Sibling Sexual Violence Collage

SSA Collage

There are 34 specific images in this collage.  Each one holds a specific meaning for me.  Some of the meanings are easy to interpret while others hold a much deeper psychological meaning for me.  The following, starting from top left to bottom right, is a key to each image and what they mean to me:

  1. “Big Brother is Watching You” sign = literally means that my brother was my baby sitter and whether he was my sitter or not his eyes were on me in sexual and also in very critical ways.
  2. Little girl plays with the doll while the big brother is standing by = used to show the obvious power and size difference between me and my brother.  What he did to me was NOT child’s play!
  3. Big Brother (Green) and Little Sister (Orange) = simply pointing out the two main siblings in conflict.  The color green used for the big brother does actually imply that my brother was actually “green” with envy of me.  There is a conversation bubble coming from the big brother stating “She’s the baby – everybody spoils her”.  This was an actual statement I was told numerous times by my brother growing up (especially before and after he raped me); he made sure that I would not receive any indulgence from him.  If I was spoiled as a child, it was not through indulgence but through complete neglect; like how food goes bad in the refrigerator.
  4. “No Whining” with a red circle slash = literally means that whining or complaints were not allowed in my household.  Whining or complaints were either ignored or yelled at or punished by brothers or parents.
  5. Silhouette of a girl sitting in a dark isolated hallway = this is a clear reflection of the depression and isolation that is left in the wake of CSA.  The abuse may not be happening anymore for the feelings and memories linger.
  6. “Hands On” with blue hand prints = literally translates that the abuser had physical sexual contact with the victim which only adds to the trauma left behind.
  7. Ostrich with his head in the sand = Illustrates another metaphorical idiom for an obvious truth ignored and remains unaddressed. The expression also applies to an obvious problem or risk no one wants to discuss. People still pretend and choose to avoid dealing with the looming big issue.  This is a common reaction by the family and community when dealing with sibling sexual violence.  Also, as said before, visible signs of child sexual abuse are rare but when physical signs are demonstrated and ignored, then an obvious truth is ignored and remains unaddressed.
  8. “Cry Baby” with a tear and a black circle slash = like most dysfunctional families crying was put down and silenced however for me this symbol goes beyond this simple meaning.  I could be easily brought to tears because I was almost constantly teased by my brothers.  My brother’s made a tape recording of their favorite taunt “PAU-LA IS A BAB-Y … he HE he HE he HE he” chanted repeatedly to me over and over again with me crying in the background asking this to “Stop it”.  They would then play this tape recording to me repeatedly to me and laugh at my hysterical sobbing response.  This must have gone on for months before my parents accidentally found this recording and my brothers got in trouble.  Of course there was sexually abusive retaliation on the part of one of my brothers towards me.  I believe this conditioning is one of the ways that at least one of my brother, the main abuser, used to keep me “in line” and quiet.  This also points out why parents need to supervise their kids better and not assume that your older children make great role models and/or baby sitters for their younger siblings.
  9. “LEAVE ME ALONE!” with stick figure screaming in anger = The amount of abuse I endured was over whelming and unfortunately this was something I rarely shouted at home due to the amount of fear I had for my main abuser brother and my parent’s on going emotional  and alcohol abuse.  However, I did occasionally scream this at school which placed me as a target of taunts and ridicule from other kids that did not understand my strange outbursts.  At the time, I did not understand myself why I had these outbursts either so that only made things worse.  I just seemed to be overly sensitive and could easily be brought to tears when I was not busy being spaced out or day dreaming.  Things did get somewhat easier for me after the main abuser brother moved out of the house but it seemed like I was always trying to catch up to knowledge other kids already had.
  10. Blood droplets in a clear pool of water = this image represents images that I still carry with me of blood that occurred after being raped the first time by my 2nd oldest brother.  At 7 years old, this was extremely frightening for me to see blood running down my leg into my shoe and droplets falling into the toilet bowl and into the bath tub.  At 7, I had no frame of reference for why this was happening.  I do remember my feelings alternated from very numb (having no feelings attached to the moment) to embarrassment to fear to confusion.
  11. Shadowy hands reaching up towards a girls bare feet revealing the bottom of her nightgown = this image represents my deep psychological fear of the “hand people” that lived under my bed and in my nightmares.  I talk about them in my Paula Brave story but this was an actual fear that plagued my childhood.
  12. Girl slumped over in a crotched position hiding her face as a shadowy figure comes up behind her = I can’t begin to tell you how many times I sat in this position as a child.  It seemed like my brother/brothers came out of nowhere.
