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How Sexual Abuse and Trauma Showed Up in My Writing

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Editor's Note

If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

I loved being closed up inside of any room writing stories; it was my way to mentally escape. I tapped into my inner emotional being to push those broken feelings out and sprinkled them inside of fictional characters living chaotic lives. I enjoyed the feelings of peace and serenity that it brought me to release those hidden burdens. It saddens me though that I had to fictionalize memories that are tainted by a few horrific encounters that I’ve had with sexual abuse and trauma. My small circle of loved ones are unaware that I’ve been through more than I’ve admitted.

There is one painful memory that I never wanted to bring attention to because I felt confused, ashamed, and unsafe. The only abuse that my family was made aware of is a molestation case that happened when I was 13 by an adult in his mid-30s. I was targeted by a child molester after my 13th birthday. I never understood what he was doing when he slid his hand in my pocket to feel. He said that he was, quote on quote seeing if I had gotten any birthday money. He moved his hand around in my pocket inappropriately. That moment made me feel uncomfortable. Although at the time I was an oblivious teen. So, I thought nothing more of it afterwards.

Fast forward to a few nights later when he held me down in my bed, and told me not to tell anyone as he molested me. I had slow, tired tears flow down my cheeks. I felt that if I kept another molesters secret, I’ll forever endure this painful cycle of abuse until I withered up and died. So I told my family of the cruel and sinister act before he planned to do it all over again. All of the whispers and stares that I had to experience on that frightful day by neighbors wasn’t worse than being constantly sexually tortured.

A lot of mental disorders were triggered within my family, which is probably the reason many of my relatives choose to keep their secrets as ghosts to haunt them. My mom was diagnosed with schizophrenia soon after the incident. The fragile life of my siblings and I instantly flipped upside down. With what transpired I never had the courage to tell my family that there’s one more abuser who didn’t care. This abuser held my tongue hostage so that I would never say a word. I never felt like people would believe me anyway or be there for me since my mom had been institutionalized.

I tussled with heartbreaks, insecurities, depression, suicidal thoughts, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which crept in when I was a teen and has tormented me at 32 years of age. It wasn’t until 2019 that I mustered up the courage to write metaphorically about the sexual abuse that took place by a different abuser that no one in my life knows about. It is written inside a few poetry pieces that can be dissected by readers who read my chapbook, “Poetic-Li.”

Hence the ghost inside my stories. There are a few other books that I have written that also references certain trauma scars that were left by the ghost.

Photo of white tiled wall with winking ghost spray painted onto it

I wrote about the ghost with poetry because it wasn’t something that I felt comfortable vocalizing out loud. I was afraid that I would be viewed in a negative light by peers and become unloveable in a romantic relationship. It wasn’t until recently when I read a story on The Mighty by Mariel Bosque of her experiencing child-on-child abuse that I decided to open up about the pain of my past. I was unaware that there were other people that have also experienced a similar type of sexual abuse.

This horrible act made me feel incapable of having a healthy sex life with my husband. My mind would replay the trauma repeatedly making me feel dirty and unworthy of real lovemaking. My stories and poetry reveals sexual dysfunction, sexualization, and rape. I’ve touched on these topics as a coping mechanism. It was how I told parts of my story without it being about me per se.

Here is a piece of poetry where the ghost lingers:

Forever on the brink of untold truths
Daring to tell the tale that was withheld
Settling for zipped lips
Like a silent film
Lipstick on the rim of a glass flute
In my evocative age
The era of sage
I’ve decided to speak
My words unraveling in ink

Jalissa Carter, Poetic- Li

My first attempt at revealing the secrecy of that sexual abuse was in my poetry chapbook release. I feel like writing this today, in 2022, is a step towards more healing and less haunting of the mind.

Header Photo by Baptista Ime James on Unsplash

Originally published: May 11, 2022
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