There are events in the early years of our lives that dramatically shape us into the kind of person that we become later. It could be something that happened or something you needed to happen that didn’t.
One in four women will be sexually assaulted during their life. One in seven of those women will have been under the age of six at the first time it happens to them.
I am one of those women. I am a statistic. And this is my story, or what I am able to tell of it without pissing off a lot of people.
I was 5 the first time I was sexually assaulted. It’s weird when I say that because my daughter is four and she is the most innocent angel in the world. Was I ever so precious and innocent? I don’t remember. All I’ve ever felt was dirty and vulnerable. And used. And uncomfortable.
I didn’t really know my uncle. I mean, he was around. But kind of in his rebellious young teen stage. We moved in with them when my parents were going through a divorce and on top of my world crumbling down around me in the aftermath of their failed marriage, I was about to be thrown into something I didn’t even know existed. A life of sexual abuse.
My parents had told me before, that if anyone ever touches me to tell them. I don’t know why I didn’t. It was just such bad timing. Everyone was always so upset and so mad, I didn’t want to make things worse.
I remember him telling me to touch it and I thought that was so gross, and weird. I had never seen a penis before so I didn’t even understand why men and women had different private parts. He brought me out of my room in the middle of the night and took me across the house to his room. He told me to leave his room if I wouldn’t touch it and so I left. I was really upset that he wouldn’t play with me and that wasn’t the last time he used my desperation for attention to try to get what he wanted.
There were so many times he did this that I can’t even name them all here.
When we moved out I never saw him again for years, I pushed it out of my head and just figured I wasn’t raped so what happened to me didn’t matter. I didn’t feel like I was traumatized or changed, so I just let it go.
He came back around when I was 11 or 12. With a girlfriend who shortly after became pregnant. I had always wanted a sister and she wasn’t too much older than me and I adored her. They moved in down the street from us and our family was getting closer. I remembered the things he did to me but he had never done it again so I thought it was ok.
We went to South Padre that summer. Me, him and his girlfriend (or maybe they were married by that time?) were out jumping over the waves. He was picking us up and throwing us and every time he would pick me up it felt like he was trying to put his hand under my bathing suit bottoms but I thought I was mistaken because surely he wouldn’t do that with her right there next to him. But then he picked me up and stuck his fingers inside me and threw me. I was a virgin and had never had that done to me, ever. I knew right then it wasn’t an accident. I just didn’t say a word and went to shore. They called after me but I just kept walking. How could he do that in front of everyone? With her literally holding onto his other side?
And then I went back and forth with myself telling myself it was an accident. I was wrong for making it seem like he was doing something wrong.
Things quickly spiraled downwards for him after that. I babysat a lot for them, I loved my baby cousin as if he was my own. I thought he was the most beautiful little boy, he never cried or made a huge fuss. He was perfect. I was so attached to him and my uncle fed off of that.
He taught me how to smoke meth, although I had no idea that’s what it was. He just wanted to show me, and asked if I wanted to try it but he was smoking it off of a piece of foil and it just seemed so weird.. plus at that point I didn’t trust him and I was learning how to smoothly talk my way out of sexual situations.
Isn’t that crazy? At 11 or 12 I was learning how to recognize sexual advances towards me and learning how to calmly deter them and get the focus on something else without alarming them.
I don’t know how many months the molestation went on. I just remember when it stopped. They invited me to a teen club, but I wanted to take a friend. There were these shorts he had sent me home with that he wanted me to wear for him but after the first time I took them home to hide them so that I never had to again. I called him to ask if I could take a friend to the club with us and he said I could if I wore the Mickey Mouse shorts.
I don’t buy my kids Mickey Mouse clothing and I don’t encourage them to watch the show, and I never put the two together until very recently that I had repressed trauma involving Mickey Mouse.
