Director Sasha Joseph Neulinger spent his childhood in front of a camera. His father Henry, also a documentary filmmaker, shot over two hundred hours of home video capturing every aspect of Sasha’s young life. But within the footage of birthday parties, family trips, and hockey games, something dark was hidden. Sasha revisits his father’s videos and the painful secret of his early years—a secret that would shift the course of his life.
Between the ages of three and seven, Sasha was sexually abused by two of his uncles and one male cousin. After Sasha came forward and spoke up about the abuse, his father Henry shared a secret of his own. Henry’s brothers, the same men who had abused Sasha, had also abused Henry as a boy. Sasha spent a decade entangled in the criminal justice system—and struggling to find his identity in the aftermath of his stolen childhood. This autobiographical film will unearth a historical case of multigenerational sexual abuse and by doing so, it will also give intimate and inspiring insight into one survivor’s healing process.
His website is at: http://rewindtofastforward.com/
His Kickstarter Project is at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sashaneulinger/rewind-to-fast-forward
Visual imagery with audio is a powerful tool. This film is quite significant for me as a survivor. I hope this young man succeeds in his Kickstarter project because I look forward to watching his film.
Once upon a time there lived a little girl named Paula Brave. She lived in a small house with her Mother and Father and two older brothers, Stephan and Mark. It appeared to most people that Paula was a typical second grade girl whose day included going to school, playing with dolls, and cuddling cats. But this was not the case for Paula Brave… Paula Brave’s true identity was a super hero warrior!
Chapter 1: Invasion of the Hand People
Bedtime seems like a harmless thing for most kids. “Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite” and then you are off to sleep in dreamland with no further thoughts of the day. This maybe the case for some kids but not for Paula Brave… After bidding her parents good night, Paula would go to her bedroom to change into her protective armor!
Preparations were underway for the invasion … the “Hand People” one of Paula’s most frightening foes. One touch from the enemy caused fatal death. Each night Paula prepared herself by putting on helmet and neck guard (winter hat and scarf). She would then roll up in her blankets securely like a cocoon. The blankets could not hang off the bed or the evil Hand People would have a way to crawl under the blankets to get her.
With helmet, neck guard, and blanket properly in place she could guarantee a night free of the poison hands. But sometimes this did not always work …
Paula wondered if the hand people got into her room through the window that separated her room from her brother’s room. She knew that could not be when she could not open the window. Even using her super power of strength! Paula laid traps (toys) in front of the window just incase the hands made it through window. “That will stop them for sure!” she thought. But sometimes this did not always work …
Sometimes the morning would arrive and she would find the window open with the traps (toys) moved or broken. How could this be?
The hand people could visit her dreams. In her dreams, she would come to a long hallway of arms with hands sprouted from either side of the wall. The door was closed and locked behind her and she was forced to make it down the hall without being touched.
One day Paula found her dream superpower and found out that she could fly away from the wall of grasping hands.
Chapter 2: The Hissing
Fighting with your brothers and sisters is considered typically a normal part of growing up. “Get out of my room!”; “Don’t touch my stuff!”; “You broke it!”; “That’s mine!”; The angry remarks could go on and for most kids, they fade away and are forgotten, but not so for Paula Brave. Sometime when Paula’s parents were not watching, her brothers would turn into SNAKES!
Her brothers would shed their clothes to reveal their scales. Her brother Stephen would become the snake Stephen and her brother Mark would become snake Mark. They would slither about hissing and ask her to play. They would ask her to play without her clothes on so she could be like them. The snake Stephan would stalk and capture Paula. He would wrap around her and move up and down on top of her. The snake-Stephen will flick his tongue on Paula and tell her to stop moving. The snake-Mark would only stalk Paula giggling and hissing while touching himself and Stephan.
Paula could not escape the tight grip of the snake and they could not hear her pleas “Stop it!” so she would use her super powers to take herself away from her body. She would travel to her cat named Tiger where she could be just a little girl with her kitty. They would play with yarn and Paula would feed the cat treats and pet her. Sometimes her cat would turn into a big panther that would protect her from the snakes.
When Stephan the Snake finally let go of Paula sometimes he would talk with the other snake, Mark, and they would stalk and touch each other. They would talk about special showers they would take for each other. Paula would come back to her body after playing with her cat. Sometimes Paula would cry because she did not like her brothers to be snakes and sometimes she did not feel well after being squeezed.
