When I went to therapy that was the question I wanted answered most. I felt that I had been abused. I knew I was damaged. But I needed validation. I needed someone to hear my story and tell me that what happened to me was wrong.
The more I told my story, the more validation I received. No one that heard my story questioned whether it was abuse or not. And this helped.
It helped because part of abuse is teaching the victim to doubt herself (or himself, but I'll say her just for simplicity). I didn't know what was true anymore. I didn't know how I felt or what I wanted. I no longer trusted my feelings or my judgment. The various abusers in my life had taught me that what I felt or knew didn't matter. They had become God -- they ruled my universe, each in his turn and setting. They created a new me. They programmed me to be what they wanted.
And as I continued with therapy I began to see more and more how much I had surrendered. Not because I wanted to, but because I had to. For survival. Our instincts to survive are so much stronger than our desire to be happy.
For a long time I was trapped because I was a child. I could not leave the situation because I could not take care of myself. And I didn't know if there was anyone who could protect me if I spoke up.
As an adult I was trapped again. Not because I couldn't take care of myself, but because I couldn't see that I could. I didn't understand that I could survive and find my way even if no one believed me or supported me.
It took a lot of therapy for me to learn to trust myself again. To finally listen to my own voice. To come to a place where I am willing to stand by what I believe without feeling the need to convince anyone else.
And I no longer need anyone's validation for this. I know I was abused. I know I was forced to do things I didn't want to do even if no one used a gun to make me do them. I know that without striking a single blow my abusers beat me into submission. I know that they have a wide array of weapons to use that no one but a victim can see. I know that doesn't make those weapons any less real. I know that doesn't make the threat any less dangerous.
And I know that the abuser often doesn't think he did anything wrong. But that doesn't mean he didn't. He doesn't get to judge if his actions were wrong. They hurt me. They damaged me. They changed me in a way that will never be gone. I will heal, but I will still have scars. And they did that.
Yes, I was abused.