I remember telling him I really didn’t want to, and then my mom on the line suddenly yelling at me to hang up the phone. She came into my room and I cried on the floor. I just know I said how dirty I felt. That was the first time I ever cried about it. It was the first time I ever talked about it. I was so relieved that someone finally knew. I was embarrassed and ashamed and happy all at the same time.
He went to prison very shortly after for raping another woman. I never got my justice. He never served a single day for his crimes against me.
I do however believe in karma. He has been to prison at least 4 times now and is awaiting sentencing for more time currently.
Here’s where my story becomes different from the statistics..
He apologized to me. Face to face. I couldn’t look him in the eyes, but he said “I’m really sorry for what I did to you. I was on drugs and that wasn’t your fault. I shouldn’t have ever done that to you”
Something in me changed after that. I didn’t know I needed that apology but I did. I think that just having someone acknowledge that happened, having him admit that he did that and admit that he was wrong.
My whole life I blamed myself for what happened. The fights I had with myself in my head were never-ending.
I should have told someone
I should have pressed charges
Would anyone even believe me?
Will people say I wanted it?
Did he think I wanted it?
Why did I keep going around him?
I should have done something.
I’m not a victim. I’m not a survivor. I’m just me. For the most part I go through life as if this never happened. It’s buried in the far corner of my mind and I don’t let it out.
I didn’t think I would be able to write this. Every story I do I go back in time to these exact moments and I relive them.
I don’t know who this will help or how it will help. I just want someone out there to know that it isn’t their fault. I want you to know that the feelings you feel right now, I have felt them too. You aren’t dirty, they are. You’re still pure and you’re still innocent. You are still worthy.
And even if you never get justice, they’ll still pay for their crimes against you somehow.
I was sexually assaulted a handful of times by other men over the next years. I have had my drink laced and drug to the side of someone’s house, I don’t know what exactly happened I just remember there being two guys standing over me.
I have woken up to a man having sex with me while I was sleeping, a man I thought was a good friend. And when I very calmly told him that he has to be careful doing that because one day a woman may not be as understanding as me, he flipped out and blamed me and never spoke to me again.
I’ve had all kinds of guys hands end up under my clothes without permission.
And none of these times ever screwed my head up the way they would a normal woman. I think by this point I was so used to my body being used and touched without permission that I was numb to it.
Something I will always preach to my daughter is that she is in control. Not only of her body but of her life. She makes the decisions for herself and she should loudly voice what makes her uncomfortable. She will be strong. She will be motivated and determined. She will crush every dream and goal she sets for herself and she won’t be easily distracted. She’ll love herself so much that no one’s puppy love can phase her.
She will be courageous and she will be kind. I compliment her daily, and remind her that she is a queen. She will go into life knowing what she has to offer and knowing that she’s unstoppable.
I will teach her to be everything I wasn’t.
She won’t be weak, she’ll be fearless.
I’ve been thinking what my point in sharing this is. Why am I just telling dad stories? Why am I sharing these stories without some kind of motivational and inspirational words of wisdom to end it?
Well, when I was younger I thought these things were my fault: I didn’t know I could do anything to stop it. At one point I wondered if I would go to jail if I reported him and no one believed me. Just a child, worrying about going to jail because they were sexually assaulted…. that could be your child. You reading this right now. It could be yours.
Right now there is someone reading this who also thought the things that happened to them were their fault. And I just need you to know that it wasn’t. I need you to take your power back. I got an apology but maybe you never did and never will. Take your power back anyways.
Stand up with me and release all the things that bind you from your past.
Forgive yourself. We’ve all thought at least once “how could I have let that happen to me” we all carry that guilt. FORGIVE YOURSELF. Love yourself regardless of what has happened to you. Love your life despite unfair things that have happened to you.
Decide that today is the first day of the rest of your life. Tomorrow is the first page of your new book. Screw a new chapter, start a whole new book.
You set the tone, you become the brand new version of you.
I am often told how strong I am. You are too. All of you.
You’re all fighting these silent battles. You all push through life and you’re all strong.
Don’t ever forget that. We aren’t victims. No one can break us.