Before the snakes turned back into her brothers they would try to make Paula feel better by telling her how much better she is treated by her parents compared to them and how they were beaten and that she could only trust them and not to trust her parents because they might beat her. Other times the snakes would tell her she was a tattle-tale or a baby. Paula did not want to be baby or tattle-tale and she did not want to be beaten so she did not tell anyone.
Paula would then drift to her bedroom and play with her toys and cat. Sometimes Paula played with her friends outside. Sometimes Paula would forget that her brothers were ever snakes and she would try to play board games with them.
The times that Paula would forget that her brothers turned into snakes, her brothers would hiss at her to remind her. Their hiss was a long “TH” sound and had the power to make Paula cry. They would do this in front of Mom and Dad but her parents did not know their sons could turn into snakes so they would become angry and tell Paula to shut up.
Sometimes her parents knew that her brothers were making her cry and they would tell them to stop it.
There were many angry words and sad times in her house because Paula’s parents did not get along with each other. Sometimes her parents were very angry at Paula’s brothers because they were getting in trouble at school for fighting or doing drugs. Paula would use her super power to go away with her cat so she did not have to hear the anger.
Chapter 3: Tainted Treats
Eating yummy ice cream treats is a fun way to spend a hot summer day. Children that live in the city or suburb look forward to a visit from the ice cream truck. Playing music and ringing a bell. The children run as fast as they can to buy the cold treats. Paula’s family lived next door to an ice cream shop so they did not have to go far to enjoy a sundae. Sometime when Paula’s parents were not watching, her brothers would POISON Paula’s ice cream!
When Paula’s brothers became snakes they would ask her to do things for them and they would give her ice cream. Paula knew she had no choice but to do what they asked but she was not going to eat the ice cream after they poisoned it.
Snake-Stephan would pull Paula’s face into the place where he went pee. First he asked sweetly, pretending that he was not a snake but her brother. Paula whined “nooooooo!” Then he told her that she was going to do that and he would reward her with the best ice cream the shop could offer. Paula whined “nooooooo!” Then he used all his snake cunning and put Paula’s face into the place on his body where he went pee. Paula cried and tried to move. Using her super powers she drifted away to her cat. But she could still hear the snakes hiss, “Haha! She is doing it!”
When she came back to her body, she was frightened and alone on a chair in the basement. Paula’s brothers opened the back door to the basement and cheerfully brought her some ice cream. Paula began to cry. She did not know why she was crying but she did know that she did not want to eat poisoned ice cream. Then Paula’s Dad came in and wanted to know why she was crying. Paula could not talk because she was too sad. Paula’s brothers told their Dad that Paula asked for ice cream and they went to the store and bought her some with their own money and now she does not want it. Stephan exclaimed, “She is nothing but a big BABY!” Paula’s Dad did not know why Paula would be so mean to her brothers and refuse ice cream that they bought for her. Paula’s Dad said, “GO TO YOUR ROOM! HOW CAN YOU TREAT YOUR BROTHERS LIKE THIS!”
Paula went to her room and fell fast asleep and thought no more about the bad trick that her brothers played on her.
Chapter 4: Attack of the Killer Swing
Playing on the playground, sliding down slides, swing on swings, and laughing out loud; a kid in grade school could pass the hours in a park or a backyard with such fun things. Paula’s friends lived just one block away and in their yard was a swing set where she loved to play. But on one particular day the swing that she loved so much turned into a BEAST with sharp teeth!
Today was like any other day for Paula: eat breakfast, watch TV, play with her dolls, and of course her brothers taking her to the basement where they turned into snakes. Just like before, Snake-Stephan would stalk and capture Paula and wrap around her and move up and down on top of her while flicking his tongue. “Stoopp Ittttt” Paula would whined. Snake-Stephan shouted, “STOP MOVING!” Paula started to drift off but this time was different. This time she felt pain. This time the crying started before he was done with her. She then felt no more and drifted further away than she had ever been. Her super powers had grown stronger.
