I grew up in a dysfunctional and broken family. The youngest of four to a single mother struggling with addiction and her own demons, I didn’t have much of a chance in the pursuit of normalcy. When we were children, my mother sent us to church once a week with a trusted and close family friend so that she could have the morning to tend to household chores without disruption. It was at this church, when I was ten years old, that the perpetrator of the crimes against me found me and began grooming me. Through a long and well thought out process, he gained the trust of the family friend we attended church with, my mother, as well as the entire congregation. He went as far as to organize a presentation in front of the congregation to signify that he was stepping into our family to play the role of a grandfather to my siblings and I.
Outside of church, he singled me out from my siblings. He never had much interest in making a connection with my brother. He methodically treated me different from my sisters in a way that successfully drove a wedge between not only them and I but also between me and my entire immediate family. Eventually he only spent time with me, and he managed to get the opportunity to have extensive one on one time with me in his home. For a while, his grown biological grand daughter lived with him, and once she moved out there was no one to catch him in the act. That is when I first remember him sexually abusing me. By that time I was eleven.
That night, he had stayed up in the living room watching tv and I had been watching children’s shows and other things on the tv in his bedroom. He waited until I had fallen asleep to come into his bed where I had fallen asleep and I awoke to find him pulling my pajama pants down and manipulating my private area. I lay there trying to appear to still be asleep. It was painful and I was afraid. I thought about getting up and running out of the house to bang on a neighbour’s door. But I knew I would be lucky just to make it to the bedroom door, let alone have someone successfully wake up and rescue me before the perpetrator would catch up with me. So instead I lay there falsifying my sleep.
I rolled around now and then to make it difficult for him and he eventually stopped. I was staying at his house for the weekend, and so I could not just remedy the situation the next day. I worried all day about what had happened the night before. I thought to myself, “How could this happen? He wouldn’t do that to me! He’s a Christian man!” He didn’t ever tell me not to tell anyone or acknowledged what happened in any way. It happened again the next night. But that time I was prepared and much sooner resorted to rolling around and disrupting his efforts.
After I made it home I didn’t tell anyone, but I did write about it in a diary. He never had to convince me with his words that no one would believe me. He showed me with his behavior. Quite some time later that year, my sister and her friend read my diary, and immediately told my mother. She was at work when my sister called her and told her what she had read in my diary, and I was again at this mans home. My mother left work and immediately came to get me. She was calm but adamant about moving quickly as she gathered me and my things from his home. I had no idea she had found out what happened.
My perpetrator was sentenced to nine months of house arrest when he plead guilty to the charges against him. Nine months, house arrest. The next time I saw him I was twelve years old. I was walking down the street and he drove past me. He didn’t see me but I saw him. All I could think was, “That wasn’t enough time, it wasn’t enough.”
After therapy I came to believe I was “cured” from this horrible condition of terror that looms over you after a sexual assault. But I soon found that wouldn’t be the end of it for me. After many familial struggles, I wound up on my own at sixteen years old. Tossed around in the family services system for a year I found myself eventually in a group home. I was raped by another youth in the home during my stay there. I told the staff who then took me to complete a rape kit, only to be told by the police that because the rapist and his friends who participated in sodomizing me had gotten me so drunk I couldn’t remember all the events chronologically that they could not press charges.
Then again at the age of twenty I was sexually assaulted by someone I thought was my friend. This time I did not bother to turn to the police.
I hope that some day I can find a way to uplift other victims and teach them how to become a victor instead. A victor is someone who has risen from the ashes left behind after the fire of a sex crime destroys who someone is before they were victimized. Like a Phoenix.
— Survivor, age 22