I never disclosed anything about my abuse until I began college, when I started feeling finally freed from the physical chains of the abuse, though the mental chains still hold me down. I never have and still don’t feel easy when I speak about this. There is still a knot in my throat, a heaviness in my chest, and an overwhelming sense of guilt and sadness every time I am reminded that I, too, was raped as a child.
I choose the word “victim” instead of “survivor” very intentionally. Being called a survivor means I've reclaimed my trauma and have used it for good. Being a victim means the blame is being put back on the person to whom it belongs: the man who raped me as a child. I prefer victim and this is only because the second I wanted to use the word “survivor,” my pain became some platform for others to either commend me on my strength or ask me to help others to pay it forward. Any assistance, guidance or support was not given to me, and instead, I was the one having to provide it to others before I was ready to do so. So, I’m a victim. Not a survivor.
I joined the #MeToo movement and since then I have been viewed differently by all of my friends that knew me during the time of my abuse and didn’t know. I have lost all of my friends (except one) from that time just because of that simple fact. I am still the one suffering from the pain someone else caused me, but I guess that’s just the reality of sexual abuse.
I was abused from the time I was twelve until I turned sixteen and could try to physically escape from the situation. The worst part is that the abuser was a family member, so even when I tried to escape, I knew I never could. I am always going to be branded by the sharp pains and belittlement that occurred so long ago. I am always going to be that little girl just asking someone to help her.
As I continue moving forward with my life, when people find out about this sexual abuse, no one ever loves me more. If anything, people love me less. In their minds, I am seen as the same broken, used, useless individual I’ve seen in the mirror since the first day I was told to take my clothes off. No one wants to try and love the broken girl who has been systematically abused even after the rapes stopped because there are stronger, better girls out there to love. No one wants used when they could have new.
The reality is that I am not healed. I will not end this with some motivational or inspirational “go get em” lies when the reality is that I am still hurting the same way I was seven years ago when this all began. The reality is that a piece of me is broken. A piece of me has been stolen and I will never be able to feel whole again just because of that.
My sexual abuser broke me. I like to think the pain has gone down and the intensity of the nightmares, flashbacks and daily reminders of my abuse have gone down. But on most days I can’t see through my pain to the truth.
Childhood sexual abuse survivors need help. I don’t need people telling me how strong or resilient I am when the shameful reality is that I'm still laying in bed at night crying and locking my door and windows twice to make sure I'm not hurt again. I'm still distancing myself from personal relationships and romantic relationships entirely. I'm still begging to be heard by those who keep ignoring my pain, because I haven’t been since the moment I tried telling someone about the abuse and no one listened.
I just want to be heard. I want to be strong enough, for once, and I want to wake up in the morning and be happy I did. I want to be loved.
To my childhood sexual abuser: Congratulations! You broke me.