When she came back to her body, she found herself in the upstairs bathroom wondering how she got there. She felt a sharp pain between her legs. “How embarrassing to hurt right there” she said to herself, “Maybe the pain will go away. Maybe it will go away if I go play”. Paula left her house to go play at her friend’s house. Her friend had to eat dinner but said she could wait outside for her on the swing set. Paula loved to stand on the swing and pretend she was Tarzan. But when she climbed to stand up on the swing she felt an unbearable sharp stab between her legs and then looked down to see blood trickle freely down her legs into her shoes.
Her mind began to race and she became drenched in worry. “It must have been the swing” she muttered quietly to herself. “How embarrassing!” she cried. She went to the friend’s door to ask to use the bathroom. She thought to herself, “I just need to clean this up so know one will know”. Her friend answered the door and let her through to the bathroom. Everyone was in the kitchen and her friend did not notice the blood. Once the door was shut, Paula pulled down her shorts and underwear that were now soaked with blood and tried to wipe up what she could with toilet paper but the blood just kept coming.
It had been a few minutes and Paula’s friend Cathy knocked on the door. “Are you ok in there, Paula?” said Cathy. “Ah well …. I have a problem” Paula replied trying to sound causal, “there is this blood”. “BLOOD!” exclaimed Cathy, “Let me get my Mom!” Paula continued to wipe up the blood from her legs and off her shoes with toilet paper. Then a knock came to the bathroom door again “Paula? Are you okay? I am going to come in.” She opened the door, “OH MY GOD! Go get a towel and wash cloth Cathy!”
Cathy’s Mother helped to clean Paula up and then Paula sat on the side of the tub with a towel between her legs while she waited for her own Mother to get there. Upon her mother’s arrival, Paula could hear Cathy’s Mom tell her own Mother before they entered the bathroom, “She said it was our swing but I don’t see how it is possible since her shorts are not torn … And it does not seem like a period and she is too young for that”. Her mother dressed Paula and put her in the car and drove her home. Paula lay in her own bed with a towel between her legs as she continued to bleed. Her parents started to argue about taking her to the hospital and finally at last her Father picked her up, walked her to the car, and drove her to the emergency room.
Paula was questioned many times about what happen and Paula remained firm that the killer swing was to blame. The doctor told Paula’s Mom that Paula had cuts inside her vagina and he was considering stitches but thought that would take surgery. He wanted to keep Paula over night at the hospital but Paula’s Mom started to scream and cry repeatedly “NO!!!!” Paula got to go back home and sit in a tub with warm water and wear a pad between her legs. After a few weeks her vagina did not hurt and bleed no more.
The killer swing was removed and thrown away and none of this was ever mentioned again.
Chapter 5: Super Hero Warrior
Paula Brave Little Girl Super Hero Warrior lived to fight another day. She built a fortress to fend off the dreaded Hand People. She battled the venomous snakes. She avoided the poisoned ice cream. She had the beastly swing put away where it could never hurt another ever again. Truly, Paula Brave is a Super Hero Warrior.
The snake named Mark turned back into her brother after the monster swing was defeated; However, Paula continued to fight off the snake named Stephen for a few more years. Eventually, Stephen moved away and life started to get better for Paula. Paula’s life was forever changed … for even a Super Hero Warrior carries scars from battles that have long passed.
To make copies of the above poster go to: http://www.somesecretsshouldbetold.com
Under the picture it explains how to make your own 8 1/2 X 11 copies.
Please post where adults and children can see it.
Desire and Defense: Survivors of Sibling Abuse challenged by Intimacy (Amy Meyers, PhD, LCSW February 19, 2014)Posted: March 18, 2014
Our primary motivation is to feel a sense of connection to others (Fairbairn, 1952). The root of all connectedness begins with mother-infant, yet siblings soon become a key source of emotional connection (Winnicott, 1971). When children lack nurturing relationships in their home, they search for that connection throughout their life. Families set a precedent for how its members understand closeness with another person; how they think about connectedness; and how they experience intimacy. Because victims of sibling abuse do not have a model for a “healthy” and satisfying connection, there is a tendency in adulthood to seek out relationships that repeat aspects of their previous experiences.
