Opening Up About My Childhood Abuse

Heather sitting in front of a porch

I found my voice in the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic we are currently living in. I continued to stay quiet about my abusive childhood for 33 years because I felt ashamed of my experiences and past choices. Past abuses traumatised me. As a world, we are collectively grieving many losses right now. This season of life has given me the time to think about the strong desire I’ve had to open up about myself in a more public platform. 

My childhood full of abuse

I am a Complex PTSD Survivor from Severe Childhood Trauma. As a child I was Sexually, Physically, Emotionally, Mentally, and Psychologically abused by some of my family members, family friends and acquaintances, my 4th and 5th grade elementary school teacher, and neighbors in various places we lived. As a teenager and young adult, I was Spiritually abused for 10 years in the United Pentecostal Church (UPC).

I was 26 years old when I escaped abuse fully. This frightful transition was hell for me. I was so used to being controlled by abuse, exploitation, and religion. For the first time I was out on my own with my husband and two young children, needing to make my own choices. I needed to find a way to move forward with my life without giving someone else permission to tell me exactly how to live my life. Unfortunately, I did not know how to make the greatest decisions because I did best with being told what to do. It was all I knew. I did try to make an effort, though. We found a good church after leaving the UPC rather quickly. 

I did not seek out a therapist to process hurt and dysfunction, and I did not know I needed emotional healing and recovery from Childhood Trauma.

Struggles with drugs as an adult

My plan was to leave my entire past behind me, and just move on with my life. This did not work out well for me, though. The thing about trauma is that no matter how good you are at pushing it down and ignoring it, the trauma always comes back up in the most inconvenient time. 

The next 5 years I would slip in and out of positive and negative decisions and influences. Within that first year, I knew something was terribly wrong in my brain. So I found an FNP to begin prescribing me medication. I tried more prescriptions than I can count. Aside from the negative reactions, I had to deal with severe withdrawals from Cymbalta. I was diagnosed with Cymbalta Withdrawal Syndrome. It took me a year to struggle my way off that medication.

During this time, I reenacted pieces of my childhood in ways I thought I never would have. I did things out of my character that I find hard to believe to this day. 

How abuses affected me as an adult

I remember when I would tell myself I would never steal the way my Dad did growing up. But here I was, making excuses for stealing groceries and toys for me and my kids. My reasoning was that we could not “afford” what I wanted us to have. 

I remember how my Mother cheated on various boyfriends and how I never would have imagined myself doing such a thing. Yet, here I was, cheating on my incredible husband with men who treated me like crap. Being mistreated was familiar to me, nearly comfortable and acceptable from what I was used to as a young child. I remember feeling betrayed and gaslighted as a kid, and how bad it felt to be told I was wrong for how I felt. But here I was, gaslighting my husband and lying to him about my double life

Off and on I struggled with severe suicidal ideation. I attempted suicide twice and am thankfully here and glad to be alive.

The long healing battle

The last 18 months have been all about recovery and healing. I see a Therapist weekly and have found the right medications to help me manage Complex PTSD and Anxiety Disorder. I joined a support group that meets monthly and I also spend my free time reading and studying. Writing has been healing for me as I share my story with others. I have chosen to be transparent about my life, hoping to help women who have experienced similar circumstances and situations. 

For much of my life I have occupied myself with shame, guilt, and regret of my past experiences and choices. I have strived to show my best self to everyone in my life and those around me. I wanted to build friendships and please people by only showing my well crafted “best self.” This is because I was not sure people would want to know me if they really “knew” me. It was not until this April of 2020 that I decided to be transparent and honest with myself and you. 

I do not have to be ashamed any longer. Nor do I have to hide my truths. I do not have to please people to make everyone comfortable and like me. I have chosen to be life out loud. 

Women empowering women

You may be asking, What am I losing for speaking out? Or, What will I lose for telling my story?

Let’s reframe these questions. What will women gain from hearing my story? What will I gain from telling my story? 

For example, you may be reading this right now and feel the urge to regain your voice and speak out about your experiences. That’s a wonderful idea! You know why? Because your story is worthy of being heard. You matter, and people want to know your experiences and how you overcame them. 

Not only do you have a story to tell, but you have coping skills that have worked for you that other women need to know about. You can be the empowerment that empowers the women around you to speak up and speak out for themselves. 

What experience have you been through that you feel others need to know? What did you learn from it? How did you get through it? What worked for you? What didn’t work? Other women have been through some of those situations or something similar, and may be in need to hear how you overcame specific obstacles. 

I am listening and want to hear your story. I can learn from you. Your specific voice can empower other women. There is an entire community of women around you. Be your voice and take the next step in your journey. Like Glennon Doyle said in her book, Untamed, “We can do hard things.”

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story by

Heather Hammett

My name is Heather Hammett, a Wife to My husband, Alfred and a Mom to our two precious sons, Josiah and Zion. My family brings me so much joy and are everything I love and hold dear to my heart. When I look at my loved ones, I see so many reasons to continue my healing journey.

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