The story of my stolen childhood in a blogby Ivano Abbadessa - 2013.11.05
Elisabeth’s childhood was taken from her. Or maybe she never had one. In her family, the men had sex with the young girls – it was normality, part of their culture: a macabre ritual that had been perpetrated for generations. She was first abused when she was two years old. As she got older, her father began to ‘sell her’ to make some extra money. Only thanks to her courage and her ability to resist was she able to survive.
She was 18 when she left home but it didn’t happen without physical and psychological repercussions, including being stalked and receiving death threats. She didn’t manage to salvage her first memory until she was 36 years old. “I have been on the path to recovery for almost seven years,” Elisabeth Corey tells West. “But I only chose to write about my experiences publicly in March of this year. Since most of my memories were repressed, it has taken many years to gain an understanding of the full extent of my experiences. I did not want to speak about my experiences until I knew as many details as possible.”
She has told her story in a blog, titled Stolen Childhood. “The original purpose,” she says, “was very selfish: I blogged for my own healing. It was very beneficial for me to speak my truth and do it in a public forum. It helped me take back some of the power that was stolen from me as a child.” But as time went on, the most important and gratifying aim of the blog has become helping other victims of sexual trafficking and paedophilia. She says: “There are so many people who don’t speak about the cruelty they have suffered. Through my experience, I have seen personally how a child automatically activates self-defence mechanisms to repress bad memories.”
“I receive countless emails from survivors. They tell me that reading my blog is an act of self-care or healing. Most importantly, they tell me that they no longer feel alone. I tell them they need to get help. Survivors of this type of abuse have a tendency to isolate. The internet is not good enough. There must be personal interaction with real people. It is important to find someone, just one person, that we can learn to trust. And a therapist can be a safe option.” But it’s not enough. “After that relationship has been established, it is important to find a form of somatic work. It can be as simple as yoga, or as complex as cranial-sacral therapy. This trauma is stored in the body, so somatic work is critical to recovery.” Elisabeth says it’s important to take care of yourself: “Overworking is a popular defence mechanism for a survivor of abuse. It’s a distraction – another form of dissociation.”
The most important message she wants to give victims is that it is possible to overcome the terrible trauma. “They can take their life back. They do not have to live with the anxiety, fear, sadness, anger and rage for the rest of their lives. Of course, there will always be some impact, but it doesn’t have to define us. We can be happy. We are allowed to be happy. It just takes time and patience to find the happiness we were born to have…”