Thanks to our presence on social media, we have been blessed to meet new friends. By sharing their story, they help us heal the world. We had a talk with Patricia, a brave, young woman who speaks up for all the children and survivors.
When did it begin and when did it end?
My incest rape incident happened suddenly and unexpectedly. I have whole chunks of early childhood I have no memory of at all. My prior psychologists and psychiatrists have analyzed whether this is due to complete suppression and blacking out memories or because I simply was too young to remember (age 2,3,4,5 years old) but I still don’t know. My earliest memory is from when I was 6 years old.
The specific incest rape incident began and ended on the same day when I was 14 years old, now 13 years ago, yet I still remember every single detail.
Who abused you?
It was my mother’s father (I do not call him my grandfather since that incident) who abused me while I was alone visiting my grandparents during the summer, as I had done every year.
did someone know?
After the incident, he drove me back to the house. He stayed in the garage while I ran up to my grandmother and burst into tears and began shaking in the bathroom. I told her immediately. She then told my aunt, my uncle, my cousin and my mother. They all knew.
were you threatened to stay silent and not tell anyone?
I was immediately threatened by him to keep quiet. We were walking on a small road outdoors after the incident and he said that it was for “educational purposes.” I believe he was trying to convince himself, and me too, that what he did was not bad. He thought he had all the rights and that it was normal. That’s why there was absolutely no need to tell anyone; specifically not my mother or my grandmother, he specified. He threatened that if I didn’t keep quiet, I wouldn’t be part of the family anymore and I would suffer. He said, “you’ll see what will happen if you open your mouth about this to anyone”. In shock and fear, I was just looking down at my feet barely walking and kept nodding. I didn’t say a word to him. He continued to be persistent threatening me that I better keep quiet, that I should be careful with my words, and listen to what he says because he knows best. I was in a state of shock and completely frozen as a coping mechanism; I was hearing but not listening. Moving my feet forward, but barely walking. Realizing, but at the same time repeatedly thinking this was a nightmare I was going to wake up from any minute.
What would the little you have needed at that time?
I would have needed my mother to stand up for me, in fact, my whole family. Instead, they denied it. They swept it under the rug. It happened, but also didn’t. It was not spoken about for 12 years until I couldn’t take the silence anymore. I spoke up about it last year. I exploded due to the lack of acknowledgement, lack of support and lack of love. It was fully and completely forgotten, it seemed like. Something that drastically changed my whole life was not significant for them. It was not important to talk about, to take action, to support. Instead, he was invited to Christmas dinners and life continued on as usual within the family.
How did it end?
It ended with me being moved to my aunt’s house a day later, in the same town. Meanwhile, I had to stay there for another night, and I was dreading it. He noticed I didn’t answer to him when he spoke to me, and he didn’t like it. Suddenly, the same evening, he told my grandmother to get me from the other room as he was fed up with my behaviour. I couldn’t believe what was going to happen. My grandmother was fearful of him, this I knew. She has been and always was inferior to him, so she listened and brought me to his room (they sleep in separate bedrooms). She was sitting at my right side as he stood in front of me saying “here we are, hosting you, and this is how you behave! By being disobedient with a bad attitude, I won’t accept it! I should send you back to your mother instantly!” I was sitting quietly, still in shock. He continued, “I want you to apologize for this behaviour now. It’s not acceptable!” I looked at my grandmother and she nodded slightly saying quietly, “yes, just go give him a kiss on the cheek and apologize. Go on”. I couldn’t believe the situation I was in, yet again. But I had no choice, so I quickly went up to him, touched my cheek lightly towards his and said “sorry.” “That’s much better!” He said. “Now, both of you get out of my room.” And so we did.
What’s most important for the child when the truth is acknowledged? what’s the biggest need for support? what kind of support?
The biggest need for a child is the acknowledgement - this is not a given factor for many. Once this is established, support in the form of real boundaries and limits, or even persecution against the abuser, is essential to show the child you are on their side. That you believe them. That you stand with them, not against them. That you’re doing the right thing. To TALK with them, discuss, discuss and discuss some more. To listen. All children want to be heard. To be believed. To have someone who’s there for them, even when something so horrid happens. That they’re not alone. Communication, action, and more love. Call the police. I did that but due to no evidence they couldn’t help me. Tell the family. Tell the people surrounding this person - because who knows who else the abuser has abused? Or if they will abuse again? It has to stop and it has to stop as soon as possible.
What’s most important for the survivor today?
The most important for us survivors is an open community space, I believe. If you don’t have strong loving support from family or close friends, that is essential. It’s a place, whether physical or virtual, where we can go, and meet others who have experienced this trauma. Where there’s no judgement, no disbelief, no “proving the point” and no fear. We need support, in all shapes and forms. Stability, reliability, trust. Exclude fear as much as possible in all its forms as the trauma has set deep rooted personal scars in every survivor.
Can one heal from the experience?
Yes, I believe we can all heal from this kind of experience; not because we have to, or because we should, or because we appear weaker if we don’t, but because we deserve to live a life filled with love. Because we are not giving up, or giving in, to whatever or whichever rules, pressure or standards others put on us. It’s not simple because we need to learn to love ourselves again. We need to love ourselves truly. That’s where ALL the healing is found. It sounds too idealistic and maybe even naive, but I strongly believe that through work on ourselves, with the help of techniques, methods and beautiful people around us, we are able to heal. One day at a time.
