I was sexually assaulted by my father’s brother when I was eight years old. I didn’t understand what he was doing to me at the time. It wasn’t until I was a sophomore in high school that I told someone. My secret was out FINALLY. My family’s reaction was not what I expected. They said mean and ugly things about me and called me a liar. CPS investigators and counselors told my mom that this would be a very difficult situation for me because it happened so long ago and it was my word against his with no evidence. We left it in God’s hands. Talking to a therapist helped me to get over my fears and accept that not everyone is out to hurt me.
We went on with our lives and separated ourselves from that side of the family; it was actually a very peaceful time, no drama to deal with. However, a year later, my worst fear came to be. He had done it again. One of the reasons why I spoke out was because I was afraid that he would do this to my cousins. He had 3 stepdaughters and one biological daughter. The oldest stepdaughter accused him of doing the same to her. The DA had called my mom and told her that they wanted to use me as a witness in the case. I was sad that this happened but glad that he was going to go to trial. I was ready to testify, no matter the backlash from the family. I was ready to talk and it didn’t matter what they called me- I was not going to be silenced any longer. As suspected, when the family found out that we had been called and were willing to participate, they started making threats.
The case was rescheduled many times and during one of those times I was about 7 or 8 months pregnant with high blood pressure. My mom and I decided to ask the DA to reschedule because we didn’t want to risk the health of my baby and mine. Finally the trial was set for beginning of October 2011. I was ready for what was going to happen and although I was very nervous, I knew testifying was the right thing to do. We had met with the DA and my mom had kept in contact with him and he told us of all the disturbing things my uncle had done to this little girl. All the memories flooded back. I just wanted justice. He had to pay.
I was only going to be used in the punishment phase of the trial. When we walked in to court right before the verdict, I was shocked to see some of the family members that had claimed to “stand by me”, there supporting HIM. I was very disappointed but that wasn’t going to stop me. We sat there as they read each charge and the words “guilty” after each charge except one. Finally justice had been served and my step-cousin and I had been vindicated. October 4, 2011 I testified in front of the jury and my family during the punishment phase. Up on the stand, I was scared, but I told myself I had to be strong. The defense attorney tried to intimidate me, as is her job, but I stood strong. Finally, I was done and at that moment I felt so relieved. I felt like I didn’t have anything to be afraid of anymore. I didn’t care what my family was saying about me because I know I likely saved other little girl’s innocence and I know I did the right thing.
The trial didn’t end that day. We had to wait for the jury to come back with his punishment. A flood of emotions came over me when I got the call from my mom, ninety nine years! I was so happy because I knew he wasn’t going to hurt anyone anymore. I didn’t have to be afraid of him hurting me ever again. My family was still saying ugly things about me but that didn’t even matter anymore because I was raised to do the right thing. I feel like now I can talk to anyone about it without feeling ashamed. I will no longer be a victim, not his and not my families. The DA told my mom that the jurors came to him after the trial and expressed their gratitude towards me for speaking out. They appreciated my testimony and it made a big difference in their decision. They wanted me to know that they all applauded me for being brave. I will not be bullied and I will speak up against child molestation whenever I can.
Many girls are not able to speak up, but they need to know that there are many of us out there and there is no reason to be afraid or ashamed of the cowardly acts of these sick men. We are the strong ones. I thank God for the family and friends that have stuck by me through this; it is because of that support that I am strong and able to tell my story. My fiancé and I now have a little boy who is the joy of our lives. I am in school and I am happy with the way my life has turned out. I am moving on with my life and am finally at peace.