In my previous post, I wrote about how important it is to speak up when it comes to such a sensitive topic as child abuse certainly is. However, doing so takes a lot of courage. For me, it was not easy to let somebody know my secret side. There were times I wanted to forget all about my childhood. Back in 2002, I moved to another country and thought I can start a whole new life. I’m not the type of easily adjustable person, I want to have some security in life, and as a 19-year-old, I was scared of such a significant change. But I had to do it. I don’t know if it can be called some self-preservation instinct, but it was something stronger than all my fears of the unknown. To make it short, I moved away, graduated, and found a job. I slowly learned how to communicate with other people. I found my purpose in life and almost everything seemed just fine. Almost… There were times as holidays when I was visiting my family when some memories came back. My visits became rarer; three times a year, two times, once, once in two years… I soon learned I must keep a distance from those memories. Fast forward, in 2012 I got married. My wife knows about my past, and back then in 2012, she was the only one who knew something about it. I’ve suffered clinical depression for years already and my closest friend knew about it but that was all. I rarely spoke about my childhood and was trying not to think about it, but to look forward to the future. I was taking my medicine regularly, and aside from some minor relapses I was doing well. I thought everything was fine. But in 2013, one incident changed everything…
That day, I was home alone. My wife went running some errands, I guess. I was bored so I was looking for a good movie to watch. I like movies based on true events so I searched in Youtube for some. I came across one movie that drew my attention. Before I continue, I would like to say that I usually ignored trigger warnings because at that time I thought I was settled with my past and nothing could trigger my trauma anymore. Well, I was wrong. I came across the movie that was telling the true story of two girls who went to live as the boarders with a woman and her children. One of the girls was severely abused by the woman, her children, and neighbor children. In the end, the girl died. That’s a very simple and short summary. I was shocked by what I saw. I will return to the movie at the end of the post. Now I just want to say, I was terrified with what I saw and after the movie, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Never before I felt something like that. It was like intense pain and sorrow. Even days after I saw the movie, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was so similar to my childhood. Of course, not the same, but so similar. The fear those two girls experienced, the helplessness they could feel when they couldn’t run away because they didn’t have where to go, the bullying, total lack of protection from grown-ups. The story hit me hard. It was so deep in my head I couldn’t stop thinking about it. So I made some research. I came across many articles, many details about that case and as I was studying more about it, the more it haunted me. And my past, all I experienced as a child started to come back. I started to have nightmares again. My depression was getting stronger again. It was not just the movie anymore. The feeling that such things could happen and that such things were happening every day was destroying me. I know and remember the fear I experienced when I was bullied at school and the fear I experienced at home when I had been waiting for my drunk father to come home from work was coming to me again. And thinking that somebody was experiencing it, too, made me sick. Literary sick. My depression and anxiety got worse. I don’t know if I can call it an obsession with that case (my wife called it like that); maybe the better term is an obsession with abuse as such. I came across a website dealing with this case, some posts discussed everything about it. And the victim was suddenly not only some movie character, but the real person with real background, like family, address, and so on.
Dear reader, if you are still reading, maybe you would like to know what helped me to cope with the mess in my head? A few months after I watched the movie, I joined that website and started to post there. Somehow it helped me when I was like a part of the story. I don’t know. Still, my own memories were coming back to me. I did something I had thought I would never do. I came with the idea to write a book. It was 2015 already. I’m not a very gifted writer (as you can see here), so I wanted to make it simple. It would be a diary of an abused child. The plot was simple: a girl struggling with her everyday fears. Same as I did. I put my heart in that book because all the character’s feelings were mine. And I got inspired by the girl whose personality was similar to mine in her age and who was tortured to death by her own mother. The fear, the helplessness. And the writing helped me. Helped me to put my memories out. The book was ready in a few months and soon it was accepted by a publisher. I was happy; happy that I could put my thoughts out.
Soon, the problems started. In my naivete, I shared the news about book publishing on social networks. As I mentioned in my previous post, the reactions from people around me were bad. No, it was not reactions like the book is bad, or short, or long, coherent or incoherent. The reactions were like: “why did you publish something like that?” “you should not write about child abuse but happy things,” “I hope you didn’t write about sexual abuse”, “the cover is ugly,” Simply I touched the taboo theme. If you wonder what was on the cover, it was a scared girl surrounded by skeletons (fitting for the title The Fear). Ah yes, another reaction: “how can you write about fear?” I removed the book from the market. I just didn’t want to push it anymore. I can’t express the feeling of disappointment I had. I didn’t push anybody to read it, I just wanted them to let it be. The book was intended for people who have some relation to child abuse topic and want to read it. However, I have friends who support me in that. They understood why I wrote something like that and helped me to cope with the rejection I experienced from people close to me. So everything was perfect again. I am smiling, because it should be like that, and most of the people around me don’t know anything about it anymore. They don’t have to. Only a few friends know what I was going through the last few years.
In 2020, I translated the book into English and published it on Amazon. I slightly changed the title and the ending, because I’m writing part 2, where the main character struggles with after-abuse life. A friend made the cover for the book, and I’m very thankful for it.
Dear reader, if you are still reading this, here is the movie that hit me so strongly. Since watching that movie, my life, my interest is not like before it. All struggles with the books and everything around it, started there. The movie is An American Crime and the character’s name is Sylvia Likens. The website I mentioned is not live anymore, but you can still find it here. If you decide to do so, please research, but with caution.
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