When I was 12 years old, my 18 year old cousin lived with us for a while. For months he would sneak into my room in the middle of the night or just get me alone for a few minutes to do whatever he felt like. He would force himself in my mouth, kiss me, touch me or make me touch him. He did everything but rape me because it hurt and I would be on the verge of tears. He would forcefully grab me or push my head in whatever direction he wanted to scare me into doing things. Eventually he moved out and it stopped. I told my mom a few years later, and while he admitted that he did “something,” he says it wasn’t that serious, that all he did was kiss me. His sister constantly asks me to get over it, because kissing isn’t a big deal. I try to tell my family what he really did, that it was much more than kissing but no one wants to hear it. No one will listen but everyone wants me to move on.
When I was 20, I went over to a co-worker’s house. We had a drink together. I didn’t see him make my second drink, I just remember taking a sip or two and telling him it tasted funny. He laughed and the room started spinning. I could hear him laughing at me as I stood up and then fell. Then darkness. I don’t remember. I’m not sure what he did, or how long he raped me for. But I regained consciousness while he was raping me anally. I pretended I was still knocked out. I was scared. Horrified. Ashamed. Disgusting and I just felt foolish. Some time after he was done, I got up and left. I drove home, big fat tears rolling down my cheeks while I contemplated driving my car into a ditch. I wondered how hard it would be to hang myself, did I remember how to use my dad’s gun? What would be the quickest way to go. It was the longest drive of my life. I didn’t tell anyone, mainly because I was ashamed. Also because I just wanted to pretend it didn’t happen.
A few weeks later I met a guy, who I started dating and eventually moved in with. He became extremely angry and constantly had violent outbursts. He started lifting his hand as if he were going to hit me or pick something to throw at me, but never actually did it. I could tell he liked to see me flinch. He started beating my dog, a lot. Screaming at him and just beating the crap out of him. I was too scared to interfere. I flinched every time he was upset and came near me, he would just laugh and say “Why are you flinching, I have never laid a hand on you. You can never tell anyone that I hit you.” It was a sick mind game in which he always the winner. Eventually my dog and I were able to leave. A few weeks after I left I spent the weekend at my parent’s house. My grandfather was living there at the time. I was taking a nap, and woke up to his tongue in my mouth and his hands on me. I screamed and pushed him off. I ran out of the room to find my dad. My dad screamed at him and questioned him, but it didn’t matter because he didn’t know who I was. He had Alzheimers, didn’t even remember me. But that didn’t matter to me, I still despised him because I knew that throughout his life he had sexually assaulted many different women including one of his other granddaughters.
I didn’t report anyone. I wish I would’ve told someone who could’ve helped me. Anyone that could’ve done something about it. I wish people would listen to me. I wish people would understand that I need my story to be heard, I need you to know that this isn’t okay, that this is hard. That I live in constant fear everyday that because I didn’t do anything, another woman is going to get hurt. I’m only 25, I fear that this is going to happen to me again. I need you to know that everyday is an intense battle to get out of bed, to act normal, to try and make it through the day without a breakdown. I need you to know that I will forever have internal scars and self harm scars. I need you to know that this has changed my entire life and that I will never be the same person again.
— Debora, age 25