What’s your recommended path to healing?
A path such as ongoing therapy or holistic work - any healing process you can find will help you (meditation, yoga, travel, workshops, animal therapy, communities). A strong support system made of family, if possible, and friends. People who are there to catch you if you fall, a partner, an animal, a life long friendship. All of the above are some of the paths one can choose, modify, alter and adjust according to how they prefer, what suits them personally and what creates joy and love in their lives. I believe communication is key to everything. It has to start with communication. Communicating with yourself, understanding that you are loved, that it wasn’t because of you, that it was never, never, and again: never your fault.
Realizing and sitting with the pain, the challenging and struggling feelings of anxiety, of depression, of feeling less than, of feeling worthless, of feeling hopelessness. Feel it all. Then communicate with yourself. Make yourself understand that this was not your fault, that this was not something you did. You could tell anyone as soon as possible and be listened to, but even if you didn’t, that’s okay. You told when you were ready. You opened up about something so indescribable, exactly at the moment you felt you could. That, beyond anything, is essential to understand. Communication with yourself is where it starts, but it doesn’t end there.
Do you feel healed?
I feel partially healed, if I can say so. I feel I’m on the right path. Perhaps we feel healed, but we will never forget, of course, both the abuse and all the people surrounding it. I feel I’m on the path to releasing something big and heavy off my shoulders when it comes to this. Perhaps this will take years, and so it was meant to take years. Perhaps I will never fully, completely feel 100 % healed, and that’s okay. I need to remind myself, to keep my inner dialog healthy and pure. To not go back to self harm, suicidal ideation, clinical depression or self deprecating thoughts. It’s a daily practice. Just like everything else, all I need is to continue to practice. Every single day.
What advice would you give to The young victims (the younger version of you supportING another child suffering)?
If you can, go to your family and tell them. If you can’t, go tell another adult, a neighbour, a relative, the school teacher, your friend’s parents, anyone. Go tell them, because they will have to listen. If they don’t listen, don’t give up. Find all of the strength inside of yourself and go tell another person, another adult. Tell as many adults as you can. This is the beginning to end this. This is the beginning towards your healing, towards your future which doesn’t involve any of this abuse anymore. I promise you it will stop.
What advice would you give to The survivors today?
Your life is not determined by this incident. Your traumatic experience was indescribable, it was something so brutal and inexcusable that words cannot ever explain it - but know that we are many, all looking to support each other. We are here to listen to you. We are here to share, to heal, to find true healing and continue on this beautiful life journey we were always meant to take. You are never alone, because we are thousands, millions of survivors around this globe and we can see you.
We can hear you. We can hear and listen and support you. Know this. Know that you are so incredibly valuable and beautiful. Know that none of this was ever, and never would ever be, any of your fault. In fact, you didn’t have anything to do with this experience. You were a victim. You are not in the wrong. You are loved, seen, heard and there are so many here holding this space for you to open up, to come forward with your own experience and make sure nobody else will have the same experience as you did. We are fighting for a greater purpose, for those who can’t speak, who are currently being abused. We are holding the torch to carve the way for them and all of us survivors.
I see you and I hear you, I experienced it and I know. We’re in this healing process together.
Don’t forget to have your inner daily dialog check: you are so loved, you are cared for, you are here, survived for a greater purpose, your voice, your strength will help, it will serve, it will never again be unheard.
What advice would you give The relatives/family/caretakers?
Listen. If you can find it within yourself, listen. Not every family can do this, but if they can then listen. Hear it out. Just sit and listen. Don’t engage in psychological mind games, guilt tripping, ignoring it, engaging in denial or anything remotely close to these kind of reactions. Know that all we want is to be heard, to be acknowledged, to be supported and to be loved, to know that our families and relatives believe us, that they don’t sweep it all under the rug. Then, act. Create a strong network of even stronger surroundings. Call the police. Make a clear boundary for everyone within the family to know that, if you experienced incest, sexual abuse and rape, that this family member is no longer a family member. That this is not acceptable or normal human behaviour. That this was not the survivor’s fault. Continued communication, showing up, being there, asking (every single day) how they are doing, what brings joy into their lives and work on creating healing. Sit with them when they cry, or don’t, but be there. Tell them you are there for them if they ever need it. Sit with them in the pain, in the suffering. Make sure they are safe from being drawn into a dark thinking spiral. Read and educate yourself to recognize the warning signs, the red flags - both for the abuser, victims and the survivors in case they ever fall out of the path (which is okay, because it’s human). Make sure they’re safe. Communication, safety and action - it’s not easy, and none of it will be easy, but it’s essential, it’s necessary, it’s love, it’s survival.
Patricia Karlsson, Survivor, woman, teacher, student and yoga and meditation practitioner.
Born in Sweden, she moved to France, the U.K. and is now currently living in Italy. With six spoken languages emphasizing on creating a large support community, she is passionate about being involved in global healing, mental health and women’s rights against sexual and narcissistic abuse and being vocal about social injustices.
Thank you Patricia for your honesty, bravery, loving kindness and sharing your story with us.
You can express your gratitude and follow Patricia on Instagram @patricayogi