My Secret Came Out

My Secret Came Out

My Secret Came Out
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*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:

1-800-656-4673

Cover Image Credit: Lindsey Daggett

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20 Things That Happen When A Jersey Person Leaves Jersey

Hoagies, pizza, and bagels will never be the same.
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Ah, the "armpit of America." Whether you traveled far for college, moved away, or even just went on vacation--you know these things to be true about leaving New Jersey. It turns out to be quite a unique state, and leaving will definitely take some lifestyle adjustment.

1. You discover an accent you swore you never had.

Suddenly, people start calling you out on your pronunciation of "cawfee," "wooter," "begel," and a lot more words you totally thought you were saying normal.

2. Pork Roll will never exist again.

Say goodbye to the beautiful luxury that is pork roll, egg, and cheese on a bagel. In fact, say goodbye to high-quality breakfast sandwiches completely.

3. Dealing with people who use Papa Johns, Pizza Hut, or Dominos as their go-to pizza.

It's weird learning that a lot of the country considers chain pizza to be good pizza. You're forever wishing you could expose them to a real, local, family-style, Italian-owned pizza shop. It's also a super hard adjustment to not have a pizza place on every single block anymore.

4. You probably encounter people that are genuinely friendly.

Sure Jersey contains its fair share of friendly people, but as a whole, it's a huge difference from somewhere like the South. People will honestly, genuinely smile and converse with strangers, and it takes some time to not find it sketchy.

5. People drive way slower and calmer.

You start to become embarrassed by the road rage that has been implanted in your soul. You'll get cut off, flipped off, and honked at way less. In fact, no one even honks, almost ever.

6. You realize that not everyone lives an hour from the shore.

Being able to wake up and text your friends for a quick beach trip on your day off is a thing of the past. No one should have to live this way.

7. You almost speak a different language.

The lingo and slang used in the Jersey area is... unique. It's totally normal until you leave, but then you find yourself receiving funny looks for your jargon and way fewer people relating to your humor. People don't say "jawn" in place of every noun.

8. Hoagies are never the same.

Or as others would say, "subs." There is nothing even close in comparison.

9. Needing Wawa more than life, and there's no one to relate.

When you complain to your friends about missing Wawa, they have no reaction. Their only response is to ask what it is, but there's no rightful explanation that can capture why it is so much better than just some convenient store.

10. You have to learn to pump gas. Eventually.

After a long period of avoidance and reluctance, I can now pump gas. The days of pulling up, rolling down your window, handing over your card and yelling "Fill it up regular please!" are over. When it's raining or cold, you miss this the most.

11. Your average pace of walking is suddenly very above-average.

Your friends will complain that you're walking too fast - when in reality - that was probably your slow-paced walk. Getting stuck behind painfully slow people is your utmost inconvenience.

12. You're asked about "Jersey Shore" way too often.

No, I don't know Snooki. No, our whole state and shore is not actually like that. We have 130 miles of some of the best beach towns in the country.

13. You can't casually mention NYC without people idealizing some magical, beautiful city.

Someone who has never been there has way too perfect an image of it. The place is quite average and dirty. Don't get me wrong, I love a good NYC day trip as much as the next person, but that's all it is to you... a day trip.

14. The lack of swearing is almost uncomfortable.

Jerseyans are known for their foul mouths, and going somewhere that isn't as aggressive as us is quite a culture adjustment.

15. No more jughandles.

No longer do you have to get in the far right lane to make a left turn.

16. You realize that other states are not nearly as extreme about their North/South division.

We literally consider them two different states. There are constant arguments and debates about it. The only thing that North and South Jersey can agree on is that a "Central Jersey" does not exist.

17. Most places also are not in a war over meat.

"Pork roll" or "taylor ham"... The most famous debate amongst North and South Jersey. It's quite a stupid argument, however, considering it is definitely pork roll.

18. You realize you were spoiled with fresh produce.

After all, it's called the "Garden State" for a reason. Your mouth may water just by thinking about some fresh Jersey corn.

19. You'll regret taking advantage of your proximity to everything.

Super short ride to the beach and a super short ride to Philly or NYC. Why was I ever bored?

20. Lastly, you realize how much pride you actually have in the "armpit of America," even if you claimed to dislike it before.

After all, there aren't many places with quite as much pride. You find yourself defending your state at all necessary moments, even if you never thought that would be the case.

Cover Image Credit: Travel Channel

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Let's Talk About Israel

As a reform Jew, I have had a lot of problems with the country of Israel and where I stand on supporting its existence versus supporting its government.

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As a reform Jew, I have had a lot of problems with the country of Israel and where I stand on supporting its existence versus supporting its government. I know there is a need for a country for Jewish people to reside without fear of anti-semitism. Especially following the rise of it after the election of the Trump administration and following the shooting in Pittsburg. There have been many actions taken around the world that continue to prove my point that anti-semitism is on the rise and that there is a need for Israel as a home for the Jewish people. However, the actions taken by the Israeli government have made it truly difficult for me to support Israel with all of my being.

Some of my issues with the state of Israel lie within its treatment of Jews who are not Orthodox as well as people who are not Jewish at all. Since it follows international law that all people are allowed to follow there own religious beliefs and practices, it should follow that religious states allow for leniency underneath laws made surrounding religious beliefs. When it comes to Orthodox versus Reform and Conservative Jews, Israel has some laws that directly limit the rights and abilities of this population. For example, Orthodox Rabbis have exclusive rights to perform marriages in Israel.

Also, dual citizenship for Jews is limited to Orthodox Jews. This would mean that every single Jew who is not Orthodox or who did not convert under Orthodox law do not have rights to dual citizenship. Gay marriage is not legal in Israel yet also despite Tel Aviv has one of the biggest Pride Parades that occur each year. With all of these pieces coming together, I have had to come to terms with what it means to support a country whose leader does support me as a reform Jew and as a bisexual woman. My right to practice my chosen profession in Israel would not even be recognized due to the fact that not only am I reform but I am female. I would not be allowed to practice Rabbinic's in Israel.

Also, Israel has been committing atrocities during their recent conflict with Hamas and in their push to claim territory on the West Bank. The Settlements have been created through incentive programs that make it more fiscally reasonable to live there. Israeli citizens often move out there more for financial reasons. The conflicts with Hamas have caused countless civilian casualties on both sides. Both Hamas and the Israeli government have been committing acts of war and putting innocent lives in the way of their continued issue with each other.

Most of what I explained is barely scraping the tip of the iceberg that is Israel and its many conflicts, issues, and history. My issue with Israel rests within its government and the people in charge. The way Netanyahu has taken to leading the country is an embarrassment and a travesty. Watching these actions unfold over the last few years under Netanyahu have made me question my support of such a beautiful country.

Each government has its own issues. However, I have found a fine line between supporting Israel and her right to exist and not supporting her leaders. The people who run the country do not reflect the beliefs of the people and of the religion that the country represents. This must be emphasized as the line between disagreeing with Israel and disagreeing with Judaism altogether has been blurred.

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