Can you heal from abuse? What do I do after leaving my narcissist? What does a healthy relationship look like? These concerns cross the minds of over 20 people every minute; over 28,800 people every day. And the sad fact is, we still don’t talk about it enough. Healing from Emotional Abuse isn’t a bandaid situation. But it doesn’t have to take years either. The lives of millions of other survivors around the worlds have been impacted by their narcissist. Yours doesn’t have to. To show you how to live a free, confident and peaceful life, your host and Founder of the Healing From Emotional Abuse Philosophy, Marissa F. Cohen.
Marissa: Welcome back to Breaking Through Our Silence. Today. I have an amazing friend here that is so empowered to tell her story. And I adore her. And I’m so grateful that she wants to tell her story. A couple weeks ago, I posted on Facebook about how much prison time abusers we’re getting just from my small group of friends. And it has been an outrageous zero with the very, very occasional sprinkled in some actual amount of time in prison. And that’s not okay to me. So Megan had this amazing story. And she has survived and overcome and thrived through her abuse. I’m so happy for her. And I’m so grateful to have her here. So thank you so much for being here. Megan, I’m so excited that you are willing to share with us,
Megan: Of course, thank you for having me.
Marissa: So would you mind telling us your story.
Megan: So I can’t remember when it first started. My memory just blocked it out. But the first memory that I can actually recall, I was nine. And I was laying in my bed. And it was my mom’s boyfriend at the time. His name’s Ed. So I was lying in bed. I forget where my mom had gone. But I wasn’t fully asleep yet. And he always made sure like, he thought I was sleeping. But he would come in, he would lay down on the bed next to me. And he would shove his fingers down my pants, and finger me. And then that went on every time my mom went out that just kept going on. And then he would progress. And I remember I want to say I was 12 or 13. And it was summertime. So I was in shorts. And I layed down. And I was just about asleep. And he came in and I knew what was going to happen. So I knew not to fall asleep. Because if I fell asleep, I didn’t know if it was gonna go further or not. So this time, he did the same thing. He came in, put his hands down my pants. But then because I was in shorts, I was laying on my stomach. And he climbed on top of me. But he never actually penetrated. He pulled his dick out and slid it in my shorts, but never actually penetrated. And he did that a couple times. But this went on for at least five years. There’s only one time that I actually fell asleep. So I don’t know what he actually did. I ended up telling my best friend Ryan at the time. And I was upset for something and it just came out. Because to me it was like normal at that point. Like it was going on for five years. I didn’t know any different, but my mom didn’t know or anything. But me and my mom didn’t have a great relationship at that point. So I was talking to my friend Ryan, and he was like, “Megan, that’s not okay.” I said “What are you talking about?” And he was like, “Megan, it’s not okay. You need to sell somebody.” I was like, well I’m not telling my mom; she’s not gonna believe me. So, we hung up, and I ended up getting grounded. But I was only allowed to talk to him at night. Like my mom, like he was a good influence person. So my mom would let me have my phone, talk to him and then go to bed. So the one night he was like, “Well, why don’t we do this?” He was like, “We’ll hang up, you give your mom back her phone.” He’s like “I’ll call back. Say we got disconnected. But I need to talk to her. And I’ll tell her.” I said “Do you think that’ll work? Do you think she’ll believe you?” And he said, “I think so. It’s serious enough.” And in my head. I was still young. It didn’t register that it was serious. Like, I had no idea. So we hung up. I handed the phone back and said “You know, we got disconnected. If he calls back, tell him I said good night.” And I went to my room and I just sat on my bed and I waited. You hear her hang up the phone because it was those old flip phones. So you hear it clank when it ends. And she comes in my room. And this is how bad our relationship was at first. She literally came up to me and goes “Is what I was told true? Because if not, you’re going to ruin somebody’s life.” Those were her exact words to me. And I was like, “Yes, it’s true. Like, what do you want me to say? Like I can’t, not lying.” And she was like, “Oh, we’ll go downstairs,” because my uncle and my brother and everybody were there. She’s like, “Go downstairs.” Well I started arguing. I was like “I’m grounded.” She’s like, “Go downstairs.” And I guess she went into the room with him and he admitted it to her. And she came back out, she called me back into my room. And we talked for a little bit I honestly don’t remember, what was said between us. But after that she slept on my floor. And then it was two or three days later, she brought me to the police station to make a statement. She was filing charges, I wasn’t ready. I was not ready at all. I actually sympathized with him. I didn’t want him to go to jail. I’ve known him for over five years. She basically forced me to make the statement, and I wasn’t ready. So I didn’t tell the cops everything. I never told him that he slid his penis in between my shorts, they only know that he fondled me. And that’s what they wrote down. So there was one time I fell asleep. And I still don’t know what happened, if he did anything further. But I didn’t tell him that, either. I just was not ready. He ended up getting six years. I didn’t have to go to court to testify because I was a minor. So I was 14 when it finally came out. So they recorded my statement. There is a permanent restraining order. No matter how old I get, there’s a permanent restraining order. He got six years for aggravated sexual assault on a minor. He actually got released July 2020. And I’ve had a couple times where I thought that I’ve seen him. But I don’t let it get to me. I tried not to let it affect me. Because that’s how he went. He still has that power. And I don’t want to let that go. I don’t look at myself as a victim, I look at myself as a survivor. Because he stole my innocence; he stole my childhood; he doesn’t need to steal my adulthood, too. If he’s in my head, then he wins. He still has that power. Even if he’s not physically harming me anymore, he still would have that power. And I don’t want to give that to him. So to me, in my head, it’s done. It’s over with. I can’t change it. I can move forward, learn from it, and teach my children that if you’re not comfortable with an adult, let me know. I can make sure you’re not around them. But that’s the only way that I’ll let it affect me. And that gives my kids a sense of security that they know they can talk to me. So in a way that empowers me more. And that’s how it’s been, like I said it happened. I can’t remember the first time it happened. But it happened, the first time I can remember, I was nine and I came out at 14.
