While sitting in a Senior High School Class listening to a couple guest speakers talk about their son being molested by their babysitter, I had an unusual feeling of understanding come over me that I somehow knew the pain and confusion this child must have been feeling. Feeling that no one understood what you were dealing with and the deep ache to rid yourself of an unknown secret. I really didn’t know why I had these feelings, but I sat in that classroom almost in tears and amazement on how these people were talking so freely about this traumatic event in their son’s life. Luckily this was the last real class I had that day because I was not able to focus on anything but the words these people talked about and how they were very clear that this is not the “Victims” fault that these people do these things. They also explained that if we knew anyone who had or was being hurt by someone we needed to speak up and not allow them to continue to make that person or yourself the victim any longer.
I walked around in a fog most of the rest of the afternoon and into the evening. I had trouble going to sleep that night with strange thoughts running through my head. Once I finally fell asleep I was restless and the next thing I knew I awoke screaming, “NO! STOP! YOU’RE HURTING ME!” The memories came flooding back to a horrible night in my life that I had somehow blocked from my subconscious. It was now back and I was never going to forget it again.
I had been molested with inappropriate touching and actions by a man close to our family. He made threats that I would be hurt or that my family wouldn’t believe me if I were to even tell them. This went on for several years and I just allowed this man to treat me like my feelings meant nothing. At age 12, I finally got the courage to stand up to this man and tell him “NO” and that I wouldn’t allow him to treat me like that ever again.
I thought that everything was going to stop and that I had finally been able to take control until I went to sleep that night. I awoke to the most excruciating pain and my head being forced into a pillow. I was on my stomach and I couldn’t move and at times could barely breathe while this grown man raped me and said horrible words to me while shoving my head further in the pillow so I couldn’t scream. I must have blacked out because I don’t remember anything after that.
From that day forward I was a different young lady. I went from being very outgoing and high spirited, to a tomboy and guarded. I wore clothing that didn’t flatter me as to not attract males. I became just one of the guys in my group of friends and started pushing those who were close to me away so that I couldn’t be hurt like that again. I didn’t speak of that night because I just remembered him telling me that no one was going to believe me. I eventually completely blocked it from my memory as a way to protect myself. I also felt there must have been something I had done to deserve this and that maybe I done something to encourage him. He made me a victim and by allowing that I empowered him.
This all came back to me 5 years later, yes I blocked this horrible event out of my memory for 5 years and all it did was tear me up from the inside and created insecurities and depression that I could not truly understand. I had thoughts of suicide and the feeling of just being completely alone and misunderstood. Once this all came back to me I decided I would never keep silent about it again. I pulled myself together and wrote it all down in an anonymous letter to the class, we had a drop box that was in the room that we could put questions in and the class would give their opinions and advice. I didn’t hold anything back in that letter, well nothing but my name of course. I asked if they could help me to determine what I needed to do next to overcome this and how I could stop from being this victim and now take control of my life, once again.
When I got to school that morning I dropped the letter in the box while no one was in the class and proceeded with my school day feeling a bit of the burden I had carried so long, lifted from me. When I arrived to class that afternoon the teacher was standing at the front of the class with his stool and asked everyone to please take their seats. I knew what was about to happen. We all sat down and he sat on his stool and proceeded to tell the class that he had something very serious to read to them and that their help was very important. I gathered all the strength I had in me and listened to the words read back to me that I had written that morning. It all truly became reality at that moment. There was no going back.
After the teacher read the letter he looked to the class for their words of wisdom and guidance. I continued to not show signs that the letter was from me and I even asked and answered questions. These students were so helpful and they didn’t even know that the person who wrote those words was me. We discussed how this is something that is history and by continuing to allow it to fester was only hurting me and holding me back from my future. They talked about how this is not something I did or could have stopped. We discussed that my taking a stand was a good thing even though it caused this to escalate. This was the man’s burden to bare not mine.
After class let out I walked up to the front of the class to talk to the teacher as I did every day. He looked at me and asked me how I thought he and the class had done with the letter. I responded, “You did great!” He said, “You think so?” I looked him in the eyes and said, “It helped a lot!” His eyes changed and started to fill with tears. “I didn’t know,” he said, with the tears starting to flow. I looked at him and said, “I know that is why you helped so much.” If he would have known it was me he may have not been so open about his responses. He gave me a hug and for the first time in many years felt the warmth in another person’s hugs without being scared.
I will leave this story with this for now and will continue with stories that came from me deciding that I was not going to continue to be the victim of this man and that I would never be silent about it again. All being silent did was hurt me and the negativity of the secret was like a cancer in me and was just spreading and once I refused to allow it anymore my life changed. I won’t tell you it was always perfect after that day but it was the strength that I pulled from and continue to pull from today when things get rough.
In closing, don’t read this post and pity me for what happened in my past. My past is my foundation and what made me the strong independent person I am today. I want to share this story so that maybe I can reach others that are going through, or have gone through, similar times. Maybe, just maybe, you can see that you are not alone and you too can find the strength to be “THE VICTIM NO MORE”.