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20 Years Later

My half sister is much older than I am. She married her second husband shortly after our father married my mother.

She and her husband raised beef cattle and rode in rodeos. I loved going to my sister’s house and playing in the fields or with the dogs our riding horses. Unless my sister’s husband was home.

My first memories are of my sister’s husband touching me inappropriately. This escalated around my fifth birthday. He came home early from work and assaulted me in the feed room of the barn where I’d been playing with the cats. My parents believed that I’d hurt myself riding the horses earlier that day and I was too afraid to say otherwise.

I spent my childhood and adolescence afraid to be a girl, afraid to be feminine, because those were the parts that let him hurt me. I still unintentionally hide myself in masculinity, in men’s clothes or groups of close male friends. Whether from fear or habit, I’m not really sure.

I’m now married to a wonderful man and have a 18 month old daughter and 4 week old son. How do I spasm how to be safe without destroying their innocence? Is there even an answer?

My half sister just found out that her fifth husband has been abusing her nine year old daughter. My niece spoke up yesterday.

— Survivor, age 26

1 comment

  • Alissa Ackerman


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