*Trigger warning: sexual abuse, domestic violence.
February 3, 2009.
15 years old.
My hands were shaking as I tried not to drop the telephone. Stone cold body, I didn't feel real, or alive. The world I had known was gone forever. This moment wasn't happening.
This was the life changing moment when my dark, lifelong secret was out.
"Oh, Lindsey, he molested you."
Just that one sentence was enough to kill who I used to be. The innocent 15 year old withered away. I can still hear her words to this day.
I was talking to my aunt about the toxic relationship of my mother and her on/off boyfriend. She had been suspicious for years that he was sexual abusive of me. That night she got her dreaded answer.
Numb, I tried to deny it all. I didn't realize at the time the gravity of the situation. I tried to watch American Idol as if nothing had happened, Adam Lambert would distract me from that dark day. Block it out, Lindsey, something you've learned to do this entire time. I felt like I was on autopilot.
I couldn't block it out anymore. Soon the whole family would know. Soon he would know. I was going to get in trouble. Would anyone else believe me? This wasn't a normal relationship we had?
It wasn't normal. He groomed me. From age six to 15, he spent a lot of attention on me: showering me with presents, road trips, babysitting me (only me), entertaining me with cartoon voices and funny stories.
He would massage my feet, his hands slowly working their way up. I would be naked from the waist down. It was normal for him to be exposed from the waist down as well. My first permanent memory of male genitals, I still remember what it felt like in my hands. What he did to me didn't physically hurt me, so it had to be okay. That's exactly what he had me believe; this was normal between a child and an adult male.
Everyday after that fateful night I was on edge: doors always locked, every little sound I jumped. I was terrified he was going to break into the house and kill me, or worse...rape me. I still have that fear to this day. Any vehicle that looked like his silver truck...heartbeat picked up. I barely slept, I kept thinking he was going to get me, awake or in dreamland.
I felt safe in school, the principals and secretaries knew. He couldn't touch me in school. Too bad I couldn't escape the thoughts I had throughout the day. None of my friends knew, I was embarrassed. I couldn't trust anyone, I didn't even trust myself.
Everything I once believed was now a filthy lie: sex was evil, pornography was a weapon, masturbating was a sin. Here I was, 15, and slowly becoming sexually awakened: the urges, the fantasies...they felt wrong. I couldn't separate what he did to me from what was normal. Maybe I was just like him.
I kept my distance from male friends, all my friends in general, but a special firewall was up for any male, even my father and brother. I wore a purity ring in high school, staying a virgin all four years. I embraced my innocence, something I cherished and kept iron locked. I didn't think I would ever get married, I was damaged and convinced all guys were the same and wanted one thing.
Isolated in my bedroom with my rock music was how I spent my teen years. It's a refuge I still have today. My musical idols didn't make me feel alone, they understood what I couldn't say out loud.
It's now February 2018, nine years later. February will always be difficult for me, but it seems to be getting easier each year.
I'm now 24, a college graduate that helps kids with similar backgrounds. I'm no longer ashamed by my trauma, and I know I'll never be my abuser. What he did to me and what I choose to do sexually are not the same thing, I make my choices now.
I've had three relationships, and I believe in love again. I still wear a purity ring, not because I'm saving myself for marriage, but to remind myself that I come first, and hopefully one day my purity ring will be replaced with an engagement ring/wedding ring.
I share my story to inspire others. I even put my abuser in prison for 14 months, and helped make him a lifetime sex offender on the state registry. I'm also trying to change Maine laws on how the parole system deals with sex offenders.
My 15 year old self was scared of what I was going to become. I hope I made her proud, she's come a long way.
National Sexual Assault Hotline, available 24 hours a day: