It all started when I was 7 living in Belgium and the older teen son of family friends raped me. The memories of that event were merely quick flashes that would race through my mind constantly, making it so hard to concentrate in school. I moved to CT in the middle of 3rd grade in 1971 and felt shame of being lousy in school, dirty from being violated, and ended up victimized by bullies and molested by my brother for the next 8 years. My brother was never violent with me. On the contrary, he was very good at manipulating me, using his “love” for me as his weapon. I was already feeling unwanted, unloved, ashamed, powerless, and unable to distinguish what really love was. He used that to his sick advantage so effectively that when he went into the navy when I was close to 15, I felt abandoned! Someone once told me to stop living in the past. My response was “I’ll stop living in the past when the past stops living in m e.” The shame of the rape, the bullying and the molestation continue to live inside me but I find that the more I share my story, the less power the memories have over me and the more I feel that I am getting past being a survivor and living as a thriver. My heartfelt goal is to mentor fellow survivors.
— Helen, age 51