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My very first memories include getting a kitten, playing with a stuffed animal with my dad, and finally taking home a red dress I had talked incessantly about after seeing it in a store window.

My other first memories, which happened around the same time at ages 3 and 4, involve standing between my parents to protect my mother as my drunk father beat her, and waking up to my father’s hand down my pants but pretending to be asleep because I was scared and didn’t know what to do.

Things only got worse as I got older. When I was 9 I told my mother, who I’m pretty sure believed me but was too depressed to do anything to protect me from her ex-husband. He started raping me when I turned 11.

Growing up, I never thought the violence would end. I don’t know why, but I never thought I’d live to be an adult. Maybe I thought that because I couldn’t imagine that things would ever change.

But they did. I moved away. I went to college. My first day there, I met my soulmate and best friend. That was ten years ago, and we’ve now decided to start our family together. Of all things, I never could’ve imagined as a child that my biggest dilemmas would one day entail picking out the right color to paint a nursery. It all seems so silly- but not in a bad way, of course!

I’m at a point in my life where I’m trying to let go of some of that pain from so long ago. I don’t even feel angry at my father really. He’s in his final days (the alcoholism has taken quite a toll on him). He never changed his ways or lived a fulfilling life, but that is his problem now. For me, I’m just trying to know that it’s okay that everything he did has affected my life so deeply, but that it doesn’t dictate anything about my happiness or my future.

If you’re reading the stories on here because you can relate, there are some things I’d like for you to know. I am so sorry for what you went through. You deserve better and it’s brutally unfair. Just by coming here and reading through these stories, I know you’re a strong person because you’re still here. I know you’re a brave person because you are choosing to deal with the darkest realities of life directly instead of covering up how badly it can hurt. And know that you’re really never alone, even though it sure feels that way- we’re everywhere.

— Steph

1 comment

  • Alissa Ackerman


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