A Survivor Breaks the Silence

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One out of five women is sexually assaulted at some point in her life. Most of the time, it’s a family member, friend or acquaintance that commit these horrendous acts.  Unfortunately, when I was eight, I became one of those statistics.  My uncle, my father’s brother, was the perpetrator.

When a child is at that innocent age, they don’t really know what’s right from wrong, good from bad. They trust their loved ones.  A loved one isn’t supposed to harm them, so how can it be wrong?  Then later, when they become aware that it is bad, the shame sets in.

I didn’t understand what he was doing to me at the time. I didn’t know what it was and why he was doing it to his own niece. I only distinctively remember three different occasions when it happened and those memories are so clear as if they happened to me yesterday. I never told one person in my life about the abuse, I acted like if it never happened, I guess to a point I tried to block it.  If I didn’t think about it, then it never happened; however, it was always there.

When I was a sophomore in high school, my boyfriend at the time and I were arguing about keeping secrets from each other. I told him that I had a really big secret that I’ve never told anyone before. He begged and begged me to tell him and I couldn’t tell him because I was so afraid of what he was going to think of me after and I didn’t know exactly how to tell him. To make it easy on me, I text him my big secret, my secret was out FINALLY.  He was the very first person I told. As scary as it was, the heavy weight that I had been carrying for 7-8 years had been lifted off my shoulders the moment I told him and I was relieved.

However, I still felt shame and was unable to tell my mom.  He was the one that told her. We asked to go to Starbucks and he got off with her as I waited in the car.  I’m sure she was pretty confused by all this and suspected another kind of surprise.  After he told her, she ran back to the car crying and as we both cried and hugged she told me she was sorry it happened to me. I can only imagine that this is a mother’s worst fear and my mother was living it.

When we went back home, my mom told my dad and then called my grandma and told her what I had just confessed to them and told her that we would be reporting it to the police.  The reaction my family had was not what I expected at all. I thought they would be supportive and not choose sides but I was completely wrong. They said mean and ugly things about me and called me a liar. I couldn’t believe what they were saying and I didn’t know why they would think I was lying. To them it was like I woke up that morning and decided to blame a family member for molesting me. After that day, my dad’s family and I didn’t talk.

A brief background on my uncle, he’s been in and out of jail most of his life.  He’s a drug user and wife beater. He has always disrespected my grandmother and has never held a job in his life.  His means of income is drug money, stuff he would steal and sell, and an occasional mechanic job.  However, this was the man that my family was defending while calling me a liar.  I had no reason to lie. I was raised with morals and values and have always respected my elders.  But in this case I was the bad one.

CPS, investigators and counselors were involved.  All of them told my mom that this would be a very difficult situation for me as is for most victims of sexual abuse. More so because it happened so long ago and it was my word against his with no evidence.  Already having to endure my family’s insults and drama they were causing, my mom decided not to go forward with the case, since there was no guarantee that anything would come of it.  Not wanting to cause me anymore pain and just wanting to move on, we left it in God’s hands.

My mom did insist that I continue seeing my therapist because before I spoke out, I was always lashing out at people and had anger problems to deal with.  My therapist helped me so much; I felt like my attitude changed, I felt like a new Anna was born. Talking to her helped me because I was always afraid of being alone with any man especially family members, my dad, uncles, cousins or grandpas. I felt uncomfortable, as if they were just staring at me, with that intent.  I was able to get over that fear and now I know that, although I have to be aware of people, not everyone is out to hurt me. I’m able to trust again.

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