Let me back up a little bit. There were certain aspects of my abuse that I was aware of throughout my childhood and up into my twenties. When I was about thirty, I had one of those "repressed memory" situations where I "remembered" some further, more explicit abuse. I've never been able to determine in my own mind how much of that other, more specific abuse actually occurred-- I was very young at the time, maybe about four or five, and the memories are hazy at best.
So for the record, when I speak of my abuse, I'm talking about the things I definitely remember, the things I knew about before the "repressed memories" appeared. But it wasn't until the repressed memories resurfaced (or my brain made them up, depending on which side you're on), that I took those other events--the ones I definitely remember-- seriously.
Because they "weren't that bad." I wasn't raped, I wasn't sodomized. I was just shamed and embarrassed and miserable--all in a specifically sexual context-- and I wasn't about to say one single word to anybody. I wasn't even old enough to believe I was at fault, I just knew I was in an ugly, uncomfortable situation and I had to deal with it alone.
At some point when I was in my late 30s, I realized one day that I hadn't thought about my abuse in weeks. It made me so happy. It still comes up --here I am, you know, typing this-- and every once in awhile it gives me a few really bad hours or even days. But it doesn't consume me anymore, and it sure as hell doesn't define who I am.
For me what has been more important is to learn to trust my own experience, my own knowledge of what happened to me. I'm leaving justice and karma to someone else (it will possibly sound too hokey to say capital-S Someone Else, but I'll do it anyway.) And that has been damn difficult, and it's something I still work on--not just in this particular context, but in other contexts as well. It also made a huge difference when he died several years ago. I've made major strides in being free of the whole thing since his death, even if he was frail and elderly at the end. I am often glad he's gone, and maybe that's my own little form of revenge.
So no conclusions, this is just what I've been thinking about.