We are taught that our loved ones should be our comfort zone, they are our safe haven. Abuse has absolutely nothing to do with ‘love’; it’s 100% about control and manipulation. It isn’t just blood, bruises and broken bones. There are wounds that are invisible to the naked eye that are much more painful than a punch or a slap could be. Words that can make us feel inadequate, worthless and miniscule, even mere looks that can have us feeling like the most useless things to ever exist, not even worthy of being human, let alone a young person worthy of all the love in the world. You’re neither broken nor fragile, if you’ve been abused or for “letting it happen.”
You are not your trauma.
The following stories contain heavy mentions of sexual harrasment, abuse, mental illness and suicide.
“When I was 5 years old, my parents were always arguing and fighting and would constantly take it out on me. My mom would sometimes leave the house and my dad would call me names and abuse me and etc. At 6-7 I guess, they got divorced and I completely cut off ties with my dad. I lived with my mom at my grandmothers for a few years and my mom was extremely toxic. She would always make me feel like I’m the reason all of this happened and she’d take it out on me, so I developed really bad coping mechanisms. At that time, my dad was trying to contact me and I wouldn’t speak to him. My mom met this asshole on vacation and guess what? They got married. I absolutely hated him with all my heart. He was religious and forced me into his beliefs that I absolutely hated and would beat me when I wouldn’t pray, and because of that I almost completely lost faith in my religion because of him. He kept on beating me and the abuse went on and my mom actually ignored it, not only that but she would blame me and would just watch. As I got older the abuse was mild. He’d completely deny that he did anything, we had a normal relationship to an extent,but after that ethabl tany. At the time, I had just started talking to my dad again and I forgot about what went on because my dad changed and married a woman I loved. I forgot about the toxicity when I was with my dad and we had a plan: I was going to move back in with him. A month later, he passed away. My mom was forced to pay all of my expenses; which led her to have a ‘you’re ungrateful’ mentality because she pays for my hangouts and school etc. She blames me for my dad’s death (because he used to pay????, I really don’t know). I barely talk to them anymore. I’m always in my room, although there’s the occasional argument or two that go a bit extreme. I had multiple suicide attempts and what’s ironic is that, if you saw me; I’m the ‘happiest’ and most cheerful person out there. You’d never guess I’m the most lonely and depressed person I know. And all of this took a terrible toll on my mental health. And I ended up with multiple personality disorders, but it is what it is i guess. I really don’t know how im living.”
- Anonymous, 16
كانت في رمضان لما كنت في ٣ اعدادي و وانا ماشي جه ولد و قربلي و بعدين لمسني و بعدين عمل ايحاء جنسي و قعد يقولي الدنيا هنا فاضية متيجي. كان نفسي اضربه و واوقعه من عالسلم اللي كان واقف عليه حقيقي.
Translation: “ It was Ramadan, I was in 9th grade. I was walking when a guy approached me and touched me. He did a sexual gesture and kept telling me its empty here come. I wanted to punch him and make him fall down the stairs he was standing on.”
- Abdelrahman, 19
“I was 9, and my Mom had invited her nephew over. She was getting ready to drive him home and we were waiting for her together. He started stroking my cheek and getting super close to me, so I asked him to stop and step back. He didn’t, and my mom didn’t do anything about it when she returned to the room. He was 20 at the time. I was honestly so scared, I felt violated in a normalised manner—no one is raised to be wary of his cousins and their sexual tendencies.”
- NE, 15
“When I was 9 years old, my dad had to leave Egypt immediately for a year. My mom, over the course of 12 months, drove a nine-year-old girl to depression—and I don’t use this word lightly. She called me names, spoke of my disgrace, of my burden everyday, of how much I didn’t deserve the normal child-things—family outings and such. She would always make my 3 brothers super happy, cheer them up, get them treats, get them to go out and leave me alone until early dawn or whatever. Whenever I, a 9-year-old, went on with that heavy confrontation, she would make me feel like I was a needy disgusting child. It felt like she died the night Dad left. Now, at 15, these memories bring me down. I haven’t forgiven her; I never will.”
- N, 15
“Narcissism is usually hard to detect, but I could see it as clear as water in my mom. I’m sure as heck not a mental health professional but she just screams NARCISSIST. Constant degrading, physical and mental health abuse and never EVER owning up to her mistakes or apologising. I am, and will never be enough. I was a mistake that she wanted to abort and feels like she wasted her life on. She is superior and more knowledgeable than anyone and everyone. Lots of reasons really. “I hate my mother” I say as I see the look of disbelief in everyone’s eyes. But I truly mean it.”
