I’ve sat down so many times to write my story and every time, the prospect is too overwhelming. It took me a few years to admit out loud my experience and honestly, a lot of my family still doesn’t know what happened to me.
But its time. Its time to share it.
The following is only a single puzzle piece of my story. The other pieces are still too tender to reveal. The pieces are too interconnected to the abuse stories of my other family members and it’s not my place to reveal their personal mountains.
But I can share this piece. So here we go.
As a child, I was repeatedly molested by a trusted adult.
Even now, in my mind I’m fighting the urge to downplay what happened to me. I’ve heard so many worse stories. But what happened to me was not ok and to this day has had lasting repercussions on how I handle life.
It all started at the age of 4, when my mother married my step-dad. At first, everything seemed to be a fairy tale. My mother, a recent abuse victim, had found a man to not only cherish her but help her raise her two children.
But even in the beginning, and at the tender age of 4, something felt off. The man, (we’ll call him Ted) immediately showed preference to me over my older brother. At first, I didn’t really think anything of it since my brother was hyperactive and I was the quiet calm one. But it started getting more and more evident. And then to make things worse, he stopped giving my mom attention and instead gave me all of his focus.
He would always ask to sit by me, to hold my hand, to snuggle me.
Me. The little daughter. Never my mom.
I never felt right with him. He would bribe me with presents or fun outings to get me close to him but I would just smile awkwardly and try to wiggle away from him. I honestly never even wanted to be near him.
I became very attached to my mom, never even wanting her to take a nap when my step-dad was home. I was that annoying kid who would watch the clock and wake her up after exactly one hour even though I knew with her medical condition, she needed sleep.
I didn’t want to be alone with Ted.
A few years passed, with the same small yet repeated paper cuts. He would constantly flirt with me. Rub my hand slowly. Watch me as I walked around the house. Talk to me about what married people do. (Thankfully, nothing too sexual)
I was a very quiet child. And I certainly didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings so I never confronted the issue. I didn’t even tell my mom.
Other people would comment about how his behavior with me was weird which of course, would make me feel even more embarrassed.
Then the other stuff started happening.
The paper cuts progressed. I was around 6. When it started.
It was always sneaky, never outright. But Ted would take every opportunity he could to touch me. Touch my chest, my bottom and… close to other parts.
I remember one instance in particular. I was on the swing and Ted was pushing me. Instead of pushing my back, (the logical place to push a child on a swing) he would push me from my bottom. Then with each push his hand would slide further and further towards… other parts. Even as a little child, I knew you did not need to slowly caress someone’s backside in order to get the swing to go higher.
But again, I was a quiet child who didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. So I tried my best just to maneuver in my seat so he couldn’t get access to anything. But he was pretty persistent. It only stopped when I hopped off the swing and ran to my older brother who was playing just a few feet away.
All of the incidents were basically like that one. He would volunteer to play something with me and somehow, he would find a way to touch me, even with my brother just a few feet away.
To this day, my brother has no idea that any of this happened to me. That’s how sneaky Ted was.
This behavior- the flirting, the sneaky touching- continued for years. YEARS. I felt disgusting walking around my own home.
Eventually, I found part of my voice and vocalized how I didn’t want to be alone with him or near him and luckily my mom and my brother both whole-heartedly supported me. I was 10.
The flirting didn’t stop but the touching did. Which was nice.
My mother also noticed the flirting and made Ted go to counseling with her.
Through the counseling process and other medical tests, we discovered that Ted had a medical condition where his mind just stopped maturing past the age of 6. This condition explained a lot of his personality qualities such as his intense fear of pretty much everything and his inability to rationally discuss anything. It also explained why he was more attracted to me instead of my mom.
Armed with this new information, we all got to work to fix our incredibly dysfunctional family.
Things got better.
And then things got worse.
Ted kept vying for my attention. He kept flirting. I kept feeling gross. As an 11 and 12 year old I would specifically change into baggy, layered clothes whenever I knew I would be near him.
The whole time Ted was in love with me, he hated, HATED my brother. Everything my brother did was annoying or destructive or just absolutely wrong. The verbal abuse ran the same course as my stuff and eventually, when my brother became a teenager, it bubbled into one terrifying display of physical abuse. I would explain more but it’s not my story to tell.
Two seconds later, my mom divorced Ted and got us out of the situation. Ok well technically, the whole divorce and moving process took a few months but she immediately put the process into action. She also became a mama bear and wouldn’t let Ted near either my brother or myself.
I was 13 when the whole nightmare finally came to an end. My grandmother lovingly took my mom, my brother and me in and even though my mom and I were stuffed into this teeny tiny room together- and we were absolutely broke- we were finally safe.
Unfortunately, nightmares don’t stop affecting your life once you manage to wake up.
My family as a whole was and honestly still is in the process of recovering.
I now suffer from anxiety and infrequent yet debilitating panic attacks. I also can not be alone or really near older men. Even as a 27 year old, older men still freak me out.
Life did get better, though. (Life has a way of getting better, I promise.) Every year my life tends to turn into more and more of a happily ever after.
My mom, my brother and I grew so close because of everything. We are by no means perfect, but we love each other so immensely and so patiently that we stand by each other through anything. And to me, that’s the ideal family.
I’m also married to the most amazing man in the world who, each day, patiently holds my hand as I fight to overcome the effects of my past.
So to conclude, what happened to me is pretty tame on the whole sexual abuse scale, but regardless of where it falls, it was still unacceptable. If someone is touching you or making you feel uncomfortable, even in small sneaky ways, that’s not ok. You have a right to get out of that situation, regardless of who the person is or how their feelings will be hurt. Be like 10 year-old me who voiced my concern and put my foot down, not like 4 year old me.
Your body is yours. Period.
As a side note, I have also completely forgiven Ted. I do wholeheartedly believe that he was fighting his own uphill battle and I do appreciate that he had the discipline to never do anything worse to me. However, I refuse to let him have any part in my life and have not spoken to him since the day we packed up the moving truck when I was 13.