I never had any intentions on writing about this, but with its prevalence in the media, it is something I cannot seem to keep hidden in the back of my mind (where I prefer to keep it). It is also something that for the first time ever I feel empowered to share. It is comforting to see so many stand up against sexual assault and share their stories. There is finally a movement to strip abusers of their power and through that, I have recognized the strength my voice and story holds. The sentencing of Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics team Doctor, is what has finally inspired me to tell my story. Although I haven’t heard any of the 156 victim-impact statements, including Aly’s Raisman’s (which I heard was very powerful), the nature of the situation has profoundly struck a nerve with me. Once I feel emotionally capable of doing so, I plan on listening to what these brave ladies had to say.
After writing that first paragraph I knew what was to follow was the start of several intensely personal paragraphs describing my truth. And as you’re reading this now, I am struggling to type the words, so I am just going to go ahead and start and it may come off as blunt, but there is no eloquent way to put it… As a child, I was molested by a non-blood related family member.
I’m not sure if I hid the experience in my sub-conscious for so many years because it was so painful or because it genuinely took me that long to realize I had been abused. The first time I recount the memory resurfacing was when I was 13, which makes sense because that is the age I think I was first capable of understanding what had happened to me. One of the saddest things about being abused as a child is not even comprehending the abuse you are suffering. When there is an adult who is in the position to watch over you it is heartbreakingly easy to get manipulated.
I was always excited to see my abuser because I didn’t grow up with a lot of money, and he would always buy me lots of toys when I stayed with him. What occurred between us would be presented to me as a type of chore, a task I had to perform to get something in return. Unfortunately, the “chore” entailed me letting a grown man grope my bare bottom and make out with me. I was 6. Although I didn’t have an understanding of the magnitude of what was happening to me I can recall it making me feel uncomfortable. One day when we had plans to go to the toy store after I did what he asked of me I ended up crying instead. He calmed me down and told me that for now on all I had to do was allow him to tickle me and that would be enough to still get toys. He never did more than tickle me from then on. I still despise being ticked to this day.
When I started to be able to remember and recognize what had happened to me it was very traumatizing and confusing. I felt disgusting and humiliated. Add to the fact that I was an already extremely self-conscious teenage, it unquestionably took a toll on my self-image and self-worth. To this day I am not confident it will ever be something I will be able to work through. Sometimes I wonder if it somehow even had a hand in shaping my anxiety. I know it has affected my self-respect or lack-thereof for many years.
Currently, I am going through a metamorphosis of sorts and am fully committed to continuing down a path of self-actualization and improvement. I am glad the conversation on sexual assault is finally starting to become normalized. It has helped me reclaim my voice and therefore also my power. I sincerely hope the discussion continues and that more and more people start to feel safe and comfortable speaking out.
Feature Images Obtained From: https://www.ncronline.org