Survivors of sibling abuse endure feelings of helplessness, powerlessness, and inferiority that erodes self-esteem. This ultimately influences the nature and quality of relationships to others. When one’s most trusted peer—the sibling—betrays the sanctity of that relationship, the idea of closeness—and of intimacy—becomes fraught with danger. As a result, survivors develop defenses against and within intimate relationships as an attempt to self-protect from re-traumatization.
See more of the article at: Desire and Defense: Survivors of Sibling Abuse challenged by Intimacy
Also see her latest journal article:
Meyers, Amy. (2014): “A call to child welfare: Protect children from sibling abuse” Qualitative Social Work March 12, 2014. http://qsw.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/03/09/1473325014527332.abstract
Sibling abuse is extremely common, yet child welfare does not provide statutes for its identification and workers are not trained to identify its occurrence. This retrospective study explored adults survivors’ experiences of childhood and adolescent sibling abuse and the family environment that engendered hostile sibling relationships. The varying parental responses from punitive to neglect to collusion with the perpetrator resulted in feelings of helplessness and worthlessness in the victim. Personal narratives of survivors highlight the sibling abusive experience and underscore its devastating repercussions. Recommendations are presented for child welfare to establish sibling abuse as a phenomenon in need of recognition and include siblings in risk assessment.
“Resolution of the trauma is never final; recovery is never complete. The impact of the traumatic event continues to reverberate throughout the survivor’s life-cycle. Issues that were sufficiently resolved at one stage of recovery may be reawakened as the survivor reaches new milestones in [their] development.”- Herman, JL. (1997). Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence – From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror. New York: Basic Books.
Very nicely done Handbook for Parents of Sibling Sexual Abuse. Click on the above image or link below to see the handbook:
This booklet is for parents of children who have been sexually abused by their brother/sister. Such form of sexual abuse is called “sibling sexual abuse.”
Sexual abuse can have harmful effects on both your child who has abused and your child who has been victimised. Indeed sibling sexual abuse affects the entire family.
When sibling sexual abuse happens in the family, you, as a parent, may blame yourself and wonder what you have done wrong. You may experience many feelings such as anger, sadness, grief, guilt and confusion.
The truth is that parents often want the best for their children and even though parents try their best to keep an eye on their children at home or monitor their children’s activities outside the home, sibling sexual abuse can happen. Sibling sexual abuse is one of the most common forms of sexual abuse.
It is important for parents to have a strong understanding of sibling sexual abuse so that they can deal with the situation, and support their children towards recovery.
Clearly there were major “red flags” my parents should have seen in my childhood indicating I was raped and being sexually abused yet these signs were completely ignored. It should not be surprising to anyone that after my bloody rape (aka – the evil swing that I talk about in my Paula Brave story) at the age of 7 that my mother started suffering severe depression and was admitted in-patient a few times to a psychiatric unit. Even though my mother thought my bloody rape by my brother was nothing more than a tragic playground accident on a swing; somehow this must have triggered her own past childhood sexual abuse by her father and a brutal rape by an older teenage boy when she was 15. When my mother became pregnant from the rape her father brutally physically assaulted her in the abdomen in an effort to cause her to miscarriage the baby. When this did not work then he forced my mother to get an illegal abortion (this was back in the 50s). The only people my mother ever told this story to were me and my father. Since my mother died this past August … it is time her story is known.
I now realize the reason why my parents never followed up with my own pediatrician after my rape “aka swing incident” and they did not take me to see the doctor until 7 months later was because my mother was is in a complete mental breakdown. However, while her complete mental breakdown was going on, my brother was continuing to rape me. The rapes did not stop after the first. And this was all made possible because I was left in my brother’s care while my Dad left each evening to visit my Mom in the Psychiatric unit. Then when my mom came back home, my parents would go out almost every evening to bars, dancing, bingo, drinking with friends because my Mom needed to have a good time to raise her spirits up … the rapes continued … My parents drinking was almost daily for most of my childhood.
