Losing My Family
About a week after accepting that I’d been raped, I emailed my family – my parents and my siblings – and explained that Bubba was escalating. I asked for their support and that they not discuss me with Bubba if he contacted them. It is obvious to me now that either Bubba had already been in touch with them or they are just that clueless about abuse because one by one, they emailed and told me that they couldn’t support me fully because every story has two sides and they didn’t know Bubba’s side.
I was absolutely devastated. How could I tell my family that the man I’d been married to for nearly two decades hurt me over and over and over for years and they want to hear his side? The only acceptable response to someone telling you that they are being abused is to say, “I’m so sorry he did that to you. What do you need from me? How can I help you get safe?”
This did not happen with my family. One by one, they emailed me to tell me that they didn’t know Bubba’s side and that they couldn’t support me until they did. They wanted to know what I’d done to cause the abuse. They wanted to know how I had contributed to it. Actually, saying I was devastated does not begin to cover how I felt. There are no words to convey how utterly destroyed I was to find out that my family, the people who were supposed to love me unconditionally, didn’t love me like that and were saying that I was responsible for my own abuse.
I remember getting the last email. I’d hoped that one of my sisters would be the voice of reason – that she would support me. After reading her email, it was obvious that they’d all sat down and discussed my entire situation because their emails were all so eerily similar. My feet were knocked completely out from under me.
The boys were in school and Serenity was home. I went into my bedroom and locked the door, then I went into my bathroom, locked that door and turned on the exhaust fan. I sobbed. I let out all the tears that hadn’t been able to be unlocked before then. I sat, huddled in a corner, and sobbed my heart out. I cried out to God. I begged him to tell me why my family was turning against me when I needed them the most. I sat there and thought, “This must be what it feels like to go mad. I know what it feels like to go crazy because this can’t be reality. I’m losing my mind.”
I was so turned into myself and my pain that I was unaware of the passage of time. Eventually, I heard a noise that I couldn’t identify. I forced myself to get control of the sobbing and I listened. I finally figured out that what I was hearing was Serenity, pounding on my bedroom door, yelling, in hysterics. The mother in me immediately pulled it together and went running to find out what was wrong with my baby.
When I opened the door, Serenity threw herself into my arms, crying and saying, “You’re ok. I was so worried. Why didn’t you answer me?” I told her I didn’t hear her and I was only in there for a few minutes. She informed me that I’d been in there for over an hour and she’d been banging on my door for nearly 30 minutes. She was terrified that something had happened to me. She was so upset she couldn’t even think straight to call my friends to help her.
I was crushed that I’d scared my baby so badly. I told her that I’d been sitting in my bathroom, crying, and I hadn’t heard her because the exhaust fan was on. She asked what was wrong and I simply told her I was sad about the situation. I didn’t want to tell her about my family because she was very close to them. I was not about to ruin her relationship with them. It was adult business and I didn’t want her involved.
I sent them all an email simply stating that I understood that they couldn’t support me in this and I respected their decision. I then told them that I didn’t feel safe, knowing they wanted to be in touch with my abuser and that I would get in touch with them again after I got to where I was going in my journey to health. I set a boundary. They chose to believe that I would never again speak to them and they got in touch with Bubba and opened the door to his lies and manipulations. Then ended up eating it all up and believing every word he said to them.
My family chose my abuser over me. My family chose to throw away what they knew about me, what I’d shown them for 40 years – that I was a kind, caring, compassionate individual. More importantly, they chose to believe a man whom they hadn’t spoken to for a couple of years because of his previous behavior toward them. My world was now completely upside down. I’d proven over and over what type of person I was and he’d shown them what type of person he was but they chose to believe him.
What I didn’t know yet was that this was only the beginning of my family’s betrayal. It would get so very much worse than this.