Any sexual/intimate act should only happen if you agree to it.
If all the people who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me too” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.
I was 4 years old when my innocence was stripped from my soul right along with my red-ruffled “Day of the Week” panties that were stripped from my naked toddler body. The teenaged son of my parents’ friend, along with his raging hormones, was supposed to watch over me until my mother returned from work that evening. The things that occurred in that dark, cold house could not be accurately processed by my still-developing mind, but I knew that they were very wrong. And I also knew, or was manipulated into believing rather, that if I were to speak a word about what happened, I would be in a lot of trouble. I was forced to believe that I would somehow be “in trouble” for having my body desecrated by the hands of a monster. That is a lot to process for a four year old, and even more to keep buried deep within. The toxicity I entombed by remaining silent ate away at the remaining bits of my soul, long into my teenage years and even into adulthood, as I have now come to realize. This single event, along with other traumatic experiences in my adolescence, led me spiraling down a path of self-torture.
Fast forward to high school years and my self-abuse was now being accompanied by drug use and promiscuity. Each slice of the razor blade upon my flesh, and each hand that I allowed to touch my delicate skin, was an attempt to feel something more than what I had been feeling for years. Those self-inflicted wounds were silent cries for help from a mouth that had been sewn shut for far too long. They were not ploys for attention from a spoiled child as they were believed to be. I just wanted to feel loved, and at the same time, I just wanted to numb the heartache that I could never speak of. The mind of a victim is quite the paradox.
I was around 16 when I experienced my second sexual trauma. As I mentioned previously, I was making some very poor choices, which included going out to parties with much older crowds (of some pretty sketchy people, might I add), drinking, selling and taking drugs, etc. I was asked by my friend to accompany two men (who were friends of hers at the party) to the store to pick up some more alcohol. I guess I was security that they would return to the party and not run off with the money they were given to make the purchase. While they did, in fact, end up running off with the money, they also ran off with my blood on their hands, and with the little bit of dignity that remained within me.
While I will spare you the gruesome details, I will simply say that I was brutally raped by those two men that night after being given some type of “date-rape drug” that rendered me partially unconscious and unable to move or cry for help. As I began regaining consciousness, I was punched in the head so hard that I was knocked out again. While my body was still fighting to come to, I was pushed out of a truck on side of the road a block away from the party and left there like a pile of rotting garbage. A friend saw me lying there and, I would imagine, assumed that I was just intoxicated and that I fell, causing injury to myself. Although they could see the knot that had formed on my head, and a few cuts, scrapes and bruises, they could not see the other damage inflicted upon me. In fact, no one ever would. I kept it all a secret in fear that no one would believe me anyway, as that had been my experience when I attempted to break the silence about my childhood trauma.
I thought my life couldn’t get much worse, but I was mistaken. This pain that I kept hidden was eating me alive and the drugs were no longer helping to numb it. The choice to remain silent forced me into a deep depression and I spiraled completely out of control. The winding staircase to my own personal hell led to the birth of a heroin addict, but also to the rebirth of a warrior.
In a society where “rape culture” is still very much alive, it is imperative that we teach our youth the importance of speaking out against their abusers. And as adults, it is equally vital for parents and other influential persons in a child’s life, to understand and recognize the signs of a child who is silently pleading for help.