After incest: Saskia, a long journey of resilience

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From the ages of 7 to 12, Saskia Lecocq was subjected to incest by her father, who is now deceased. For Aleteia, she describes these painful years in an edifying testimony from which hope and forgiveness flowed triumphantly.

Saskia is 30 years old. This young woman with clear eyes experienced the drama of a childhood shattered by incest. This mother of several children, “two on earth and two in heaven” left the Paris region to settle with her husband, Louis, “a wonderful man”, in the Var, where she is a photographer. On the phone, she introduces herself: “I am Catholic. Not forever, but long enough not to let my faith be shaken.” 

Incest, every night, in secret

As a child, Saskia grew up in the Paris region, with her older brother, her father and an often absent mother who worked day and night to pay off her husband’s debts. His father, already physically violent, an alcoholic and a proven narcissist, has always been monitored at Sainte-Anne hospital for a recognized bipolar disorder. When she marries him, Saskia’s mother ignores all this.

Saskia is 7 years old when her family moves to a bigger house: the little girl, who until then shared her brother’s room, thinks she is dreaming. Very quickly, however, the dream turns into a nightmare when the incest begins. “Every evening, from the age of 7 to 12, occasional physical violence transformed into daily sexual violence. At first, I didn’t understand what was happening, my father told me that this was how dads loved their little girls and that I was lucky. Despite her father’s explanations, she senses that something is wrong. One evening, she begged him: “Daddy, you love me too much, it hurts how much you love me.” Then, very quickly, the threats arrive, when Saskia starts asking questions. She sees clearly, then, that things don’t happen like they do at home. However, her friends’ dads also seem to love their daughter. “He told me it was my fault, that I had upset him if I had worn a dress. But at 8 years old, a little girl doesn’t bother anyone, especially not her dad.” Very quickly, silence forces Saskia to carry the family unit on her childish shoulders, when her father accuses her: if she speaks, then the family will destroy itself and she will be the only one responsible.

My father told me that this was how dads loved their little girls, and I remember saying to him one evening: “Daddy, you love me too much, it hurts the way you love me.”

On Sundays, Saskia goes to mass with her mother and her older brother, who, at the age of 5, requested baptism. Too young to be baptized with the catechumens, too old to receive the sacrament with the children, the parish priest asked him to wait until he was 9 and go to mass every Sunday to prepare his soul. Saskia accompanies him, while their father, who dabbles in the occult, refuses to come with them. Since she was little, she has known that God exists, this “almighty God, who loves her”, as her mother always told her. “I never doubted his existence, but for me, he was up, very far away and I was down,” she explains. To follow her brother, she joined the scouts of Europe, which she did not leave until twenty years later: a “safeguard” in the abyss of her distress. At 9 years old, with the soul of a child, she asked for baptism, less out of conviction than to imitate her elder who received gifts for his.

“When the sexual abuse started, I begged God to protect me. I shouted to him: ‘Come and save me now.’ But nothing happened and it started again every evening. The evening of my baptism, having in mind that I had been renewed by the sacrament, I said no to my father, explaining to him that he had no right to dirty me, but that didn’t change anything. “. In anger, Saskia tears off her cross and screams at God that he does not exist. That evening, she cried her eyes out and fell asleep on the floor from exhaustion. For five years, the little girl suffered her father’s touching every evening, until the day she simulated her first period by cutting herself with a piece of glass. “It was my last hope to put an end to all this: a year earlier, I had called 119, the emergency number for abused children, but they thought it was a hoax.” Humiliated, the young girl tells herself that no adult will ever help her.

From despair to hope

When, at the age of 16, her parents separated, Saskia was devastated. She, who had kept silent under her father’s threats to preserve family unity, is devastated. The young girl then goes through a difficult adolescence. Damaged in her femininity, she strives to look as little like a girl as possible. She doesn’t take care of herself and suffers cruel harassment from her classmates. Her irrepressible – vital – need to be loved leads her, as a young woman, to lose herself in the arms of the men she meets at night in bars. With them, she forgets for a moment the pain that tears her apart, only to find it again when the day dawns. “I’ve been looking for love all my life, I’ve been looking for it, but badly. I gave myself wholeheartedly to men much older than me, and I went so far as to get paid for it.” She hates her female body, because she is a woman. Since the first evening, one idea has never left her: if she had been born a man, none of this would have happened to her.

Passionate about theater and the stage, as if to hide in the roles she plays to escape from herself, Saskia joins a prestigious drama school. As a student, the young woman lost herself in alcohol, a lot, and drugs, a little, to forget. “I went out from Sunday to Sunday, until I got kicked out of my establishment.” She hits rock bottom: without theater, she is nothing and her life no longer has any meaning. “I was 22 and I wanted to die.” Saskia makes the decision to end her life. Although she has already tried to take her own life several times, a thought stops her. She can’t kill someone she doesn’t know: “I had no idea who I really was.” To find herself, then to put an end to it, she leaves for Ireland with this certainty that she gets from her years in the Scouts of Europe, that, in nature, one cannot cheat. “After a few days,” she remembers, “I cried out to God, I accused Him, and then I felt immense peace. For the first time in my life, I felt small, but not crushed, and I came home with the certainty that life was worth living.”

My life no longer had meaning. I was 22 and I wanted to die, but I felt like I couldn’t kill someone I didn’t know and I had no idea who I really was.

“Forgiveness is possible, but it is a grace”

Saskia knows she is saved, but it takes several months for her to recover and change her life. It was in Paray-le-Monial, taken somewhat by chance by a friend, that she had the sensitive and moving experience of God’s love. Restored, she finds a unity of life that she had never known and, little by little, returns to God by rejecting her demons. In the choir where she sings, she meets Louis, who becomes her best friend. For the first time, she opens up without hiding anything about her miseries. Louis knows everything about her. Little by little, the friendship transforms: Saskia is in love. Impossible, for her, that Louis shares her feelings and could love her even in her past and the life she led. When the young man declares himself, she bursts into tears. The lovers get engaged.

Having become a wife and mother, Saskia no longer hesitates to bear witness to the hell she went through. “I will be ready to relive everything I have experienced, because I am happy to be the woman I have become, even if we never really heal. I am obviously deeply affected by everything I have gone through and it is debilitating in my daily life, but I have worked on myself to manage to talk about it in a peaceful way today, to help others.” With devastating certainty, Saskia sighs: “I didn’t get up on my own, it was the good Lord who saved me. He pulled me out of the waters.” 

As for forgiveness? “It’s possible, but it’s a blessing,” says Saskia. “I ended up recognizing that my father was more valuable than the actions he did and that he was loved by God. Until his death, and even now, I never stopped praying for him. My great hope is to truly discover who my father is in heaven. I am certain that we will recognize ourselves there, in truth: we celebrated so many masses for him that I cannot imagine not finding him one day. On earth we can cheat, but I can’t wait to take him in my arms and discover him in his dignity as a child of God, finally restored from his sin. 

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