  13. Game of Jacks photo = Many times sibling sexual abuse is compared to child’s play and not taken seriously by the family and the community.  Sibling sexual abuse is now being found to be one of the more common forms of child abuse with impact similar to any other form of childhood sexual abuse.
  14. Girl hiding behind a table, lamp, and chair = I became very good at hiding.  If my brother/s could not find me then I could not be abused.  The fear on the girl’s face reminded me of fear that I have experienced in my hiding places.
  15. Girl wearing a dunce cap holding a book in front of her mouth embarrassed in front of her classmates = I never had to where a dunce cap but I have felt the humiliation and embarrassment of being the kid in lowest reading and math group and being pulled out of class for “special testing”.  It was not unusual for me to cry because some kid figured out that It was easy to bring me to tears by making fun of my slow reading or awkwardness or my out of fashion clothing.
  16. 6 phrases/questions on a red background with conversation bubbles :
    1. “What will my friends say?”  = A frequent and sometimes justified worry.  Other kids do not want to deal with a friend with too many psychological problems nor do they know what to say when those problems are attributed to child sexual abuse.
    2. “Who do I speak with?”  = A frequent concern when I was growing up because most adults in my life could not be trusted to really help me especially when my experiences were similar to their own and the main stream accepted thought was that this is just something that kids have to endure and “get over it”.  The adults in my life used alcohol and domestic violence to “get over it”.
    3. “What will people think?”  = A frequent phrased used to shame the victim of abuse into silence.
    4. “I was abused.”  = This phrase comes with many social stigmas.
    5. “Who will trust me?”  = It was difficult for me to believe myself much less that others will be able to believe me.
    6. “Should we report it?” = An argument that I overheard my parents going through before they took me to the ER.  When the hospital ER staff could not recognize child sexual abuse this was the ultimate ignorance to an obvious truth that my abusive brother needed to continue raping me.
  17. Man and Woman arguing while pointing fingers at each other = this reference is to my parents that would rather point fingers at each other for why this happened instead of protecting their children.
  18. Stick figures of a family on shattered glass = Sibling sexual violence does shatter the family.
  19. “Shame on You” with a finger pointing back at you = The shame tends to fall back on the victim of sibling sexual violence since they have the smallest voice and no one else wants to be held accountable.
  20. “Little Sister” with sketch of a smiley faced big brother holding his smiley faced little sister up = I lost my relationships with my brothers and there is no way to reclaim that innocence.
  21. Sketch of an angry person standing with clinched fists = this person could represent anyone in my family including myself.  I normally think of my mother when I see this picture because she was normally angry when I was growing up and I tried to avoid her for this reason.  She was extremely angry towards me when she found out about the sibling sexual abuse in my journals when I was 16.
  22.  Sketch of a person sitting holding knees to chest with a lost expression = A place I have visited often in my life.
  23. Red Blood Droplet = another reference to the blood from the first rape.
  24. “Get your hands off of me” on a thumb print = bruises left on my body from the rape.
  25. Sketch of a small girl hiding her mouth behind her hands = I had no voice.
  26. 70s alcohol/cocktail ad showing adults having fun at a gathering = The adults in my life seemed to be more concerned and consumed with drinking and going to parties/social events then with supervising their own children.
  27. Girl in crouching position in corner hiding her face in her chest with another person’s fist hovering over her = the threat I felt over me if I tell, as well as, the extreme fear I felt.
  28. Sketch of a girl huddled in a corner hiding in covers trying to hide her fearful face with her hands = another example of the extreme fear I felt and continued helplessness.
  29. Simple outline of a younger girl with blood on her dress, running down her legs, on her shoes, and pooling below her feet = another visual example of the blood from the first rape.
  30. “It’s not “sex”. Its RAPE” sign = This statement says it all!  Don’t let anyone ever convince you different.
  31. “Incest.  When you are ready to root-out THE problem” with sketch of a tree listing various problems that stem from incest (from Survivors of Incest Anonymous) = Excellent diagram of all the problems that are a direct result of incest.
  32. “SHHH …” Female with finger to mouth = another example of being without a voice.
  33. “Family Tree” Sketch = sibling sexual violence (SSV) involves the entire family.  SSV is the result, NOT the cause of a dysfunctional family.  Families when confronted with the truth of SSV will try to convince you that if there was no SSV then the family would be well.  This is not the case.  It is the extreme family dysfunction that brings about sad results like SSV.
  34. Woman sweeping dirt under the rug = SSV cannot be swept under the rug.  It will show itself weather the family members choice to deal with it or not.  Bringing SSV into the open and dealing with it directly is the only way that I am aware of to help all family members involved, especially protection of the victim, as well as, future generations.
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