Ksenia’s Story

Writer, Entrepreneur, Incest Survivor – working through it after 20+ years of amnesia


I have been on and off this decision to go public about my ordeal. From suffering through this quietly, I have created a vacuum where I couldn’t breathe anymore. I have been finding hair-raising data and wanted to share it with the world, as well as the horror of all of my own experiences and the society’s reaction to each of them – so that I can help others.
On my birthday, February 6th, I finally gathered the courage to do it – to be reborn as new. And here is my dream – I hope that one day this blog will be extinct. I hope that one day we won’t need what I’m doing, because we won’t have a problem of children’s sexual abuse anymore. You might call me unrealistic and a dreamer, and you will be right, I am, but life doesn’t make sense to me otherwise – this is my life’s mission now.


Several days prior to my birthday, February 6th, I started feeling anxious again. From dealing with this in the past, I knew a memory was coming, and it was tied to a date. I couldn’t believe until the last moment that it was my birthday, he did it on my birthday… Now there was no need to wonder why I could never remember any of my birthday celebrations – they were all blocked because of THAT one.
Each night the week before my birthday I slept less and less, until I couldn’t sleep at all and had to go to a friend’s house because I couldn’t be in my own bed. My husband understood. After 11 years of living together, over the last year I slowly realized that I had projected the image of my father onto him. So on my birthday, I decided to go public about being an incest victim, to be reborn anew. My little sister responded by publicly declaring me insane. And it made me mad.
This disbelief was so infuriating that on the day after my birthday I picked up the phone and dialed my father’s long-distance Russian number:

Ring, ring. He picks up the phone. My heart jumps out of my chest.
“Hello,” I say.
Silence. My palms go cold.
“Hello, dad, this is Ksenia.”
“What?” He asks abruptly.
I shake all over. “I remembered everything,” I say.
“Yes,” he says, somewhat distant, detached.
“I remembered who raped me.”
“It was you.”
“Yes, yes,” he says with irritation.
“How could you do it?”
“Well, I’m glad to hear it. Best wishes to you. Farewell.”
Click. He dropped the phone.
“Goodbye,” I say into the receiver, now dead.

I didn’t know what to make of this – did he admit to everything, or was he talking to me like to a mad woman, agreeing with everything so she doesn’t get agitated? I was angry. I didn’t say all the foul words that I prepped for this, I couldn’t. I spoke softly. Argghh.
But later, a weight lifted off my chest. I no longer carried this problem, it was his to bear. I had freed myself. I did it. I was reborn.


The morning after I spoke to my father, I dialed my step-mom – the one who always called me to wish Happy Birthday, the one who sent me gifts, the one who took me into her family with open arms, when my maternal grandmother insisted (or so the family story goes – each member of the family tells me a different version) to take me in, 11 years old at the time, to go with them to Germany (from Russia, which was big deal at the time). My father’s goal was to take me out of my mom’s toxic and poor household, and give me proper education, both social and academic. My parents divorced when I was 4 ½, and I lived with my mom, aunt, little half-sister, cousin, grandma, great grandma, 4 dogs, a rat, and a hedgehog (the exact number and type of animals always varied) – all crammed into one 3 bedroom apartment. Not a healthy environment to live in. And, as I was told my entire life, my mother was crazy, and so I had a genetic predisposition to become crazy as well – my father was going to “bend” me the other way, make a proper human being out of me. Thus I went to Berlin, Germany, to live with him, his new wife (my step-mom), and his daughter – my other little half-sister, 5 years old at the time (I have two – one on mom’s side and one on dad’s side, they’re 1 year apart).

As my step-mom later recalled, I was “weird” – I stole food and hid it under my pillow, I stole letters addressed to her (can’t remember that one – maybe I pretended that they were addressed to me?), I was cold and unemotional, like a wild animal, and I had no social skills. My father, on the first day we arrived in Germany, cornered me and instructed: “You will call her MOTHER.” His look said it all, and I didn’t dare disobey. I loved my step-mother – she cooked me breakfasts, she bought me clothes, she was there, unlike my biological mother, who was never there – my grandmother and great grandmother practically raised me. My mom was always fleeing home, I didn’t yet know why (I do know now, but more on that later).

