It took me a very long time to admit that I was abused. And the reason it took so long was that it took a long time for me to realise it was abuse.
Abusers play mind games, and there were two that got to me – first, that it was all my fault, and second, that nothing was really wrong. This second piece of mental torture made it incredibly hard to realise that what I was living with was not normal, but actually abusive.
I thought it was normal to be locked outside during storms. To be slapped around the head for minor infringements. To be made to redo all of my assigned cleaning because I missed a single spot. To have knives used to threaten me.
I thought it was normal to be always afraid. To never want to go home because I didn’t know what would be waiting for me there. To throw myself into extracurricular activities just so I wouldn’t have to be at home. And to feel guilt for doing that and leaving my little brother alone with her.
Even after I was safe, I rationalised away most of what happened. It wasn’t that bad. She didn’t beat us much, so it can’t have been that bad. Other kids had it worse. And then I’d just push it away to the back of my mind.
I suffered fears and highly emotional flashbacks from the day I left until today. I don’t know if I will ever be completely free of them, but realising that I was the victim of abuse means that at least I know why it’s happening, even if I can’t stop it.