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These last few months I have experienced the most growth and healing. I know now that I am ready to share my story. I want to break the silence. I want to encourage others who have been there. You are not alone, damaged goods, dirty, or broken.
I remember being abused for the first time at age five. A boy in his late teens was playing Hide N Seek with all the younger children from my neighborhood. He told me that if I hide in the shower I would win. I excitedly hid! He never went looking for all the other kids. He came right into the bathroom that I was in. I had no idea how long we were in there. I was terrified, embarrassed, but also experiencing pleasure that was new to me. Suddenly one of the parents burst into the bathroom. I ran away as fast as I could. I heard the adult yelling. I remember being so scared. I thought my parents were going to talk to be about the bad thing I did in that bathroom. No one ever talked to me though. No one ever mentioned it. That is the first time my abuser successfully got away with his crime.
I would be raped for several years following that event. Looking back now I see all the signs of grooming. I was a quiet kid. I loved playing pretend by myself instead of being with a bunch of kids. I desperately wanted to be pretty like a princess and I wanted to make everyone happy. I never got a lot of attention or affection from my Dad. I desperately wanted his approval, affirmation, and love. My mom and dad fought a lot so I never felt safe in our home. My abuser started grooming me by giving me compliments and playing my pretend princess fairy games. He then moved to brushing my long brown hair while I was on his lap. He would tickle, kiss, and hug me in front of the adults. They always spoke about how great with kids he was, and how he was. He was on a star player on the football team in high school and made good grades. I felt safe, pretty, and special, with him. He gave me what all little girls should get from their parents. I will always wonder how my childhood would have been different if my Dad would have put on the flower crowns I made and played with me. I will always want that.
My abuser change suddenly and drastically about a year into the sexual abuse. I was swimming by myself. (That alone is a clear sign that I was not watched or protected like a small child should be.) My abuser got in the pool and held me under the water until I stopped fighting. I remember choking and puking water. I remember my feet couldn’t touch the bottom of the pool I was so little. My baby dolls had sunk to the bottom. The calm demeanor of my abuser is still shocking to me. I gave in only so I could breathe. The pain was terrible. I know now that he raped me anally that day. I only share that information because I know my abuser was provided porn through one of the parents in the neighborhood. I believe if my abuser would have been protected from porn that I would have been protected in a lot of ways too.
I know my abuser was deeply addicted to porn. I also know now that his addiction played a huge role in why I was sexually abused. That parent thought that if teenage boys had porn they wouldn’t get teen girls pregnant. It was like a rite of passage for them as men. All the while, I was forced to view porn, react porn, and even given a porn star nickname by my abuser. I masturbated openly, in front of my parents and baby sitters. I told my parents and other adults that this was a game called “Tickling.” I remember getting spanked when I got caught, but no one ever asked me any questions.
I don’t think anyone wanted to admit what was going on. Three adults walked in on my being raped during my abuse. Each time I thought that I would finally be free because they would tell my parents. Each time I was disappointed. I felt like trash that no one cared about. I felt like no one cared enough to help me be free. I would go to my little garden and talk to my pretend fairy friends after I was raped. I never lost the hope that I was their princess fairy. I created my own little world where I was loved, cherished, and protected. Looking back now I know that beautiful pretend world saved my life.
These last three years have been so hard. Going to counseling, talking with my support people, and raising my toddler has felt impossible some days. Recently though I had a breakthrough. I realized that I was a little girl. I am not guilty for what happened to me. I was just searching for the affirmation, affection, and love all children need to thrive. I realized that I am not broken, damaged, or dirty. I started posting up note cards all of the house that said things like, “You are a strong!” “You are a good Mom.” “You are beautiful!” I know now that every time I get in the floor and play pirates or trucks with my son I am not only surviving, I shattering the darkness. I am breaking the cycle of abuse in my family. I am being the mom and adult that I needed as a little girl. Despite all the wounds, I am healing. Despite all the lies, I am learning to believe the truth. Despite having a terrible childhood, I will give my son a great one.
Despite it all, I am surviving! We are SURVIVORS!
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