Marissa: That’s a powerful story. And I really appreciate you saying that, you know, if you let it affect you and you let it impact you now you’re still giving him power. I think that that’s such a powerful thing to say. So what do you do in moments when you feel like you just saw him in public? Or if you ever get nervous or go into crisis? What do you do to stop yourself?
Megan: The first time it definitely caught me off guard. Because, honestly, I forgot he came out of jail. And the person looked identical to him. And I was like, if that’s him, I’m going to knock him out. I think I was 22. And I was like, after everything he did I want to knock him out. But I thought to myself, if I did that, because I had my oldest at the time, he was only two, and he was in the store with me. If I do that I’m going to jail. I’ll end up losing my child. Oh he’s not doing that to me, either. And I turned and walked away. I did notice that after it all came out. Because my mom, I didn’t want any of my friends to know, it was none of their business. They didn’t need to know. I didn’t want them to treat me differently. My mom took it upon herself to tell everyone. And her excuse was, “Well, I don’t want him,” because this was before he went to jail, “I don’t want him to come around and do something to one of them. They need to be mindful.” And at that time, like I’m 14, you know, I was like “That’s okay and all but what about your daughter’s feelings? Like, do I get a say in any of this? Like it happened to me, it didn’t happen to you.” And she was just hell bent on getting him in jail. And to me she didn’t take my wishes or my feelings into consideration at all. I did notice though, once he went to jail, I became very sexually active. It’s the only way I knew how to communicate. But once it clicked and I realized what was happening, I was like, “No, I don’t want to do that.” And I changed myself for that reason, because that was just another thing that he would have power over. And he’s not getting it. Like, it’s me, my body. He did what he did. But at the end of the day, it’s my body. And I have control over it. He doesn’t anymore.
Marissa: Yes! But you’re right, it is so common, a lot of people who, who experience either child sexual assault or just sexual assault in general, they kind of learn to objectify themselves and look at their body as a tool or an object. And so sexual activity, and that feeling of needing to be sexualized as the only way of getting affection is really, really normal. And it’s a coping mechanism. So what kind of coping mechanisms or skills do you use now to keep yourself level and sane? Do you do breathing? Do you go to therapy? Do you use any resources?
Megan: Honestly, I don’t even think about him. I don’t let him really enter my mind. And other than that, when I’m dealing with the kids, I just yell. I’m actually going to therapy, well I’m going to start therapy, to work on how to express my anger and stuff. Because I have learned that I do have a lot of anger. And it’s not fair to the kids. So I’m actually in the process of getting into therapy. But with all this COVID stuff going on, it’s very hard. I wouldn’t be able to do a Zoom meeting with them. Because the kids are so far up my butt, that they don’t need to hear an adult conversation of what I went through. They need to know that their mom’s happy and healthy. And that’s all they need to know. They don’t need to know my past and what I went through. So I am in the process of getting into therapy.
Marissa: That’s awesome. So I want to go back to your relationship with your mom. Has that changed, even though you felt disrespected? Like she didn’t give you the opportunity to tell your own story in your own time?
Megan: Oh, yeah, that. Well, after it all came out, that’s when she started heavily drinking. So that’s the only burden that I carried. If I never told, she wouldn’t have drank the way that she is. She’s still drinks. She’s calmed down a lot. But it was to the point she was drinking all day, every day. And I felt guilty for telling because that’s when it happened. I think she didn’t know how to deal with it. And that’s the only way she could cope with it, because alcoholism does run in our family. But I finally realized, that was on her, I can’t change how she reacted to it. It’s not my fault she started drinking. She’s the parent. She should be taking care of me. I feel like she felt so guilty. Because like I said, over five years, she knew nothing. And I think that was just the way that she could cope with it. And now, we’re at a place; I call her every day. We talk all the time. We don’t talk about Ed. That’s just a forbidden subject. But I’m okay with it. I don’t need to talk about him. He doesn’t need to interfere with my life and my relationship with my mom. It is what it is, to me.
