What I have lost and gained from being abused as a child

If I had never been abused as a child, I may not have went looking for love in all the wrong places. I may not have married an abusive man (previously). I might have had a healthier sex life. I may not have felt blame and shame for all the times I was sexually harassed or assaulted over the years. According to research, if I had never been abused, I would not have higher risks of heart disease, obesity, and addiction. I would actually have a lifespan of 10-20 years longer.

If I had a father present in my life, chances are greater that I would not have been abused. I may have better relationships with men. I may have felt secure and able to anchor down. I may have given people and circumstances more time instead of rejecting them before they could reject me. I may not feel the need to make sure everyone knows I don’t need anyone for anything. I may not have felt such a void in my life that could never be filled by the next shiny object. I may have felt good enough and went out into the world with confidence. I may have been able to demand my words were taken seriously in the board room instead of the credit for my ideas going to my male counterparts.

Because I was abused, I learned important skills that would help me throughout the rest of my life. I keenly tuned into people and situations at a very young age. I learned how to predict what was going to happen next and how to prepare myself. In high school, while on the varsity basketball team, my coach said the greatest skill I had was anticipation (she probably wanted to say my only skill, lol). I was very good at anticipating the players’ next moves. In college, trend forecasting was my favorite class and I excelled at it. In my career, I was able to hone in on what mattered to prospective clients.

I learned what instincts are and how to trust my gut. I learned to question right from wrong. I learned to speak up for myself. I learned what abuse looks like and that it can come at the hand of someone you love and trust.

Most importantly, I was compelled to teach all of this to my daughter from the time she was born. Just like insurance, it is something you need but pray you will never have to use. Unfortunately, there came a day when she did need those skills I taught her, and she did just that. She knew right from wrong, she knew what abuse looked like and she spoke up.

Had I not been abused, I don’t know if I would have taught her those skills. I may have given her vague misguided advice like “don’t talk to strangers”. I would have never known to tell her that people she knew and loved could abuse her, even your own family members. I may not have been able to give her specific examples because that whole “don’t let them touch your private parts and bathing suit area” allows so much grooming to go unnoticed. I might not have been so diligent and repetitive in my teaching as my daughter matured. I might not have known what signs to look for and what questions to ask her after she was in the care of others.

Because I did not have a father in my life I grew up fiercely independent, never depending on anyone to support me. My mom, who became a single mom with a two-year-old at the ripe old age of eighteen, worked her ass off. She was never taken care of by anybody and never complained. She taught me from a very young age to be a hard worker. She taught me to be strong and persevere. She raised me to be a fighter. That hasn’t always served me well, but it certainly did when I needed it most. It gave me the fortitude and tenacity to get to where I am today.

I am truly amazed when I hear and read about so many people who have had life altering accidents or diseases say that they wouldn’t change a thing and they are better because of what happened to them. I would never say that about my circumstances or child abuse. I used to believe everything happens for a reason. I don’t believe that now. I believe you can take whatever happens and find a lesson or a silver lining if you choose to. I don’t believe what happened to me was some godly plan so that eventually I could help my daughter stop a child molester or put me on the path to teaching others how to prevent abuse. But I do believe had I not been through what I went through I wouldn’t have had the knowledge and experience to teach her what I did, and she may not have stopped a child molester, and for that I am grateful.