Nathalie, Mandy and Esther were abused as children and tell their harrowing story: 'I was about eight years old.

"The police don't allow this," my grandfather said.

"If people find out, we should go to jail together."

This article is from Flair.

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Nathalie

(41) is married and the mother of two sons, aged 18 and 20.

She works as a residential counselor in care for the disabled.

"I was fourteen years old when my father saw me in the kitchen drinking orange juice from the carton. When he hit me on the head, I became angry. I knew my mother was sitting further down and could hear everything. not!' I called to him. "Like I have to look in sex books with you and all that other stuff." My mother came over and started yelling, 'Is what she's saying right?'"

"My father admitted it. My mother seemed to be very angry, but after a few minutes it ebbed away. She asked me who I had told. I indicated that I had informed my mentor at school. don't tell anyone," I was told. After that, it was never talked about at home. From that moment on, the abuse, which started when I was ten, stopped. But the fear that it would happen again remained. Every time I was home alone with my father, I felt unsafe."

My relationship with my mother was always a bit distant.

"It seemed like she never let me get close. She never asked me how I was doing, or what exactly had happened. Through my mentor, I was able to see a social worker. Because I found it difficult to cope with the abuse. I stopped having those conversations again. I struggled through the secret and the fear of my father on my own. I moved in with my boyfriend at eighteen, whom I later married. I fled the house. Not only because of what my father had done, but also because my mother had not protected me. She just stayed with him."

"My husband and I had two beautiful sons. When I became a mother, all kinds of new emotions came up. I was fearful and protective and I also became afraid that I might harm my children. After all, you sometimes read that abuse repeats itself. I I started looking for psychological help and that helped a lot."

"The relationship with my mother went up and down. Sometimes when I wasn't feeling well because of the trauma of the abuse, I would have flashbacks and nightmares. But then I missed her again. I kept trying that mother daughter bond that I had longed for as a child I wanted to give my mother the chance to be a grandmother I made an agreement that she would never leave the boys alone with my father Our visits always lasted only an hour or two and preferably when my father was not at home, but on holidays we did visit my parents."

"Now I think: why did I do that to myself? Then I already had a stomachache beforehand because my father would give me three kisses. And when we were there, I avoided any eye contact. I would put on a play for the children. to have a "normal" conversation about small things. That was difficult, but I didn't want to lose my mother. And she was with him. I once asked her why she stayed with him. "I can hardly be alone she then replied. As my sons got a little older, they became less and less fond of going to grandparents, which naturally reduced contact."

alarm bell

"Three years ago I found out that a great-nephew was going to stay with my parents. I was very shocked. My mother knew that it was not safe for a child with my father in the house? I rang the bell with my niece , so that the sleepover would be called off. Not knowing how my parents would react to the fact that I had informed family, I told my children about the abuse. "I knew," my youngest, then fifteen, said immediately. had sensed that. Maybe because #MeToo was talking about it a lot in school."

"Both children were very angry and, like me, they broke off contact with their grandparents for good. I had told my husband early in our relationship what had happened to me. He always had trouble seeing my father, but went on those holidays to support me. Now that I chose for myself, he was very proud. I struggled a lot with what my father did to me. But what my mother did - not protect me - I actually still find I find it incomprehensible that she can lie in bed next to him at night, especially now that I am a mother myself. The hope that she would leave him remained for a long time. That she would stand up for me. That hope I have now given up. Keeping hoping for it only hurts."

mandy.

mandy.

Photo: Petronellanitta

Mandy

(33) is single and works as an actress and theater maker.

"I was about eight years old when I once lay on my grandfather's lap and he rubbed my back. Then he felt his hand in my underpants. 'Mandy, the police don't allow this,' he said then." If people find out, we'll have to go to jail together.'

It shocked me. Prison was scary, so I didn't want to go there. And my grandfather was my best friend, so I didn't want him to go there, so I decided not to tell anyone."

"The abuse happened almost weekly after that when my grandmother was teaching dance. 'Can Mandy come?' my grandfather would ask my parents, 'Otherwise I feel so alone.' So then I went there. After that first time, the abuse quickly built up. Within a few months, my grandfather raped me weekly. It was something I was going through, it was part of it. While it was going on, I was in a fantasy world ."

"That's what they call dissociating. It's kind of a survival mode you get into because it's too intense to handle. I don't remember what I was thinking about. When he was done, I got out of that world and ran to the toilet. My grandfather would angrily come after me and yell in front of the toilet door. "You're a whore!" he would yell, "You caused this." In retrospect, I think it was in those moments that he realized what he was doing and dealt with it by blaming me. The abuse continued until I was 14."

"In recent years I asked him every time if he wanted to stop. Otherwise I wouldn't come anymore. He promised that. But then it happened again. Still I kept hoping. You had this side of my grandfather, but also a nice one I always hoped that the abuse would stop, so that only the nice grandpa remained. I didn't dare to visit. Because I didn't want the secret to come out. Afterwards there were signs that I was not well went. I became quiet and withdrawn. But no one suspected abuse."

