Jeanne finally talks about the prolonged sexual abuse she suffered from her grandfather, who lived on the family property. She takes us inside her journey, what is was like to continue living with her abuser and why she is speaking about this now. [DISCLAIMER] This is not for sensitive audiences, or those who may experience triggers. Please listen responsibly.
[DISCLAIMER] This is not for sensitive audiences, or those who may experience triggers. Please listen responsibly.
Jeanne finally talks about the prolonged sexual abuse she suffered from her grandfather, who lived on the family property. She takes us inside her journey, what is was like to continue living with her abuser, the impact it still has on her life, how it impacts her parenting, and why she is speaking about this now.
Episode Key Moments
03:00 Why this episode is being released now?
04:50 What was the history and background that led to the "perfect predator opportunity"
06:18 Jeanne's relationship with her grandfather explained.
07:28 The day it all changed.
10:00 Why the abuse continued.
11:20 How this impacted Jeanne's childhood and relationships with her peers.
14:08 How it starting impacting Jeanne's extra mural achievements and personality.
18:30 The day Jeanne "told"
22:00 Jeanne's final words and moments with her grandfather
24:00 How her abuse impacted her first romantic encounter.
25:30 Jeanne's difficulties post-partum and in raising her daughter.
Jeanne Retief: Blog | Podcast | Instagram | FIGGI Beauty Shop
Episode Links: Dr. Dana Anderson Episode
[00:00:00.000] - Jeanne
The My FIGGI Life podcast is free to all of our listeners. It's not sponsored, and I would like to try to keep advertorials out of our episodes. It helps me so much when you support this podcast by sharing it with a friend who may need to hear some of these episodes or who may benefit from it. But mostly, it helps us so much if you rate and review this podcast on Apple podcasts or other platforms. Thank you so much for your support, FIGGI Goddess. Hello, my FIGGI Goddess, and welcome to another episode of the My FIGGI Life podcast. This is going to be a difficult one. If you have past trauma that could be triggered, I would suggest that you approach this episode with caution. This is definitely not for young listeners, so please just keep that in mind. Today, I'm going to talk about my story, my sexual abuse story, how that came about, and just take you through this journey in my life so that you know you're not alone. There are others that have gone through this and this is a safe space for you to find some solace and hopefully just some kinship.
[00:01:29.170] - Intro
Welcome, goddess, to your sacred space. This is My FIGGI Life podcast, where we openly discuss life's wins and losses on our journeys to self-discovery. This is your best life. This is your FIGGI life. And now here is your host, Jeanne.
[00:01:48.270] - Jeanne
Here we are talking about this really difficult subject. A couple of things before we start. I had not planned on doing this episode for a while. Honestly, I've been putting off this episode. Oh, my gosh, I've been putting off this episode a lot. But I have recently been so lucky and so blessed to have been invited onto some other podcasts as a guest. Beautiful podcasts with amazing hosts that have such incredible stories of survival and just the beauty of how life can unfold in the most amazing ways. And in times when you think it is so impossible. And it has inspired me so much. And I am so happy to have met all of these beautiful people. And I'm going to for sure link all of their podcasts below. But during one of these podcasts, it came up and the point of the podcast was to talk about my history and how I got into Figgi and what led to my panic disorder.
