I don’t remember when my abuser began touching me; I guess I was too young. When I was 6-years-old my mother asked me if anyone touched me, and I finally admitted it was my teenage cousin. He would bring me into his room, turn off the lights, and turn on the TV. I mostly remember images of the room, but I think my mind blocked out what he did to me in order to protect me from the pain.
For years, until I was in my early 20s, I denied I was abused. My family began to believe I forgot about it and they were relieved that we could all keep the peace in the family and move on. I used to look at trauma survivors who had the courage to talk with disgust. I know now that my silence kept me weak and afraid.
Having to see my abuser at family events made me feel like a scared child all over again, at least once a year. I’ve cried and yelled and called my family out for what they’ve done since I found the courage to start speaking! I refuse to spend another holiday enduring the retraumatization my family encouraged for years.
It’s really really hard, but at the same time I finally feel like I have a soul. I’m no longer blaming myself for being “too cute” or wanting to “cuddle too much,” as my abuser explained while defending himself to our mothers. Hearing the stories of others made me uncomfortable in the beginning, but it gave me the strength to tell my story and finally acknowledge that it is NOT MY FAULT.
Thank you to all you brave souls who have the courage to speak out! You’ve brought me back to life.
— Survivor, age 27