesty and wanting to build a truthful relationship – the kind that two loving sisters should share.”
…As of the publishing of this article, Grace has not been in contact with her sister. Grace will most likely share the outcome of her sister’s response on this Blog because Grace is extremely grateful that she began the therapy with Ysatis De Saint-Simone. Grace wants to help others by sharing her story and her journey, and I am so grateful that she has.
Please note that Grace contributed to the writing of this article more than fifty percent.
Update on Grace