[00:02:58.810] - Jeanne
And this was the first time that I had really publicly spoken about my sexual abuse history. I think I had maybe referred to it here and there really broadly up until now. I've been getting a lot of comments and questions and a lot of support in asking me to share my story. As I said, I was really super reluctant to do this. It's a really hard episode for me to form. And what made me decide to do it now was just the understanding that I really, I'm not alone. And this is the reason why I created FIGGI to be a sacred space for other women like me that I've struggled, excuse me, achieved and that continue to just seek this professional and personal purpose. And if I am calling out other goddesses to not be okay and to share and to feel like this is a safe space for them, then I need to live up to that part of the bargain as well. So you know how they always say that abuse is always perpetrated by somebody closest to you, who you love, who you trust the most. I will link to a podcast episode here on my field life as well with Dr. Dana Anderson, a forensic psychologist, a forensic psychiatrist, excuse me, and she spoke about this. And the one thing that she said that was so true is we always have this idea in our mind of this creepy, scary, bogeyman type of pedophile persona, but it's usually not. It's the people we know. It's the people we trust, it's the people we love. And then there are these circumstances that lead to this manipulative opportunists just having this perfect opening to perpetrate these types of acts. My history was really that we were living in the same yard as my grandparents. We had moved into essentially their house and built a granny flat for them in the backyard. It was probably like 100 meters, maybe 150 meters, our front doors from each other. It was like a straight walk across the lawn. There were no additional, at that time, fencing or walls or anything put up between our two houses. It was the shared property. And we could literally out of our window and see their front door and see them through their kitchen window. And this was the relationship that we had. My grandmother worked full-time. At that stage, she was still working full-time.
[00:05:43.940] - Jeanne
And my mom worked full-time. My dad was doing his best to provide for us, and he also, he was working away at that time. That left me alone with my retired grandfather most of the day because he was responsible, or not responsible, but offered to drive me to and from school to my extramural activities, my ballet, my netball, whatever it was that was going on after school. So yeah, I was the perfect victim, and this was the perfect opportunity. What was so difficult for me is the fact that I honestly really loved him and looked up to him. He was the perfect grandpa. I mean, he was the you would see in movies and read about in books. You know, the one that takes your side when you're in trouble with your parents or that gives you candy secretly when you're not really supposed to be having dessert before dinner that is willing to drive you to your friend's house for a sleepover and that comes to pick you up from school. And that says, no, it's okay. Let her do this extra, extra mural activities. Let her take ballet. Let her do this. I'll drive her.
[00:06:58.440] - Jeanne
I'll go fetch her. I'll pick her up. So he really was this really amazing grandfather and this grandpa figure. We used to make a lot of jokes together. We used to have so many things that we could converse about. I used to spend so much time at their house because they had satellite TV at that stage, and we did not. Just a plethora of cartoons that I was able to watch was just so addictive and so wonderful. And then one day that just completely changed. We were alone, and he just took advantage of this situation. I was really small. It started when I was nine years old, and I just had absolutely no concept or understanding of what was happening to me. I had such a sense of shame and confusion. And my entire life, I had always been this type of person that worked so hard to do well, to be the good student, to study really hard, to hand in my assignments on time, to be the good child that is a naughty and doesn't do naughty things. And all of a sudden, I felt like I had done the most horrible thing in my life.
[00:08:20.430] - Jeanne
I felt so guilty, and I felt like I was going to be in so much trouble. I had gone from being this version of a perfect, we call it in Afrikaans. That's the person that always studies, always puts your assignments in on time, always has that exam calendars that you put together. They're never late. They're always on time. And that all changed. That all changed for me in the span of really one afternoon. Unfortunately, I was just at the age and stage where I really, as I said, I had no concept of what was happening to me, so I didn't tell. This was, I think, the most perfect opportunity for him because not only was I always, even before this, this extremely scared of everything, anxious little child that always, without a fault, apologizes for everything. Now I was this type of child that this is being done to, I'm obviously feeling a lot of different emotions, a lot of confusion, a lot of guilt, a lot of anxiety, because I didn't want anybody to find out. I didn't want anybody to know because in my mind, I had done something wrong and I was going to be punished for it because I didn't exactly know what I had done wrong, but I had this feeling that whatever was happening was not right.
[00:09:57.990] - Jeanne
Because I didn't tell and because I was already this anxious type of personality, because it was so clear that I wasn't going to tell and that I was scared to tell, and because I was a child and there were things I wanted to do, like I wanted to take ballet lessons. I wanted to go to a sleepover at my friend's house. And many times, because my parents were working, it wasn't always possible for me to be taxied from the one place to the next. And this was the the next even more perfect opportunity for him, because now there was this quid pro quo between us, where it would be like, Oh, I'll take you. You can do this activity. I'll do it for you. Don't worry. But there's going to be payment for this afterwards. It took me so long to build up the courage to finally say something. And to this day, I really regret that, even knowing that I was a child and I couldn't have possibly known better and possibly have done this differently. But this started when I was nine years old. It continued every single day, except for weekends, because then I wasn't there alone.
