I am in my early twenties. I have told my story a few times, but each time is hard and I usually try to make it as small and detached as possible.
My first experience is one that comes back to me in fragments. Me, four years old. My neighbor’s house. The boy being 8 or so. Him making me go into the bathroom with him to “show me something” – he ended up with no pants. I have hazy memories of his father having me sit on top of him as he was shirtless while I gave him a massage.
My second experience went on from approximately ages 7-9. A man in my church who helped with the children’s mid-week evening activities. He always made me uncomfortable but I never knew why. Until eventually I always felt singled out. Getting in trouble for things I didn’t have anything to do with so I could be placed in time out and have to sit next to him by the wall while the others played. If he ran into me in the halls and no one was around, he would stop me and talk to me like I was a grown up even though I didn’t talk back. Then he started finding ways to get me alone and touch me. I never told a soul, this is the first time. He would single me out and make me afraid of getting in trouble, which for me as a child was the worst imaginable. I never got in trouble because I didn’t want anyone to be upset with me. I wanted everyone to love me or I failed somehow. He touched me on many occasions until I aged out of his class.
My third and most impactful experience was when I was 13 years old. My older brother was fairly rebellious and while he got left in charge for a weekend, he had a party. This was not the first time this had happened, and I didn’t want anything to do with it. I stayed in my room and went to sleep. Some time in the middle of the night, I awoke to a large hand covering my face, the other on my throat. All I heard was a whispered, “Shhhh. Keep your eyes closed” in a voice that was filled with a threat. In terror, I froze. I realized he was already missing his clothes at this point, and he started to touch me. He took his hand off of my throat and threatened me again, then proceeded to rape me, violently. After, I realized he’d put a condom on before waking me. He removed it and took it with him. Before he left me alone in my dark bedroom, he whispered “If you breathe a word, no one will believe you, and I’ll come back. It’ll be worse.”
I didn’t say a single word until I was 16, and all I did was write a note to my dad telling him what happened, in full detail. When he approached me, he mentioned that he told my brother (who had grown up, stopped partying, and is a great guy) as well as one of his co-workers about it immediately in his distress. I was hurt as I didn’t want anyone else to know and told him I was fine, I got over it, and he didn’t need to worry about it. That I only told him because I don’t like having secrets from him (he was great growing up, but in my teens/adulthood we became closer.) This seemed enough to placate him and I never brought it up again. My closest friends know and, of course, my dad and older brother.
The shame is what gets me the most. When I share my story, I always feel like eyes will roll and people will instantly think “oh great, she’s damaged”. This causes me to end most relationships before they start, as the fear of letting people down or somehow disappointing them or missing the mark has stayed with me to this day. I don’t trust any male, ever. It takes years of them “proving it” before I am 100% comfortable.
But I am strong. I work a full time job, and for the first time in my life, am unashamed of my own body. I see beauty when I look in the mirror. Depression tries daily to claim me, but I get out of bed and get things done. I’ve learned to try to live in the moment as much as possible, but to always remember to look forward to the “tomorrows.” That, even though I’m still trying to put my pieces back together. I’m still alive, and it’s okay to be broken sometimes.