My father had abandoned my family when I was 8 years old. From then on until now I thought I needed the love of a man to fill the emptiness he left behind. When I was 11 my mother worked at in a small Latin shop where she was a cashier. She was extremely popular with all the different people she came across & one day she met a man from The store and brought him home. He quickly became a friend to our household & was trusting, loving & good company When I was 13 my mother couldn’t afford the apartment we lived in so we went on to live with him “If anyone asks” she said, “he’s your cousin.” I didn’t hesitate because he was my friend and I loved him and in him I saw a father figure and from then on again until this very day I would say he was my cousin. From the times I was alone with him up until a year had passed he had sexually assaulted and molested me whenever he had the chance to. Touching, groping, and digitally assaulting me, and making me preform oral acts. Back then, I didn’t understand what it meant to be sexually assaulted. I didn’t think about it much until I was 17. I didn’t talk about it with anyone until now. I’m 21 in March. It took me over 7 years to open up about what happened. I’m completely terrified to say any of this. All these years I kept it to myself because I thought I was wrong, I didn’t think anyone would talk to me or love me anymore. I felt like people would judge me or look at me different. But now I realize that I was wrong. It was not my fault first of all & I wish I could’ve opened up to someone, my biggest fear was that my mom wouldn’t believe me. Sadly, I just recently opened up to her about the events of what had happened and she didn’t believe me but thankfully I received so much support from my best friend & sister. It was not my fault, all this time I acted like it never happened but it always haunted me. All these years I said I had lost my virginity from a bad experience because I was ashamed of saying the truth. Keeping this locked up inside of me for more than 7 years is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. But now I want to speak up and let everyone know that they’re not alone, that there are people out here who know the struggle and that we are survivors. I am a survivor, I am not a victim. I made the mistake of keeping silent but I will no longer make that mistake regardless if anyone believes me, or sees me differently. I am strong & I am a warrior. This did not define me but shaped me into the independent and strong woman I am.