I moved to another country when I was seven. It was like I succeeded in getting away from the past. But, that wasn’t how it turned out to be. Even in a new place with new people, it kept haunting me.
The place where it all happened was in my home country. I didn’t tell my parents until I was 16. I kept it for so long because of the self blame. I was scared that they wouldn’t accept me and that they would be in danger due to the negative views of the public. “Oh what a dirty child they have,” is what I thought of myself and of how people would view me.
I say that I was raped at the age of seven, but I am actually not sure. I only say seven, as this was my age when I left my home country. The first memory I have is this man. He was one of my friend’s dad. He had three kids and I was friends with two of them. He lived up on my street and so, I’d see him from time to time. I didn’t think much of him until he did things to me.
It began with my friend asking me to come over and play. She was two years older than me and was unaware of anything happening. He asked if she and her siblings could go ahead and do something for awhile (I always assumed they had to buy something). He told me to stay. I didn’t know why. The next thing I know is him shutting the door. He stood me up on a stool and pulled my pants down. He raped me. He told me to never tell and that it was our little secret.
I assumed that the males in my street knew, because it happened again. However, this time, it was someone new. Three people in that street raped me. Not once, but several occasions. My memory isn’t familiar with the sequences of events. I didn’t know what or which happened first – of who raped me first. But it started with one of them. The other two were young adults. They were my uncles. Both of them would hide me in their home when nobody was there and perform sexual penetration.
All of these traumatic experiences were hidden inside my little body. I remember throwing a pair of panties away because I was bleeding. I was so scared. So ashamed. As a child, I thought everything was my fault. I questioned men who came near me and people who complimented me. I didn’t feel worthy.
To this day, I battle with these feelings. They have decreased from time and from support. The first person I told was my best friend – we were 14 at the time. She told me that I have to tell my parents. Who knew if they did this to other kids? she said. I told her I would, but I just wasn’t ready.
My breaking point was when I had an English teacher who was open to rape discussions, as she herself, was a survivor. We were studying a book that involved this issue and thus, she talked about her experiences to us confidently. Some were very stunned to hear her story. Whereas, for me, it was a trigger point – every time I’d step into that room, my eyes would burst as she spoke of rape. I sat in the front seat, towards the right side of the room. I would always take that seat because it was next to a wall. Meaning, I could hide my crying face.
I saw an opportunity to tell her when we had a creative writing assessment. It was very vague, but she asked me at the end of one class of what it is I want to share. I told her. She told me the exact thing as my best friend; “It’s not your fault. Please tell your parents.”
One evening, my dad picked me up from work. He asked me how my day was and I completely began to bawl my eyes out. I told him. He hugged me. And then, we told my mum. At this point, I only shared one rape experience – my friend’s dad.
Last thursday (31st of March) was the darkest time of my life. I wanted to hurt myself, but I didn’t know why. I shared this with my boyfriend. He drove over to me and tried to help. That following wednesday, I opened up to my mum about the rest of the story. She now understands me and tries her best to comfort me.
— Alex, age 18