[00:11:09.080] - Jeanne
Until I was about 11 or 12, I cannot say for sure because I think my memory gets so hazy because there is a lot that I wish that I didn't remember and that I think I actively try not to remember. The thing that's the worst for me is just how it impacted my life as a child. I really had difficulty in building relationships and making friends in school. I was always so different. I felt like I went to school every day and I was surrounded by these children that were children. And that frustrated and irritated me to the severest of degrees because it felt like I was stuck in this nine-year-old body, but I had these experiences and this soul of so much older person, and it made it really difficult for me to connect with other children of my age. And because that was so difficult, I portrayed that in sometimes really bad ways, seeking attention in ways that I shouldn't have, being very shy and withdrawn, not doing a lot from my side to try and cultivate friendships. And also, I think people around me didn't know what was going on because I wasn't saying anything.
[00:12:24.610] - Jeanne
So it just looked like I wasn't interested in doing child-like things or playing with other kids. And it seemed like I was just this really snobby, uptight little girl that knew better and thought I was better than everybody else. I think that's how it may have come across. But inside, I was dealing with all of these really weird emotions and this shame and this guilt. And I had so much, I think, also anger inside of me because I remember I used to go to the school gate when the school would let out, and I would have such envy and just anger and jealousy towards my friends that I saw hop in the back of their mom's cars with these ready-made sandwiches and these happy little faces. And I knew what was waiting for me at home when I would leave school. And I would still need to deal with my homework and studying. And it was so difficult to go back to a place of just being a normal kid and going back to do your daily routine and finish that after, let's call them sessions. These sessions took place every afternoon because you're in such a state of confusion, and every single day you're reliving all of these emotions, and you just don't know what to do with them or how to deal with them.
[00:13:55.160] - Jeanne
And it started manifesting in other ways like people started commenting about my behavior and my personality and how I was dealing with things. And I remember, for example, my family was amazing at arts and drama. So theater was a really, really big thing in my family, and we all loved it and excelled at it. And one of the things that I also did really well and love doing was not the debate team. I don't know what you would call that in English, but I actually lost my words for it now. You're not on a team that debates against another team. It's you, the individual that stands up with your speech and you choose a topic that you want to fight for or against and you deliver this speech. And I was really good at this. I used to win a lot. I used to take first place a lot. I used to go to the small provincial championships and things like that. And one year, I had been getting ready for this speech, and I was so nervous, and I was practicing for it. And my grandpa came in and he was like, Well, before you go, you need to come and check...
[00:15:14.790] - Jeanne
I didn't do nothing in my house, and I just knew. I knew exactly what this meant for me. But I felt so trapped. What was I supposed to do? He's the adult, I'm the child. He's giving me an instruction. I am alone. I have nowhere else to go. I have nothing else to do. I have no way of counteracting this. And again, let's refer to it as a session, took place. And after I went to my competition, and I did so badly, I stumbled over my words. I forgot half of my points, my key points that I was supposed to make. And it was so out of character for me. And I remember going home, my mom was so confused because I was so angry. And I was so angry and I was so disappointed and I was so upset that it actually got to a point where she had to tell me, Listen, this is not okay. You cannot have this bad sportsmanship. You lost, you made a mistake. That's it. Come on, get over it. But I couldn't tell her. I couldn't tell her, Yeah, but I didn't lose. I didn't mess this up.