When I called my step-mother, she was very cold on the phone. I didn’t understand why, I said: “Mom, I called father. I told him.” She said yes, she knows that, because my half-sister, her husband, and my father’s current wife were all there when I called (he’s gone through four wives – one before my mother, which he denies, then – my mother, then – my step-mother, and now the fourth wife – all with the same first name). She said what I’m talking about can’t be real, and never will be real, and that she is not ready to talk about it, that she loves me, but can only talk to me about good things – like art, books, and the like. So that was that then – my half-sister publicly declared me mad, and now my step-mom – the one whom I called mom, was turning away from me too.

I know I’m not mad, and neither is my biological mother. After having lost contact with her for 4 years, I found her, on my trip back to Russia, in November 2009 – she is not crazy, she is a survivor herself. She has very little touch with reality, and here is why – she slept with her grandfather in the same bed until she was 12, and was beaten till bloody by her mother and grandmother. Yet she survived, without an army of therapists and a supportive husband (like I have), without the luxury of having enough money for food, clothes, or roof over her head, suffering from ADD, bipolar, and a host of other disorders (I think so, based on the books I have read and on my own diagnosis of ADD and PTSD). She was 18 when she married my 35 year old father. There was love, but he also bullied her, tried to make her to suit his needs, told her that women are made to carry water on their backs, demanded sex from her 3 times a day or more, even when she had bladder infection and peed blood. When I was born, she simply didn’t know what to do with me. She was mostly absent from my life, leaving me with grandmas me at home and disappearing for weeks. And yet in the fleeting moments when she showed up, she showed me beauty – by teaching me how to knit when I was 5, cooking me exquisite meals (mild quark with grated dark chocolate on top – instead of chicken and potatoes to make me full, although it tasted heavenly), and drawing with me. If not for this appreciation of beauty, I think I would have never had the will to survive, to be as stubborn as I am, to persevere.

Neither of my mothers protected me from my father, and I was mad at both of them for that, but I forgive them both. And I love them both, no matter how different they are. I just wish my step-mother wouldn’t push me away like she did – but my biological mom calls me every three days to see how I am, and I have never had that in my life before. The scale has shifted, while one half of the family has ostracized me – the other suddenly loves me. Well, it always has – I just never saw it.

Love can heal anything.


Every day I wake up and I ask myself – is everything that I remembered real? It just can’t be. No, anybody else, but not my father.

Every day, I ask my husband, who is a geek and a software programmer with a very logical mind: “You’ve seen most of my panic attacks, you’ve listened to the pieces of incident as I’ve been uncovering them from my memory. Are they real? Is there a chance I could just somehow fabricate this all in my mind? Am I crazy?” And every day, he gives me a hug and says: “No, you’re not crazy, and from what I’ve seen, it’s all real, it’s just very hard to accept it.”

Every day I have moments of doubt when I remember the good stuff – my father reading books to me, playing with me and my sister in the grass, dropping me off at the airport just this past November – can the bad stuff be true? How can it be true? It just can’t be.

Every time when I remember yet another incident of abuse, my memory scares me. The accuracy of the details that I have had no recollection of. Like this one. I tell my husband:

“It was 8th of May when my father picked me up for the holidays.”

“But,” my husband says, “you’re wrong, it’s 9th of May, that’s when the World War 2 Victory is celebrated in Russia.”

He goes to look it up online, asks me how old I was.


We look up the calendar together – 8th of May that year was a Sunday. Father picked me up on Sundays because in Russia at the time people worked (and kids went to school) 6 days a week – except Sunday. I go cold inside. I don’t want to believe it, yet here it is. How much more proof do I need? I don’t know, but every day, every single day, I keep looking for that crack, for the chance that maybe all of this didn’t happen, maybe I just somehow made it all up, maybe I really am crazy. And yet, I know I’m not.

I know the pain that I’ve experienced during numerous panic attacks was real, I know the images I remembered – like the exact pattern of beige fake leather in his car, or the pattern of the green bed cover – are all real. I’ve asked everyone I could in my family about every single detail – in hopes that when I asked if his car was white, the answer would be blue; when I asked if my coat was brown with pom-poms, the answer would be I had no coat like that; when I asked why I remembered the sticky covering of the ambulance seat, the answer would be I imagined it and there were never hospitalizations for severe diarrhea.

I hope to wake up every day in the different world, and yet I know it’s impossible. It’s all real, it was there, and it happened to me. I used to read news about sexual abuse, and I felt horrible when I read about incest in particular. I thought: “THIS could never happen to ME”. Yet it did. And I have to accept it. I’m still learning, every day, how to do it.

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