I was 8 yrs old when a stranger molested me in the elevator. All I remember is the police station, hospital and my parents panicked reactions. They never spoke of the event again and still won’t talk about it, pretend it never happened.
At 18 I lived as an au-pair in Belgium but was sexually assaulted by both the husband and the wife who tried to convince me it was normal for an au-pair to service them both. I didn’t last a full year there.
At 19 I became a fostermom to a friend’s newborn as she ended up in jail. I had a fulltime job and decided to ask my boss for help to get ‘my’ baby a space in a daycare center. I didn’t want the little girl to be put in fostecare and her relatives didn’t want her. I promised my friend to raise her. My boss (age 59) was really understanding and kind but soon I found out at what price.
One morning he walked into my office, grabbed me from behind, kissed me, pinned me at the desk, unzipped my pants and forced his fingers inside. Later that day I took the elevator and he followed me. That was the first time he raped me. He knew I was a lesbian and flat out told me I was too pretty to be gay and if only I would have been with a real man I would never look at another woman again. And he showed me! He used ‘my’ baby’s daycare space as leverage and raped me whenever/where ever he could.
We used to travel a lot and I dreaded those days. He always booked a room with connecting doors and came as he pleased and forced me to do whatever he fancied. Oral, anal you name it I had it done to me. I had no one to turn to. He was married to our personnelmanager and therefore I couldn’t go to her. My parents were no option and was afraid to loose ‘my’ baby to the system. I felt so trapped. This whole thing continued until I was 25 and was made redundant. Ashamed that I let it go on this long, betrayed by my body as it sometimes reacted to his touch once it wasn’t painful anymore.
I found a new job, raised the little girl and pushed the whole thing out of my mind. I lived a happy life as a single mom, had 2 daughters via artificial insemination, and was doing fine. Until one day about 7 years ago, I heard he passed away. It all came flooding back. Nightmares, anxiety attacks etc. I couldn’t believe it. It wasn’t real, it couldn’t be, but it was. I was a mess. 4 years ago tried to commit suïcide. I traumatized my oldest as she saw me cutting and stopped me, called the neighbour etc. She was only 15 then. More shame!
It wasn’t until I heard about Linor, via Jennifer Beals, that I found the courage to tell someone and seek help. Seeing Brave Miss World was such an eye opener. I now know that only by talking about what happened the ghosts will disappear from my closet and might even have a change at love in a healthy relationship.
I’m still in therapy on a weekly basis. I still am scared when someone stands behind me or puts an arm around me, I freeze when hugged but I’m getting there. My foster daughter is now 30 and has a son of her own. My own daughters are now 14 and 19 and I am 52. Thank you, Jennifer, for talking about the film. Thank you, Linor, for your courage and saving my life.