[00:16:31.170] - Jeanne
I was prepared. He messed it up. He made this happen because I was so confused and I was so traumatized going into this. And I think a big part of that is there is so much shame that goes into this. And literally just before I was picked up to go and compete in this competition where you have to stand in front of so many people and do your speech and say your say, so now I have all of this guilt and shame. And it just felt like that evening when I was standing up to do my speech, it felt like everybody knew. It felt like I had this huge sign on my forehead. And what made it worse is my grandpa was the children's grandpa. Everybody knew him. Everybody knew he was my grandpa, and he was like the silly grandpa that run the talk shop at the school. So it would make it even harder to believe. I would say this continued probably for two or three years-ish every single day. And I don't know what changed. I cannot pinpoint it. I cannot put my finger on it. But one day, he came into the house again, and he said he had bought my favorite ice cream and I said, I don't want it.
[00:17:49.960] - Jeanne
I'm sorry, but I don't want. I'm not hungry or I don't feel like it. And he got really, really angry. I kept saying no, saying no. He got really angry and I felt I had to go with him. There was really nothing else that I could do. At this point, he had started getting bolder. He was doing this even over weekends with other people being on the property. I think he had gotten complacent in what he was doing and maybe even felt some weird pride in it that he could do this and nobody could see or nobody could know or nobody could suspect it. Something in the fact that it happened that day with other people on the property just gave me the... Sorry. The bravery I needed to just say no. I don't know how I did it because I was always so scared and so afraid. In the middle of it all, something in me just snapped and I just got up. I remember I was just absolutely tearing and plucking on my clothes, and I just burst out the door. I remember I was shaking so badly and I was crying, but not crying.
[00:19:11.310] - Jeanne
It was almost like it was angry tears. And it felt to me, I don't know if that's what it looked like, but to me, it felt like I was marching, marching through the garden back to my house. And I thought to myself, I cannot go anywhere. I cannot go or right or to my bedroom because then I'm going to lose my will and my courage to do this. So I literally jumped up and away from him, and I had just rushed out of the door through the garden, marching along directly into the television room where my parents were. I don't know if that's how they perceived it, but this is how I felt it. I just slammed off the TV, and it just burst from my mouth. I didn't give any hint or like, I need to talk to you, and it just burst from me like, Listen, this has been happening. It's sad to me that it had taken me that long to say something. I feel so much regret for how that situation impacted my life. And there are so many moments where I can still remember it being such a big... I don't know if it's like a wooden cross to bear.
[00:20:24.400] - Jeanne
And there are so many instances where it makes it so difficult. And this is what it is, these abuse. They're so smart, they're so manipulative, they are such perfect, perfect opportunists. A lot of things took place after I told. I started saying things to him that I think he thought was inappropriate, like mentioning things that we had learned in sex ed at school, saying things like, This is my body, and I've learned that I need to respect my body. Andi was getting to an age where I was pre-teen teen, and as any teenagers do, you start to have questions about your body. This is probably the age where you at school, they're doing the sex ed classes, and they gave us these little booklets that we were supposed to read and to ask questions about, and this completely enraged him. The fact that I was able to learn about the sanctity of my own body and to not only be able to understand that what is happening is so clearly wrong, but that I was getting to a point where I was able to articulate this was just blinding to him. And I believe that is why he stopped.
[00:21:43.350] - Jeanne
But he lived with us for, I think, until he was 16, when he, one day in the day of night, just packed up, lived and disappeared. And I still have so many conflicting emotions about this. I am still dealing with being in a space where I'm trying to be angry. And I hope I can get there someday to just release this rage. But this is what they do. They are such manipulators. They manipulate your mind in such a way that you still feel like you're the guilty one. You still feel like you need to feel sorry for them in some way, or especially because he played this role of grandpa so perfectly and other things. I remember the night before he disappeared, we were sitting outside, and out of the blue, he just said to me, You must hate me. Just the deep sadness and confusion I felt with that statement. I remember looking at him and saying to him, I don't hate you. This continued to have so many repercussions for me. It perpetuated my anxiety disorder. I was always a very anxious child. I had many difficult relationships in my childhood years that led to a lot of anxiety.
