I know it is hard to share this burden, to deal with it again and again, to listen to stories that are triggering of the PTSD and to try to help the whole world and feel overwhelmed. I hope you will give yourself a chance to take a break when needed, but also stay with this movement in the long run. The louder we speak out about what happened, and the more often, the more likely we are to be heard, and to be joined by others.
I was molested by my own father for most of my life. He was a very violent man, and I knew I did not own anything in the house I grew up in – not even any part of my own body. I was his property, a slave for him to use in any way he wanted, to force to do things whenever he felt like it, to take earnings or property from at a whim. My mother had a severe form of cancer when I was little, and so he used that opportunity to make me his substitute. The worst part was, he was only gentle around me during the molestation, for some reason giving me orgasms and thinking he was being thoughtful, when really he was terrorizing me and destroying my life. He would come into my room when I was asleep and lay on top of me, suffocating me. I still have trouble falling and staying asleep because of this, as well as a phobia of not being able to breathe, and nightmare after nightmare about it. He then made me the enemy in the family, repeatedly calling me a liar and saying I had “ulteri or motives” to anything I ever said, repeating with the family that I was the cause of all of their problems – even though I was the youngest and just a tiny innocent girl. It worked – the entire family came to hate me so much that by the time I could speak out for myself, no one believed me. I tried to tell my mother from the time I was 5, but she did not want to hear about it. When I was 10, I was trying to tell her again and she said, “That didn’t happen. And if it did, you wanted it, you are a sick little girl to want your father like that.” I didn’t want anyone, my less my evil father who was always giving me bruises! I was only 10 for God’s sake! I tried to kill myself that year, after planning it for 3 years (starting at only 7). When I couldn’t go through with it and told my mother, sobbing because I was afraid I would do it again because I had no way out of that life, she told me that I would go to prison if I ever did it or spoke about it again. She said that crazy people were bad and had to be locked up. So at 10, I began to also fear I would be put in prison for life for remembering what was happening to me.
I survived living in that house – much to my surprise! – and left that family forever at 18. I went on to speak out to parents who had had their kids taken away because of their abuse, and to counsel hundreds of other survivors. I told many people, including those close to my father, about what happened. Many did not believe me, or said it was so long ago – why talk about it now? Better to just get over it. But severe PTSD makes that impossible. And I shouldn’t have to, just pretend my life isn’t important to make other people feel better! It is my life, and my truth, and I will speak it as loudly and as often as I want to. The silence is what made me a victim in the first place.
I could not prosecute, because there was no physical evidence and by the time I really realized this was wrong and that it has really happened to me, the statute of limitations had ended. I believe he is a risk, so I have told everyone near him, and I pray to God that he never has the chance to be around children. Or anyone, really. My mother stayed with him, she lived and chose “security” with a man over me. I don’t know how she can sleep in the same bed with him. I have no contact with any of them now.
But I am not alone. My best friend was raped by a cop she met in a bar. She never reported it because she was going to college in a small town, and she felt that he was more powerful than she was. She also felt guilty because she had gone home with him and was doing some making out partially clothed. She did not want to go further, but when he forced her, she blamed herself. She began cutting. My uncle was molested by a priest. His mother suspected, but no one ever did anything. To this day he is a very angry man. Another friend was drugged and gang raped when she went out clubbing a year ago. She reported and I think did a rape kit, but has never told me anything about it since – I think she wants very much to forget, she doesn’t want this to define her. None of us do, but it does in some sense anyway.
Another friend’s father was in a band, and there were a lot of drugs and partying. No one was paying attention, so a band member molested her as a child. She told her mother, but then never told anyone else because she feared her father would kill the man and then go the prison. So neither of them ever told anyone else, although her mother believed her. Another friend lives in a country where women do not have much recourse if they are assaulted. She made a male friend, but did not want to get involved romantically because she wanted a career. She expected to be a virgin until marriage. This man said he loved her, so she spent time with him alone because she needed the love. But then he dragged her to an isolated place and raped her, and she became pregnant. She was very brave to tell a friend and have an abortion, in a country where virginity is important and there is no prosecution for rapists. But it left her physically damaged and very emotionally scarred. I don' ;t know that she will ever want to marry after this, or trust any man ever again.
I have been assaulted many many times by many people, and I used to just freeze and start to have flashbacks and do nothing. But now I am angry. When I was traveling in another country, and did not speak the language, I was alone on a mountainside when a young man approached me. He was being friendly, smiling and offering me a piece of fruit, but I wanted to be left alone. I tried to walk away, and he grabbed me and started trying to take my clothes off. I fought him as hard as I could, but he was stronger. I relaxed a little and pretended he had tired me out, so he relaxed his grip, and I jumped up and bolted away from him, running down the mountainside screaming for help all the way (fortunately I had learned that in the language before going). I was all scratched up, my clothes were torn, and I got his DNA on me everywhere – even a disgusting long fingernail stuck under my ring – thinking I could report him. But it was a small town in a country not very good at prosecuting offenders, and so while villagers wanted to help me and go look for him, they were not going to report it to any authorities, and so I left the town, and the whole country, in a hurry. I now am ready any time – if you want a fight, you got one. I’m not going to go down quietly, I will tear your skin off your face with my bare hands – I have absolutely nothing to lose anymore and am not afraid. I feel sorry for the next man who assaults me, because I will treat him as if he is all the last 20 men put together.
The last encounter I had was just about 3 years ago, a teenage boy broke into my yard in broad daylight. I had just been hospitalized and was disabled at the time. He came to steal, but I didn’t know what else he was going to do. I started screaming at him at the top of my lungs so many horrible things that I frightened the life out of him – about how I was going to kill him, I was not afraid, I would dump his dead body in the swamp, he would never see daylight again – he dropped the things in the yard and ran, and I kept screaming the awful things as loud as I could the whole time he ran. I filed a report, but he was never caught. I like to think though that he will think twice for the rest of his life before violating a seemingly helpless woman’s space.
The worst thing that ever happened to me is hard to talk about. I fell in love and married a man who was very kind, and trustworthy. I put him through many tests, and he passed them all. After 14 years of marriage, he called me one day and my whole world fell apart. He said he had been fired from his job because they found child porn on his computer, and the FBI had been called. 14 years of telling this man my whole life, him comforting me through flashbacks, him saying he was angry at my father for what he did. He swore he was not interested in it, it just came with a package he downloaded on the internet of lots of different kinds of porn photos all together. He said this was cheaper than going to mainstream sites, and that’s why he did it. Apparently, he had a porn addiction (he said to adult porn) – a total surprise to me because our whole relationship he said porn was demeaning and refused to look at it! Then he said he wanted to tell me himself so I did not find ou t another way if there was a trial, that when he was 13 he molested his little sister. He said he didn’t know any better, but he was 13… when I was 13 I certainly knew not to have sexual relations with my brothers! And his entire family never told me, even though they knew my story! Worse, he told me that he had a talk with his younger sister and “they agreed” not to tell me when we got engaged, because I might not marry him if I knew. You got that right!! The betrayal is immense… I then understood why she moved out of the country and started a new life – her family had not done anything either, accept the father had yelled at him and told him never to do it again. That’s it.
So this person, now my ex, had the nerve to try to drain our bank account for his defense, and gave me extensive instructions on how to post bail if he were arrested. Yeah, except I would leave him to rot in there! I looked extensively but never saw any evidence that he really was attracted to children. He destroyed his computer but I checked the new one and there was never anything on it. The FBI dropped the charges, likely because they have bigger fish to fry, like people who create and distribute the porn. I divorced him, but lost my health in the process, my immune system collapsed after all the strain and shock. Truthfully, I will never trust any man again as long as I live, as sad as that is to say. I can have friends, but will never have another one so close to me again. Men are not all bad, but enough of them are, and I am too fragile to live through another violation of my own family member. I have already lost 2 entire families in just one young lifetime. I can' ;t do it again.
We need to keep speaking out. The shame and the silence is what causes this abuse and behind-doors violence to continue. I wish this never happened to me, but I am glad for the people it brought me close to.