Although I was not raped until the age of 23 I need to start my story much earlier. When I was about 7 or 8, my older cousin, who was only one year older than me began touching me. At that age I don’t think I really understood what was happening. He would tickle, caress, and massage my feet, legs, shoulders. We were always together as kids being looked after by one set of parents, while the others worked. My memories of these times are extremely foggy, and I don’t know when it turned into something more, but I do have a few very vivid memories. Him pulling down his pants and making me hold and touch his penis. Him reaching from behind me and touching my nipples. As I got older I knew it was wrong but it had been so long that I did not know how to end it. I was so scared to tell anyone, for fear they would not believe me and I had just grown so accustomed to living with the secret that it became normal. I went to the same school with him, he lived just down the street from me. We were always together after school to be looked after by one of our parents, always had family events together, and shared friends. There was no getting away from him and I grew to be an actor. I smiled and laughed and joked whenever I saw him, pretending like everything was alright and eventually it felt like everything was alright. I had become so good at lying that I began lying to myself and believing it. The only times did I remember was when he was touching me. We never spoke when this happened, he would just touch me, I would stare straight ahead and just not be there for those moments. I got boyfriends, hoping he would leave me alone but it never worked. Finally I told my first serious boyfriend, who also grew up with my cousin, and he did not believe me. That was it, I knew I wouldn’t tell anyone else.
Finally at the age of 16, I was at home with the cousin who touched me, as well as another cousin (female), who is now my closest friend. We were watching a movie and he went and grabbed a blanket, put it over us and began to touch me so my other cousin would not see. I felt so disgusting and ashamed but did what I always did, stayed silent and waited for it to be over. Then my female cousin put her legs on top of my lap and he stopped. That was the last time he touched me. After that moment, realizing it took someone to physically block him (and she didn’t even realize it), to make me stay away from him.
Only a year later, I moved away for university. I think from my childhood experiences I learned to lie, act, as well as one of the most dangerous things – to not speak out. Because of this, when I was 23 (three months ago) I was at a bar, got very drunk and went home with my roommate. I passed out after puking everywhere in my own room. A guy came to the door who me and my roommate barely knew (an acquaintance of our friend) and asked to crash because he was too drunk to drive, which my roommate, thinking she was doing a good deed agreed to. She told him to sleep on the couch, but he snuck into my room in the middle of the night and crawled into my bed – that I had just puked on. I woke to him penetrating me. I was extremely confused, still drunk and scared. I thought maybe I had brought him home from the bar (which is VERY unlike me and I have a boyfriend……..) I remember putting my hand against his chest to push him away, which he ignored. I remember his hand around my neck, him turning me over and taking me from behind, and I remember him pulling out and kneeling over me and saying he would finish in my mouth. This is when I began to really freak out and so he finished on my stomach. I wiped it off with my blanket and don’t remember anything until morning.
I woke up very hungover and realized there was puke beside me. Then I remembered flashes from the night before and turned over in my bed to see him naked and asleep. I have never felt so scared in my life. I knew in my heart he raped me but I thought still that I had cheated on my boyfriend. He woke up and I said I was very confused and asked if we came home together, to which he replied yes, which was a lie. He also said that my roommate knew he was in my room and that we had slept together, which also was a lie. He then began to fondle my breasts and tried to initiate sex again. I told him no, because I was too hungover… (I couldn’t even tell him no because he was disgusting, or that he had raped me, or that he was in the wrong – I still could not speak out). Anyways, finally he left and I went to the hospital to get a rape kit done and charged him. I feel my childhood self is a little proud of me for at least telling someone about this, but I still feel like because of what happened to me as a kid I will never be able to be the strong, outspoken woman I wish I could be. One that stands up for herself and demands justice for what happened to her and to all the girls and boys out there who have to live with their struggles. Even now when I think about the fact that I could still tell someone about my cousin, I think of his mother who lost her first son to leukemia and I don’t want to hurt her anymore, and I think of my parents who would be so heartbroken to know I had kept it from them for all of these years, and then I think that perhaps it will tear my family apart and leave me mrs isolated, and worse still that no one will even believe me. I hate myself everyday for these things and constantly think of the other girls he may have done this to.. or maybe I was the only weak one.
— Survivor, age 23