This month’s installment of We’re Here, We’re Queer is different than prior months. I firmly believe that it’s important for queer and trans folk in all kinds of recovery have a place where they can share their stories and read stories that relate to them.
Noah P’s story doesn’t have to do with recovery from a substance, they are in recovery related to childhood sexual abuse and the related effects that has had on their mental health. Noah’s recovery journey has been beautiful to witness. The way they talk openly and honestly about a topic not many people are talking about makes me extra proud to call this person my friend.
Recovery has many meanings. My recovery involves being intentional of taking care of my mental health and facing my shame.
What helped me be free from shame is speaking of what I am most ashamed of.
Reconciling my shame is what has lead me to feeling like I am on the road of mental health recovery. I am a queer non-binary transmasculine person, who is a mental health provider who is recovering from extensive childhood sexual abuse, PTSD, anxiety, depression and amnesia disassociation.
Being a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and incest has affected my mental health throughout my life. I had this fear that I truly was broken and therefore had no hope of feeling better and safe. My belief that I wasn’t good enough impacted my job and interpersonal relationships. My shame drove my anxiety and depression.
I am was not ashamed of what happened to me, two adults, one being my father, sexually abused me. This lasted for over ten years.
What I was ashamed of is that during the abuse, especially with my father, my body became aroused. Children want the attention of their parents. Most of the memories of my father involve him drinking beer and sleeping.. I can remember wanting his attention and that for much of the time, his touch felt good. When people think of sexual assault, people think of force and struggle.. I don’t think many people see it as something that can happen over time slowly.. That, especially for young children, it goes from helping during bathtub to sexual touch. In this slow progression the abuser has to make it “feel good” to their victim.
The shame I carried that perhaps I liked the abuse, and that I might have sought him out, wanting affection – in my mind that meant I was just as sick as he was. Even as an adult I can become aroused when thinking of the abuse. I thought I was disgusting and hated myself and my body for how I responded.
I am here to tell you that I now know that my body responded the only way a body could have, and that my going along with what happened to me aided it my survival. In order to make sense of what was happening my brain turned a terrible trauma into something manageable.
I am here to say that if you can relate to any of this, the abuse was not your fault, you did what you had to, to survive. Bodies respond to touch, wanted or unwanted, nerve endings react. You are strong and have made it through one of the most difficult situations that can happen to a person.
Acknowledging that other survivors have had similar body responses has help me shed my shame. I still experience anxiety, depression, PTSD and disassociation, though the disassociation has become less frequent. I consider myself in recovery from shame as well as my mental health.
We all hold inaccurate beliefs about ourselves… My mental health recovery has led me to challenge my inaccurate belief that I’m disgusting, broken, and am untrustworthy. I am strong, and have integrity. If you are a survivor of child sexual abuse… You did not deserve what happened to you. This was not your fault. You are worthy of healing.
Noah P. is a queer, non-binary, transmasculine mental health provider and advocate who lives in New England. Follow their journey on Instagram at @you_are_worthy_of_healing