I was eleven when I became a statistic. A number in an array of people. One of many. I was crowded in with a group of many other people who also had become that same statistic. The statistic of sexual assault. Do you know that 15% of kids from the ages 12-17 have been sexually assaulted? How about the fact that someone is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds? You probably didn’t know that and unfortunately for me, I was forced to learn and become a part of that 15%. I was molested by a family friend which at the time, I’d known for four years. He became like an uncle to me. Although we didn’t share blood, I considered him family. I guess that was my first mistake. Trusting him too much. But after all, I was only eleven and I didn’t know any better. Now I do. I blamed myself for years after it happened. I was too attached to that night. I couldn’t move on. I couldn’t let it go. I was twelve when I first experienced the side-effects of being sexually assaulted. The nightmares, the panic attacks, the suicidal thoughts. My body had been invaded. Touched, squeezed, pinched beyond recognition. I didn’t want my body anymore. It was too ‘damaged’. I didn’t know what to do with myself. How does one resume natural activities after going through something like that? In my mind, you couldn’t. I secluded myself from everyone I knew. Family, friends, the person I once knew. I never told my family what had happened that night. I blamed myself. I let it get too far. I didn’t say “no” or “stop”. I just sat there not saying anything. I later learned that not being able to say anything is a normal reaction to something that traumatic, but that didn’t put my mind at ease. About a year or two after it happened, I slowly started getting better on my own. Everything was going great, but then, of course, the other shoe had to drop. It happened again. Like I mentioned before, I never told my family which meant that I had to keep seeing him. One night we were left alone and he molested me again. You must be thinking “This is one stupid girl”. She let it happen to her twice. Yeah, I think that too. One time is understandable. It hasn’t happened before so you don’t know how to act. But, twice?!?! I let it happen twice. That’s when everything went downhill. My life was in a constant state of spiraling. There was never a point where I was content with my life. For years, I struggled and struggled to get over what had happened. I accepted that it had happened, but I HATED talking about it. I could say, “Yeah, I was sexually assaulted”, but I could NEVER go into depth. There is a difference between saying something and actually believing it. In my case, I thought I had accepted what had happened because I could say it out loud, but in reality, I had never really accepted it. As time passed, things DID get better. The nightmares stopped, the panic attacks slowed down, the suicidal thoughts went away and I began thinking of my future. I was NOT going to let him take away my future, my life. I was going to embrace what had happened to me and although it was going to be hard, I was going to learn to live with it. And, I did. Everyone out there who may be feeling as if getting sexually assaulted defines your whole life, it DOESN’T. Only YOU define your life and never let anyone tell you otherwise.
-Paige (Survivor, NOT Victim)