Thom Rispoli

by: Thom Rispoli

At first I did not want to tell my story out of personal fear. After some reflection I realized that if I can help one person by sharing my story, then it would be worth the pain of reliving the experience.

I was a victim of sexual abuse when I was a child. To this day making that statement takes the breath out of me. For years, I recalled my abuse and continued to protect my abuser. Part of that was due to fear. Another reason was that if I admitted that I had been abused, it would be real. I would then have to face what had happened to me. What made my situation even more difficult is that my abuser was my brother. He was 10 years older than me and I always looked to him to protect me. That is why I found it so hard to believe it even happened to me in the first place. It was not until my brother died 6 years ago (I was 25) that I finally felt free and able to deal with the abuse. I had always felt that I needed to protect my brother from what he did to me, even if it was at my own expense.

A child’s mind is truly amazing. If something is too difficult to deal with, the mind just blocks out what happened until it is able to deal it. You cannot choose when the memories that you have suppressed will resurface. The memories may come at time when you are ready to deal with them, but is anyone ever really ready to face the reality of the past abuse? At the beginning of my treatment, I took on a lot of the responsibility for what happened and I continued to protect my brother. After months of seeing a therapist and EMDR treatments I came to realize that it was not my fault that I was abused. I did nothing to bring on this heinous act. My brother was a sick person and his demons are not mine. I am not made to carry on the horror of my past into the present. Because of what my past holds, each day is a battle to survive. Every day that I win this personal battle is a victory. It shows that I can thrive in spite of what my past holds.

Now several years later I am still continuing to work through my abuse. I have come a long way in a short period of time. It is organizations like RAINN that make it possible for people to get the help they need. Rape, abuse and incest should not be taboo subjects. Maintaining the silence about these acts just perpetuates the cycle. These acts are things that affect real people every day and the less society talks about it, the more power we give to the abusers. The victims need to seize this power and break their silence.