[00:23:07.080] - Jeanne
This definitely increased it to a point of breaking. Just dealing with that in this age of your life where you're supposed to be so carefree and you're surrounded with friends and colleagues that are so carefree and you can't say anything because it's this big, shamefulful thing that happened to you. So you don't talk about it. You don't say it. I remember the first time I was ready to have a boyfriend in high school, and it was like your first big love. And it's so amazing and romantic. He was going to take me out on our first date. The morning of that he was supposed to come and fetch me, I had the most severe panic attack. I couldn't sleep that night. I was physically ill, physically ill. And I just phoned and said, and I was so mean. I was like, Yeah, I don't want to do this anymore. I don't want to go. And of course, him being a teenager thought like, Well, I'm not going to deal with this venous. I'm a carefree teenager. I'm not doing this. And there are other girls that I can take to the movies. And that was just completely devastating to me, devastating, because I liked him so much.
[00:24:29.840] - Jeanne
And there was just no way in hell that I could say, Listen, I'm literally too afraid to go with you because I'm afraid that if you so much as hold my hand, I'm going to wet my pants. And it just affects your life in so many ways. It affected me all throughout my university years. I went through many, many, many difficult trials and tribulations because of this. And it affected me a lot when I had kids. I did not have postpartum depression, but because of my anxiety disorder, I guess. And by that time I had already been diagnosed with a panic disorder. I had postpartum anxiety. And I had a really hard time dealing with the fact that I was bringing a child into this world, and I could not have complete control of what she did and where she went and who she spoke to and who looked after her and who touched her and who hugged her. And I really had to do a lot of work on myself and on my healing process to get to a good space where I raised a little girl in love and not in fear of absolutely everything around her.
[00:25:42.520] - Jeanne
As everybody and as each survivor will know, there is a lot more to this story that I do not feel ready to share at this moment. But this is, I'm sure you have as clear picture as you need. I just want to say that if you find yourself listening to this episode and feeling like you have some resemblance to this, or you find some kinship. In what I have shared, this is really why I'm trying to build this figure community. This is your space where it's okay not to be okay and where you don't always have to feel like you have to be brave or you have to say the right things to the right people, or you always have to be positive. You are not alone. If you're at the stage where you haven't had the courage or the opportunity to say something yet, or to do something about it, or to reach out for help, just know that there is help at the other side of this. It really, really sucks to walk through this storm, but you can't do it. You can't get out on the other side. If there is anything I can do to help you, please comment on the blog or send me an email.
[00:27:17.340] - Jeanne
You can find all of my contact details on figgi life. Com and just know that you are not alone. Please listen to the episodes with Dr. Dana Anderson. She gives such amazing advice of places that you can go to for help, how you can reach out for help, who you can call, invest in your own health and seek aid wherever you can. If you cannot afford a psychiatrist or a therapist or go to your church or your community close to you and ask for help from a counselor, phone a friend if you can, do what you can to to deal with this. And you use the resources that we put on figilife. Com and on the FIGGI podcast to help you get to a better space and and see the light. But for now, and if that's all that I can share, just know that there is... I'm actually referencing. I would like to call her a good friend of mine that I've made recently, and you should definitely check out her podcast, ZFG Living, Mel Trumble. And she said, There is a huge tribe of us. There are so many people that go through things like anxiety, disorders, and mental health.
[00:28:43.210] - Jeanne
Unfortunately, like Dr. Dana Anderson also said, it's a pandemic. It's a pandemic how many people have gone through this and have dealt with this sexual abuse. So just know you're not alone. Thank you so much for listening to this episode. I wish you love and light. I will see you again next time on the My FIGGI Life podcast. We kindly like to ask for your help, goddess. Thank you for this wonderful community that you support. We would like to keep the My FIGGI Life podcast free to all our listeners, accessible and without ads. The podcast is not funded, and we would love for you to share this podcast with your community or friends that you think may benefit. It really, really helps us. If you leave us a five-star review on Apple podcasts or other platforms where you listen to your podcasts. Thank you so much for your continued support. All my love from my heart to yours.