As a survivor of child sexual abuse, I’m writing to you with a story of hope. Although I experienced the trauma of abuse as a child, I have seen the power to protect children when adults are trained in child sexual abuse prevention.
My abuse first started when I was 5 years old by a cousin who often visited. I was afraid of her and so I would do what she told me to.
Then, at 7 years old, my mother’s live-in boyfriend started sneaking into my room at night. For many years, my mom didn’t realize what was occurring and would leave me alone with him a lot. I had a sister who was younger than me and I was afraid for her. I never wanted him to touch her so I always stayed. I had people that cared about me that I could go to, but I was afraid if I left he would turn on her.
I thought it was a dream. I didn’t believe it was happening.
I was 11 years old when it finally came to an end. One day my mom and grandmother came home from shopping and found me crying. I had just had enough. My grandmother sensed something wasn’t right and her first question to me was, “Did he touch you?” I said, “Yes.” I told them it had been going on for years.
My mother put him out and we went to court. He ended up with 18 months in prison. It left me with a lot of anger and a lot of pain. We never spoke of it in my family and I never received counseling.
You don’t think about how abuse can impact you and who you become. You attract negativity and bad situations into your life because you never dealt with the pain. You don’t realize the affects that it has. And so I dealt with it the best I knew how.
I held a lot of resentment towards my mom for a lot of years. I didn’t understand how she didn’t know. I have since forgiven her, but I do still wonder sometimes how it happened. How do you leave your child with a person who is hurting them?
I know my mom didn’t plan to let someone hurt me, she just didn’t have the skills to protect me from my abusers and to deal with me telling.
It molded a lot of my decisions and a lot of my behaviors into adulthood. For me, it was a matter of trust. I had other issues as a result of rape and date rape, and those things compounded the pain I had from my childhood abuse. It brought me to the point where I didn’t trust people. I didn’t like people. I became cold, angry, and bitter at the world. It was more awful for me than the people that dealt with me.
Thankfully, through faith and personal development I was able to heal and experience tremendous joy in my life.
After leaving an emotionless marriage, I decided to focus on myself. I realized I had issues that I needed to deal with and turned my attention to self-development. After reading some self-help books, I realized I had been unhappy my whole life. I didn’t remember any states of happy at all. I was in my 30s and had never been happy.
That realization hit me very hard and I decided I needed to learn how to be happy. I tried marriage, and parenthood, but I needed to change something deep inside of me to really be happy. I set out to find happiness. I wanted to be able to smile and feel what my face was showing
I was on my way to church and when I walked through the doors I literally felt weight lifted off of me. I wasn’t expecting it, I wasn’t even totally ready, but I didn’t stop crying from the time I walked in to the time I got in my car. This happened weekly. I felt like the pastor was speaking directly to me and some issue I was trying to deal with. This is what I was looking for.
Finding God was a new beginning and that’s what gave me the happy. The spiritual aspect is what helped to heal me.
I had realized that I hadn’t gone through any healing process. The pastor one Sunday started talking about forgiveness and he said “not forgiving is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” It hit me like a ton of bricks. This is what I had been doing my whole life. The problem was me, and I was the one that needed to do the healing. That started the process and I started in that moment to let go of things and come to terms with what had happened to me.
I was strong enough to endure because I am standing here today and someone else needs to know that they can survive, too. Someone else needs to hear that you are beautiful and you deserve to be here. I find joy in helping other people and being of service.
I can’t undo my past, but I am strengthened by the help I can provide other people. I also know that children in the future can be better protected from sexual abuse when the adults in their lives take prevention training.
Please visit d2l.org/possible to see our vision for ending child sexual abuse, or make a donation here: