I was 15 years old when I was sexually abused by a friends uncle. I was hanging out with my friend as we often did one night, we were only 15, but we had gotten a hold of a couple beers that night and were just having some innocent fun. Her uncle was 10 years older than us and she lived with him. At some point she got a phone call and left the room. Her uncle came in and started to talk with me. She was gone long enough for him to eventually take advantage of the opportunity to perform oral sex on me. How it even got to that point, I’m really not even sure. I wasn’t drunk by any means. One moment, he’s just taking to me and then he’s complimenting me and the next thing I know he’s taking my pants off and touching me. I never said no. I never told him to stop. This is where I have a hard time. For years I found it easy to blame myself because, “if I never said no, how did he know I didn’t want it?” How could it possibly be his fault? Only now, almost 10 years later and having listened to the stories of other survivors, do I have the courage to not only see the situation for what it was (sexual abuse), but also to begin to understand that I didn’t have to say no. He knew how old I was. He knew it was wrong. In the moment my fear kept me from saying anything. Then it was my embarrassment and shame that kept me from saying anything. I also was afraid of what my friend would do or say if I told her or anyone else (she still doesn’t know this happened). I have never before this moment told anyone what happened. I will always remember that time as one of my weakest moments. I think about it often. I can see it in my head like it happened yesterday. It has affected me in ways I wasn’t even aware of until recently. I’ve battled depression and anxiety, but that was there even before all of this happened so I had a hard time accepting that the abuse was affecting me the way it was-and still is. I try my hardest not to be a victim. In my case I think that sabotages my healing process sometimes because I refuse to acknowledge that it’s taken the toll that it has on me. I try to convince myself that I’m dealing and that I’m “over it.” But then just when I actually start to believe that, the depression hits and I’m back in that room with that man.
— Survivor, age 24