- SM, 15
“I was very fond and supporting to my cousin (she’s a year younger than me) as she has been through a lot including abuse from her father while growing up. The last year and a half I was always there for her and loved her endlessly and never really judged her as I knew she was struggling a lot. The past year she has manipulated me through my emotions because she knows I have a soft spot for her. Last summer (2019) I found out that she snitched on me and betrayed my trust. I thought it was a one time thing, but a week later she did the same thing, actually worse, and it caused my mom, her mom, my other aunts and her older sister to get into a huge fight while I was literally broken-hearted and crying my eyes out because of her betrayal. This wasn’t the main problem either, she continued to blame me saying that I never understood her and always blamed her for everything, even though that was a full on lie because I was there for her even when we were continents apart and when no one else was there for her. Of course, I thought it all really was my fault. I constantly blamed myself and fell into a pit of depression, and failing my a-levels didn’t help either. She never apologized, and I know she never will because she holds her pride up high more than anything else in her life. I trusted her with my life and she just betrayed me in a blink of an eye. Several people in my family warned me about her, even her own brother, but I turned a blind eye to them because I loved her and knew her better than them, or so I thought. A word of advice to everyone out there, listen to what others have to say, and never put your trust in ANYONE blindly just because you love them, because you never know their true intentions. I wouldn’t have cared if this betrayal came from my classmates, friends or even my best friend of almost 12 years, but she was my best friend, my sister, my cousin, and quite possibly the reason why I started to love myself again, but she threw all of that down the drain just to prove to our family that im not the “perfect girl” they thought I was. Im not perfect, I never was and I never will be, but I trusted her with my secrets and insecurities just for her to use them against me. Also, parents PLEASE stop comparing your children to others, especially if they are close, because this somehow builds a type of hatred between people in the long run and unfortunately, my family learnt the hard way, and as a result, I don’t think I am able to trust anyone else with my emotions after that.”
- R, 17
“My story is an unending one, from a mentally, emotionally and psychologically abusing father, to bullies all throughout grades 4 to 12, to fake friends and boys trying to toy with my heart even till my second year of college, it has been a life full of manipulative people and abusers. My dad is not mentally stable, his instability, however, is difficult to detect and no one can see the problem but my mom and I, and no one has asked him to seek help but me, but he refuses to admit that he’s unwell and continues to let out his anger on us and hurt us, emotionally and psychologically, thankfully my mom’s getting a divorce, but I will forever stay with my ties to him. He can already tell that I don’t like him but he’s blaming me for only, “treating him as my ATM,” even though, throughout my life, he never showed me an ounce of love and always used the, “I paid for this and I paid for that,” excuse whenever I told him as a child that I don’t feel loved, he thinks that I’m materialistic and shallow, but it’s only how I am when it comes to him because he taught me that his love equates money. However, now, he’s been acting as if he’s going bankrupt and giving us less and less money, thinking that that will make me cling into him more, jokes on him, he is of no value to me beyond money. As for the bullies I consider it a chapter that has ended, I have forgiven some of them and stopped caring about the rest when I went to college because I thought I met a friend and a love interest worth forgetting the past and forgetting my trust issues, which was all a joke because one started treating me like shit and the other played and manipulated me, only causing my trust issues to reach their peak. I’m not gonna act like there aren’t other people there for me, friends whom I do trust and family members who do love me and care for me, but it’s difficult to see a beam of light when you’re walking through a dark path; it’s easy to spot but difficult to rely on in your journey. I was suicidal and I self-harmed, and with everything happening these past year and a half, I relapsed and, although I sometimes still regret not committing suicide when I was a child, there are moments when I’m thankful that I didn’t, and for those moments I choose to live. These are the moments that I want to create more of, every year my new year’s resolution is the same, to be happy, and this is what I plan to achieve at one point or another in my life because, otherwise, it would mean that I’ve lived and struggled for nothing.”
- NS, 19
“My boyfriend and his friends would sexually abuse me. He would do things to me that I told him not to do, and also his friends which were mine…”
- KZ, 14
“It was an abusive relationship in so many different ways, for starters it began when I was a 14 year old silly girl. He was the son of my mum’s best friend. We were pretty much raised together throughout our lives as I recall staying over for so many nights when I didn’t feel like going home they were my safe place and comfort zone. One day he decided that he loved me so, we should be together, and to be fair I had a little crush on him too but not the kind that I was going to do anything about it. Long story short we started dating and 4 months have gone by perfectly, like I never dreamed of. Then all of a sudden we were at his home all alone as it normal and we do that all the time, our families were so connected, he started approaching me and tried kissing me. I freaked out and screamed and insisted on going home so instead of apologizing he chose to hit me. Yes, he did. He slapped the hell out of me so that I don’t shout too loud just in case our parents were anywhere around the house or the stairs, I didn’t know what to do so I stayed silent and tried to sleep at their house as I didn’t have the keys to mine. Days passed and we are still together but it all changed. I didn’t trust him and I was scared to even be with him in the same room. He tried to do that multiple times and every time I refused he would hit me and with every time hitting just keeps getting worse. It stayed like this for a whole year. My mum would see bruises all over my body and I would tell her that they are from the cold ( I do really bruise from the cold weather ) and last he said he’s sorry and that he changed for the better and this won’t happen again and as a silly 15 year old I believed him. 2 months later he did the same thing all over again but this time I was beyond fed up. I broke up with him and didn’t go over there, for more than a year and every gathering I would just say that I’m tired or sick or have to study or whatever. After a while I knew he had a new girlfriend so, I couldn’t help it but tell him that he mustn’t do what he did to me with her because if he didn’t she won’t take it as easy as I took it and then I blocked him everywhere and whenever I see him by coincidence; I avoid him. And, if he comes near me by even 2 meters i just start yelling at him and throwing whatever I have near my hands. It’s been 3 years now since all this and i’m not even near recovery, sometimes my body hurts from the places he used to hit and even couldn’t survive writing this without crying.”
- Anonymous, 18
“She was my closest friend back then. She knew that I already had low self-esteem because of how much I was bullied, but that never stopped. She’d tell me I’m not pretty enough to ever have a boyfriend, not worth having one to begin with and anyone who’ll ever show me love will only be because they pity me or they want something from me. This was three years ago, she is no longer a part of my life, but all of the pain she caused is definitely still here.”
- Malak, 17