Marissa: It happened, and now you guys can move forward. That’s amazing. And it’s really, really bold of you to be able to look past all of that. You know? And to be able to recognize that her alcoholism was her choice, and it wasn’t on you. That’s really strong. And I’m really, really proud of you.
Megan: It took me a long time to get to that point, at least like 10 years, to realize it was on her. But again, I was 14 at the time. So I didn’t know any better. But I’ve definitely grown up and matured, and have a different thought process.
Marissa: That’s amazing. So what advice would you give to other children who have been abused by a parent’s partner?
Megan: Give your mom, dad, whoever more credit and tell them. Yeah, there’s always that chance they’re not gonna believe you. But there’s a chance that they do. And that’s a little bit of hope. And if they don’t believe you, find another adult. Somebody will believe you. And tell them everything. I made the mistake. He probably could have gotten a longer sentence, but I wasn’t comfortable enough. Just push through it. I know it’s uncomfortable, and tell them everything because it will be worth it in the end.
Marissa: Thank you so much. And I agree. I think that if one person doesn’t believe you, especially when it’s in the family. A lot of the times it’ll split the family in two. People take the child side and the adult side and it causes a stir. But the survivor is never in the wrong, I think that it’s so important to tell people, tell an adult. Or a teacher, or your principal, or the school nurse, somebody that you trust. Thank you so much. Is there anything else that you want to talk about?
Megan: I can say, when I was 23, I ended up getting drugged and raped in Seaside.
Marissa: Oh my God.
Megan: So now on top of everything I dealt with as a child, I had that go on. And that was a whole big issue and a lot of friends, because he was a mutual friend of ours. A lot of friends took his side, as it always was. And I didn’t know what happened. Until my one friend. I’m not gonna name the names. But the guy, it happened at my house. I don’t remember leaving Seaside. I had one drink. I had one beer. That was it. And apparently, I fought my friend for the keys to drive. And I’m never liked that. Like if I know I drank, I’ll hand up my keys willingly. So I went into my room. The guy followed and locked the door. And my other friend was on the couch. And he heard what was going on. But I basically passed out; I have no recollection of it. And I didn’t know until the next day when he was like, “Did you want that to happen?” I was like, “Want what?” And he was “You don’t know?” I was like, “No, like, I went to bed. What are you talking about?” So he explained everything. And I was like, “No! Are you sure?” And he’s like, “Yes.” He’s like, “I tried breaking down the door. But I didn’t want to wake up your mom.” So I’m dealing with this all over again. But there was no proof. It would have been his word against mine. And, I’ll tell anybody that wants to know, but there was no jail time for that. I knew that it was just his word against mine. And I wasn’t trying to do that.
Marissa: The first time that it happened, you didn’t have to speak in court. You didn’t have to testify. And I love that, all of New Jersey, I think, has a really good setup for sexual assault. And I wish the rest of the country would mirror that. Because a lot of times, I mean, they have like a Children’s Center, specifically, that you go to, and they videotape you. And that’s really, really important. But going through the whole thing, again, as an adult. You know, being re-victimized. I forget the percentage, but the chance of a person being re-victimized after previous sexual assault is double. I mean, it’s huge. Because we have this target on our backs, and abusers see that and they smell it on us.
Megan: But I always took the precautions. And it wasn’t because of what had happened, because that was in my own home. I just, from watching TV and this and that. I watch a lot of SVU. So it’s like, nobody buys me my drinks. I make sure it gets handed straight from the bartender. If it’s a mixed drink, I watched them make it. And it still ended up happening to me. And I was like, well. And then I went through the mindset again of, “Well, I guess this is all that I’m good for.” And I had to re-go through that process and talk myself out of it and just say like, “No, like, you are worth much better than this. And you can get through it.” And to me, there’s something greater waiting for me. I’m bound to do great things in this life. Even if it’s just raising two amazing boys to come up to be excellent men. That can be my thing. But I’m here for something. I have survived so much for something. It can’t just be for nothing. And that keeps me going. I’m here for some reason.
Marissa: I love that so much. Thank you for sharing. I absolutely agree. I think you’re here for something huge, and I think that you’re gonna have the two best children who grow up to be the best husbands and boyfriends ever. So thank you for what you’re doing.
Megan: Thank you.
Marissa: Thank you so much for being here. I’m really grateful that you’re so open and willing to share your story for us. And thank you for doing everything that you’re doing to support survivors. And for coming on Healing From Emotional Abuse.
Megan: Thank you for having me.
If you enjoyed this podcast, you have to check out www.MarissaFayeCohen.com/Private-Coaching. Marissa would love to develop a made-for-you healing plan to heal from emotional abuse. She does all the work, and you just show up. Stop feeling stuck, alone, and hurt, and live a free, confident, and peaceful life. Don’t forget to subscribe to the Healing From Emotional Abuse podcast, and follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/marissafcohen, and instagram @Marissa.Faye.Cohen. We’d love to see you there!
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