Warning: This post discusses child sexual abuse and may be troubling for some readers.
Hello Loves. I know I went MIA again. I didn't realize it had been so long since I last posted until you started reaching out to check on me. Thank you to everyone who messaged or emailed! I'm still here. I've been battling some demons, so to speak. I don't talk about my personal life much here, but I have decided it is time to tell you more about who I am and the events that shaped my life.
I am all of these things: a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a woman, a nail tech, a blogger, and a friend. But I am also a STATISTIC. What I am NOT...as of right now...is a VICTIM...anymore. I am a SURVIVOR. By telling you my story, I am shaking off the chains that have bound me for over 20 years. This post may be difficult for some people to read. I apologize for that. But this needs to be told. And it needs to be read. If it saves just one child, it is worth it.
I'm not sure where to start. Do I start with the challenges I face today? Do I write this in chronological order? I honestly don't know. So I'm just going to start writing and see where we end up.
And then there's me. I guess you could say that I was born with a chip on my shoulder. Growing up, I was always jealous of my brother. My family is a little old fashioned. Daddy took my brother under his wing and taught him to be a boy. Hunting, fishing, the family business (they're electricians). And Mama raised me. I always felt like it wasn't fair. I begged Daddy to teach me to hunt and fish. I begged him to teach me the family trade. But those were boy things. Not girl things. As I got older, I was surrounded by dolls but longed for my brother's toys. He had dirt bikes and pellet guns. His "toys" were way cooler than mine. We also lived in a neighborhood that was mostly boys. They were all a few years older than me. By the time I was 10 years old, I was following my brother and his friends around and trying to be a tomboy. But I wasn't a boy, and teenage boys tend to notice. At the same time, I started fighting with my Dad. Constant fighting. I starting acting out. At 11 years old, I was experimenting with my sexuality with the neighborhood boys. At 12 years old, I started smoking.
Some relatives offered to let me spend the weekend at their house to have some time away from Dad. This was a couple that my parents trusted and I started going over there every weekend. At first, I was close to the wife. We did everything together and I enjoyed our shopping trips and nights playing Nintendo. And I loved that they treated me like an adult. They let me smoke behind my parents' backs and didn't judge me. Their house became my home away from home.
Sometimes a number is difficult to understand. So I want to share a few photos taken during that time period. I look back at these photos and tears come to my eyes. I was so young. Just a baby. Looking back now, I can't comprehend how an adult can be sexually attracted to a child. The picture on the left was taken before a formal award ceremony that I attended with my boyfriend. The photo on the right was taken on a trip to the beach with my abuser. I was 13 years old in both pictures.
During my freshman year, I met and started dating my ex-husband. After dating him for a few months, I decided I was in love. The "affair" with the older man started to feel like I was cheating on my boyfriend. So I tried to end it. He resisted. He begged and pleaded. The attempts at continued manipulation were desperate and I began to feel smothered. He would hold me around the waist in a hug and beg me not to end things. He was all alone. His marriage had fallen apart and they were headed toward divorce. He claimed that he loved me and I was all he had to live for. He threatened to hurt himself. He told me I could never tell anyone about "us" because people wouldn't understand. It would hurt them to know the truth, and it would be my fault. They would put him in jail, and he would kill himself before that happened. I stopped going around him, but I still saw him at gatherings a couple of times a year. He would make a point to catch me alone and remind me that I had to keep his secret or I would destroy the people I love and I would be killing him.
This photo was taken shortly after I ended the "relationship" with my abuser. I was 14 years old.
I wish I could say that it all stopped there, but it didn't. Like many victims of abuse, major changes had occurred in my brain. The tie between love and sex was severed for me. They no longer go hand in hand. For most people, sex is a very intimate thing. For me, it became completely disassociated. I used my body to get what I wanted from people. I had very little self respect. Nudity was no big deal. My actions led to the end of my first marriage. I never told him about my abuse.
For almost 15 years, I kept the secret. When I started dating Keith, he knew. The first time he saw me around my abuser, he just knew. He asked me about it. I denied it. We went on to get married and I was 27 when I got pregnant with my first child. My abuser reached out and asked me what I still needed for the baby. He said he wanted to buy my child something nice. It was that moment that something in my brain snapped. I was utterly disgusted by the thought and terrified at the same time. I knew I would never let him be around my child. And I was paralyzed by the fear that he would show up at the hospital when my son was born.
I am feeling better now. My doctor changed my medications to help me cope with the battle that rages inside my head. The flashbacks are becoming less frequent. And I am finding myself wanting to do the things I enjoy again - like blogging. I feel like I am walking out of a fog that lasted for months. But I know it can hit again at any time. Something as simple as a hug from my husband can send me spiraling back into the Hell locked inside my mind. Over 20 years have passed...and I am still living with the effects of being a victim of child molestation. But by writing this post - by telling my story - I am refusing to be a victim anymore. I will NOT let this define me. I am strong. I am a survivor. And I have something to say.
To the young girls reading this post, I know how you feel. You are discovering who you are and you feel like you are capable of making decisions about your sexuality. As hard as it is to admit, you are a prime target for sexual abuse. Pedophiles may see your desires and play into them. They will manipulate you and make you believe that you are choosing to engage in activities. You will feel like you are in control. That you are calling all the shots. You are not in control. These men (and women) know what to say and how to act to manipulate you. I had no idea that "decisions" I made as a young teen could impact my life so severely that I would struggle with them as a 34 year old woman. Please, consider your future self in every decision you make. If it is illegal, it is illegal for a reason. Everything you do today will shape your future life. Every decision you make - good or bad - will impact your future in some way. If you are currently living a story like mine, or if you have ever been approached by an adult in a sexual way, please tell someone. Don't keep the secret of a pedophile. Yes, people will be hurt if you tell the truth, but you are not the one hurting them. Your abuser is. It is not your responsibly to keep secrets that put others in danger. You are not responsible for his (or her) actions. To you, it may feel like love. It is not. And you are not alone.
Keep open lines of communication with your children, but know there is a good chance they will not tell you if they are being abused. Watch for small things. Trust your gut. If something feels off, it is. Ask questions. Be weary of people you know and trust. According to www.VictimsofCrime.org, 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys are victims of sexual abuse. That number is startling. 1 in 5 girls. 1 in 20 boys. Next time you go out with your girlfriends, take a look around the table. It is likely that one of them has lived through abuse. If your child tells you someone has touched her/him, believe it. Don't brush it off, no matter how well you know the person they accuse. My mother never doubted me when I told her. If she had, I don't know where I would be now. So believe your children. It might be your husband, your brother, your father, your neighbor. Monsters are real. They are smart and cunning. They hide in plain sight. Be vigilant. Protect your children. This is not something that only happens in bad families. I grew up in a loving home, and it still happened to me.
For those who need help coping with sexual abuse, there are resources that can help you. Please visit this link: https://www.rainn.org/national-resources-sexual-assault-survivors-and-their-loved-ones.
Everyone has a story to tell. I have now told mine. I am still a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a woman, a nail tech, a blogger, and a friend. I am still a statistic. But I refuse to be a victim anymore. I am a SURVIVOR. I'm getting stronger every day. I have started this post many times over the past few years. This time, I have finished it. I have published it. And I am healing.
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