Own fault

"I actually intended never to tell anyone, but when I was fourteen I suddenly threw it out to a friend. Just like that, during history class. She then informed the school and so the ball started rolling. I had to go to the teacher, who eventually had my parents come to school to tell them. "We are going to grandma and grandpa now," my mother said. She called her sisters and we went together. My grandfather admitted everything, but gave me the because I came to sit on his lap myself."

"An aunt asked if he had also touched her daughter, my cousin of the same age. 'Yes, but that was only a few times,' he replied very blasé. Even though I never discussed the abuse with my cousin, I felt I suddenly became less alone My grandfather always said it was my fault that he abused me, I provoked that But if he abused her too, maybe it wasn't me... My parents immediately cut off contact, my grandmother also kicked him out of the house for a while. But a few months later she let him come back. "I can't drop him," she said."

"After this, we didn't just see Grandma and Grandpa anymore, but also some other family members who decided to support Grandpa. Like the aunt whose daughter was also abused. She kept coming over with my niece. That the family fell apart because of this, made the process even more difficult for me. I felt very bad about that. And I missed my grandfather too, strangely enough. I did not have such a strong bond with grandmother, but of course grandfather had been very focused on me all those years . He was a very present person in my life, who now disappeared overnight."

"My parents immediately said that if I wanted to file a report, they would support me one hundred percent. After four years, when I was eighteen, I felt ready. He was then given two years in prison. I went to intensive therapy. That helped, but in my relationships I always had a block. I looked for relationships with older men. That was all I knew and because of that I never had an equal permanent relationship. I am only now at the point that I am ready for that. What has helped me is founding the We are M Foundation. The M stands for Abused, Powerless, Courageous and Beautiful. My goal is, among other things, to provide information in schools about abuse. Hopefully this will help children tell their story sooner Even if I can only make sure that the abuse stops with one child,then I have succeeded in my aim."

Esther.

Esther.

Photo: Petronellanitta

Esther

(47) is single and works in psychiatry.

"Do I have a stamp on my head that says 'Abuse me', I used to think. How could it happen twice that someone chose me to abuse? Did I provoke it myself? The first time I was abused , it was by a man nearby. He had good contact with my parents and they trusted him. So when I visited that man, they didn't think it was strange."

"I was six when he went one step further. It started with just cuddling and giving me a lot of attention. When more and more sexual acts came along, it felt strange. But you have no words for that as a child. You don't know what it's what happens to you. "If you tell your parents this, they will get really mad at you," he told me. As a child you believe that. So I didn't say anything about it. When I was ten years old, we moved and the contact with that man disappeared. I tried not to think about what had happened to me. And I managed to put those memories away nicely. If something came up, I immediately suppressed it out of self-protection. I don't want to think about this, I thought then."

Rebellious and lonely

"But when I was fifteen I got a weekend job where the boss started to give me more and more attention. At first it felt special. But when he started to move on, I lost a quarter. I've experienced this before, I thought at the time. Suddenly memories of the previous abuse came to mind. It may sound crazy, but I immediately felt that I had to cooperate, allow my boss to abuse, because apparently this was something that happened to me and I had to be guilty of it somewhere. That's how I was systematically abused by my boss for four years."

"I didn't tell anyone about it, it was a secret that I was very ashamed of. As closing time approached, I got nervous. I felt so powerless, like I had no way out. Every time I hoped it would stop on its own. But then he did it again And I felt like I had to cooperate again I was not doing well I became rebellious and argued all the time at home But actually I felt very lonely And because of so unmanageable that was further reinforced."

"At 19 it really felt like I was going to choke on it. This would never stop on its own and I couldn't live like that. On a whim I told my parents everything: also about the previous abuse and what happened to me at work. They were shocked, sad. I begged them not to take action against my boss. Talking about it was one thing, further action was too much for me. I called my boss and canceled with an excuse. He didn't ask and after that I never spoke again I had contact with him. My parents insisted that I talk to a psychologist. I did, but it was of little use to me."

Friends for life

"I wasn't open to talking about everything I had been through at the time, so I stopped the therapy after a few months. For years I tried to put away what I had experienced. I didn't talk to anyone about it, but it always played a role in my life. For example, I didn't trust people easily, had trouble with relationships. It wasn't until I saw a documentary about abuse a few years ago that everything resurfaced. I then went to a peer group and spoke for it first about everything I had been through. The women of that group have become friends for life."

"Of course a lot came loose. I screamed, cried. But they were there for me and it felt safe. It helped me so much that I also started a peer group myself. I also wish other women to finally release that baggage Last year I went to find out if my abusers were still alive They turned out to be both dead From one I was able to find out where he was buried I drove to the cemetery with a friend and left a letter at his grave burned to him. The tears flowed afterwards. But it felt good, like a closure. For years I was ashamed, I felt that I must also be guilty. Now I realized that I was a child; I was not resilient and The perpetrators took advantage of that. As a result, the shame I felt all these years is gone. I can breathe again."

For contact with fellow sufferers, look at the website of Stichting Revief, revief.nl

Keywords: mother, father, grandfather, parents., women, whore, nathalie, mandy, fear, abuse, story, children, kind, mentor, fault