When my parents found my diary when I was 16 and read about my sadness because of the way my brothers treated me and overwhelming depression due to my brother raping me so many times … their response can only be described as a drunken out of control rage focused on me. They did not believe me. We sat at the kitchen table as they downed several cases of beers while mocking my diary and my poor attempts to answers outrageous questions such as, “HOW MANY TIMES DID HE DO THIS TO YOU?!!!”, “GIVE ME SPECIFIC TIMES AND PLACES WHERE THIS HAPPENED!!!” “DO YOU REALLY EXPECT ME TO BELIEVE THIS BULLSHIT!!!” “OH, POOR YOU! YOU HAD IT SO ROUGH!!!” “STOP CRYING!!!!” “WHY ARE YOU CRYING?!!!” “ANSWER ME DAMN IT!!!” “HOW CAN YOU MAKE THIS UP ABOUT YOU BROTHER!!!” “YOU ARE PURPOSELY DOING THIS TO RUIN THE FAMILY!!!”
These responses and other horrible things they said about me should have made me want to run away from home but instead I drew even more into myself and wanted to die. I just sat there crying hysterically until they sent me to my room. I fell completely under my mother’s control and accepted any cruel thing that she said to me without comment. A part of me died that day and night they interrogated me. What little self-esteem and self-worth I had was deed. My mother did not like my friends so I had to give up ones she did not approve of and she constantly complained about any contact I had with anyone outside the family. I learned to keep my mouth shut and “suck it up” and “deal with it”. She told me about what happen to her and that she “forgave” her father (even though she mentally broke down every time we went about him). She told me I had to do the same thing as she did and sacrifice myself for the good of the family. I had to shut up about all this for the sake of the “family” and keep the “family” together at all cost.
I did not start regaining parts of myself until I moved out of that home when I was 21. My parents finally believed me only after I was able to give them what they considered as solid evidence and when they finally believed me then they completely broke down. The solid evidence I provided was a reminder about the “swing incidence” (rape) and I provided the true clarity of that event and I reminded my father of another time he punished me for refusing my brother’s “ice cream gift” (a reward for forced oral sex). A light bulb came on and they questioned me no more (this was when I was about 30 years old). However, after this awaken for my parents, my mothers physical health went completely down hill with colon cancer, obesity, type 2 diabetes, congestive heart failure and numerous other health conditions and my father’s gambling problem went completely out of control and my parents had to file for bankruptcy and my father also made two suicide attempts.
If there are any parents reading any of this and have a child that has been sexually abused a sibling then I would encourage you read this pamphlet …. Don’t make the same mistakes my parents made. If you have been sexual abused by someone else in your childhood then get help … Don’t keep it a secret like my Mom did by taking it to her grave while all the time she suffered on the inside. If you have a drug or alcohol problem or even question if you do … Don’t wait to get help, seek help now! You will not be able to help you children as long as you remain STUCK in your own problems from the past and your current problems or additions that impact you today.
I have had the good fortune to correspond with a gentleman with childhood sexual abuse experiences similar to my own. His story can be found at: http://www.livingwell.org.au/from-men/johns-story/ (John’s story)
A quote from his opening paragraph could have almost been written by myself: “My story starts in the late 60′s, my memories are not clear on dates, etc. I was around 7-8 years old and was the youngest in a large family. The next youngest was a brother, my tormentor. He was 6-7 years older than me. He was always resentful and cruel to me, he had been “the baby” for a long time. Perhaps he was jealous, though he was always our Dad’s “golden-haired child”.”
With a few minor exceptions, this paragraph matches my own life story. My own story starts in the early 70s and my brother had my mother’s brown hair and brown eyes; however, my brother was very much my parent’s “golden child”. My brother was 7 ½ years older than me and like John’s story, my brother was my resentfully cruel jealous tormentor. My rapist brother was in charge of me and my oldest brother.
Though, unlike my story, John’s story does have a silver lining where he was able to find JUSTICE!
It is eerie how two people from completely different families, backgrounds, and countries can have such similarly sad childhoods. The characteristics of sibling sexual abuse are somewhat universal especially when it continues to go unnoticed by the parents and other adults with no early interventions to stop the abuse. The abusing sibling is given “free rein” to rule over the other sibling(s) as they see fit.
It is clear, John was able to take the ultimate act of letting go of the responsibility for the childhood sexual abuse. And with the help of justice system in his country, he was no longer taking responsible for or protecting the person who abused him, his brother, and his brother faced the consequences of his own actions. (The wording highlighted in bold is from step 3 of Survivors of Incest Anonymous, The 12 Steps and 12 Traditions. Literature is available at: http://www.siawso.org/Default.aspx?pageId=1633106 )