This is what I looked like when I was 11 years old. This is the age I was when I was first sexually abused.
It actually started around the time I was 10. An individual that had access to me would try to touch me inappropriately. I was always able to avoid any actual contact for a long time. One time, I couldn’t. I was caught my surprise and I wasn’t strong enough to fight him off.
He came up behind me, pulled up my dress, and plunged his fingers into my underwear.
When I tried to tell an adult that this was happening to me and that this individual, who continued to have access to me, was still attempting to touch me, the adult dismissed me. I was told not to talk about such an unpleasant topic.
For the next four years, he would try to do this again. Sometimes he would try to fondle my pre-pubescent breasts. Every time after that first time, I fought him off or prevented him from having access to me to even attempt another act. If no one else was going to keep me safe, I was going to provide as much safety for myself as I possibly could.
Upon reflection as an adult, it was amazing that I was such a tiny warrior at such a young age that it never happened again. I’ve always beat myself up for the one time I let my guard down, but I really should be celebrating all the times I triumphed when no one else was there to save me or offer me help.
I couldn’t speak of this for almost fifteen years. To this day, I’ve only ever told a handful of people. The pain didn’t end after I started talking about it, but it did change. There was new pain, such as when I told my dad for the first time. I could tell he felt responsible that he hadn’t known or kept me safe, so while a part of me wants to keep quiet to prevent that type of pain for people I love, I also know that silence is not the answer. Silence prevents conversation which prevents healing which prevents education which prevents knowledge which prevents prevention.
I wish I could say that my story is unique, but it happens far more often that one would think. One in five girls and one in twenty boys has a story like mine.
I hope in sharing my story now, I can have an impact, in some way no matter how small, on this narrative. Children being kept safe. Adults intervening because they know what to look for and they understand what the long term effects will be.
If you are reading this and you have a similar story that you are not ready to share, please know that I have so much compassion for you. I hope and pray that one day you will be ready to share it so that you will feel the incredible lightness of stepping out of the dark shadows of someone else’s demons and into your strength, resilience, and power. Until that time, just know that you are as brave as anyone that is able to share their story. We are all in different phases of this journey. We honor each other through every step of this process.
One in five girls and one in twenty boys.
These numbers are appalling.
Not good enough.
Never good enough until these numbers are zero.
So for now, I say, “Me too.”
I’ll keep saying, “Me too” until we can all say “Never again.”
Thank you for reading.
National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-4673