Monday, November 7, 2011

A Survivors Diary on How to Survive Pregnancy.

Again I like to always remind all that read my blog that although I am not yet licensed in this field, I have dedicated my life and studies to advocate against this taboo topic and I believe that my first hand knowledge on the after math of abuse is important in finding bonds and similarities between all of us who have experienced or know someone who has been exposed to such horrendous crimes.
Ok, got the disclaimer out of the way………
Wow, I can’t believe it’s been so long since the last time I posted.   Although I have many valid excuses for being absent (school, books, pregnancy) I hope to never take such a long hiatus again.  My topic for this entry is something that many mothers who have been abused tend to never speak of yet the impact and implications of the matter are traumatizing in their own right; Pregnancy and post pregnancy.
Let’s state the obvious, everything changes when you are pregnant, your hormones, your body, even your vision for Gods sake, the list can go on and on.  For most, pregnancy is a time of great celebration and joy but for victims of sexual abuse this can be one of the most frightening experiences in the world.  I will share my own experience and hope that someone will be able to find solace in knowing that what they are feeling and experiencing is normal and nothing to be ashamed of.  The minute I found out I was pregnant with my first child, a girl, I was relieved and exuberated.  The thought of raising a man that could potentially hurt women was the most horrifying thing to me imaginable.  As the pregnancy progressed, the joy quickly shifted to terrifying thoughts of my baby girl undergoing the same atrocities I had witnessed.  Reoccurring nightmares and panic attacks soon followed.  Without the support and knowledge I have today, my first pregnancy was nothing short of a wicked joke God was playing on me.  I questioned why was even the most beautiful thing being taken away from me?
I remained silent, fearing that what I was feeling was abnormal and that people would question my ability to be a mother.  After my daughter was born, I struggled with the idea of changing her diapers, bathing her and even breast feeding her.  For the first months my husband did everything for me, except for feeding of course.  I was worried that she might feel strange if I had to touch her private parts to clean her.  Sounds ridiculous when I say that now, but at the time it was a legitimate fear.  I have learned now that this is the most common reaction survivors have with their newborns.  The depression began to sink in, what kind of mother am I who can’t even change her daughter without wanting to cry in fear that it might make her feel violated?  This is when I decided to look for help.  After learning that my emotions were normal and actually healthy my life turned around.  I now saw this little person that depended on me for everything, even changing her stinky diapers.  I remember clearly the words, although not so glamorous that was expressed to me by the therapist “Flavia would YOU rather let your imagined fear that your daughter is feeling ashamed as a 3 month old or face the actual consequences of not having her diaper changed”?  WOW, made me see things in a whole different light.
As she grew older, and more beautiful the fears became real again, as I am like a hawk where ever she goes.  Once a man told me that I had a very beautiful daughter, I looked at him and said “you are disgusting”! Imagine that, what did he do?  It was obvious there was more work to be done and I was still to afraid to come out to those around me, the ones you really need for support.   The fear is very real, the nightmares still come and go as they please but I began to accept that fact that I had not control over the future and could only focus on the present with my daughter.
As mentioned in my aptly named disclaimer, I was gone due to pregnancy and I was positive I had bit the fears in the rear.  I have exposed myself to all of my family and friends, I speak constantly on the subject, and there was no way that I would be affected, especially because now I knew exactly what to expect.  Quite the contrary, the minute I found out I was having a boy, my life shattered.  My fears were no longer what someone would do to my child but what my child was going to do to someone else.   I was mortified, I felt scared to think of what was inside my belly.  How could I love something so much and think of it as a monster?  Just to write those words make me want to vomit now, he is an angel, but the fear was real.  I was scared to tell my husband how I felt, I knew it sounded crazy.  After speaking with my counselor she informed me that again this is a natural reaction.  When every man you have ever known and trusted has hurt you, you have no option but to generalize.  I took a few therapy sessions to realize that my fears were just that, fears not actualities but it took the kind words of my cousin to change my whole entire perspective.  Her words changed me forever “Flavia, don’t be afraid your son will be perfect because YOU will teach him how to be a real man”. It brings tears to my eyes just to remember that, if it weren’t for that text message I might still be a little afraid.
For some women, childbirth itself is terrifying, being exposed in front of strangers in such a vulnerable position is traumatic and yet, they remain silent.  Breast feeding is also a common problem for survivors; the most beautiful bonding experience is now soiled and many stay quiet.  The life survivors live during pregnancy  and after having children is a hard one, always afraid that something might happen to their babies, always wondering if they are doing enough to keep them safe is always a persistent burden.  You must dig deep within yourself to know that you are worthy of the single most beautiful things in life, motherhood.  Don’t let your perpetrator steal that away from you, fight back, not only for you but for your precious babies.  They deserve a mother that is healthy and willing to fight.
“There is a secret in our culture, and it’s not that birth is painful. 
It’s that women are strong.” ~ Laura Stavoe Harm


  1. You need to be strong and know that you are a Beautiful woman. Let no one hold you back from your dreams.