Reading through tweets and stories of beautifully spirited women, sharing their unfortunate stories of pain always makes me think.
I ask myself, “Why am I still afraid to share my story?” The #metoo movement has created a platform where women that have experienced some form of sexual assault can be open to their fellow sisters, many of whom have also shared their pain.
While I sit there and applaud each woman for allowing their voice to be heard, I grow anxious about sharing mine.
My story has been private for a long time because I choose not to relive the pain I had once felt when my virginity was stolen from me. I remain defensive when jokes about rape are made. I choose to switch off the television when movies have a scene that is remotely close to something that still brings me excruciating pain. Even writing this personal post gives me anxiety, but I felt something in me to share how it is I am finally dealing with my pain.
Being four years old, you think of innocence and happiness. You think of playing with your Barbies or pretending to be on a safari adventure. You would never think of when you were raped. I was four years old when my abuser harmed me. He was the son of my babysitter at the time. He was older than 20 and I had trusted him. He would always show me attention and buy me candy from the store. I was a child and none of the warning signs occurred to me, how could they? I was four.
Til’ this very day I remember, vividly, this piece of my childhood, the most. Now, I won’t go into details (so to not cause triggers for others), but once he finished after my cries and kicking, he told me to never tell anyone because they would never believe me. He told me I was a pretty little girl and gave me a cookie to keep quiet. Although I remained quiet, my spirit wasn’t. I laid awake every night crying and afraid for men to come near me. I am thankful that after that day, I never saw him again. But, my parents never knew what had occurred.
The fear of being raped again happened when I was 12 years old. My body went through puberty a little earlier than my classmates and I started to develop curves. I was walking home from a friend’s house when a car pulled up next to me. In the car was a group of older boys, around high school age. They wanted me to get in the car with them and when I refused they began to grow angry. Sensing the danger, I ran home crying and never looked back. From that point on, out of fear, I went a different route home. These occurrences never stopped, now as a woman, I receive unwarranted attention daily. I have been followed home and catcalled by men old enough to be my father.
My biggest fear when moving to New York (a new city?) was experiencing the same pain I had endured as a four-year-old girl. I used to be so skeptic of every new environment I was in.
I, unfortunately, allowed my fear to consume me, in every way possible. My level of anxiety grew and it became unhealthy to the point where I didn’t want to walk home from work at night. Then something changed in me to be stronger. Realizing as I continue to live in fear, I would not thrive. Now, it is not easy dealing with pain from the past, but it is where I needed to head to first. I needed to confront why I felt scared of every environment that was new to me and why my fear of being raped again was growing constant.
I needed to open up about it and seek help to feel at peace. To remind myself that I need to remain strong and aware. Discussing it with someone I love helped to encourage me to heal. It brought me peace to the fact is, I am not a four-year-old victim anymore. I am a woman who will no longer be afraid of life. Now, as I write this to you readers, I pray it encourages at least one of you to know this.
You are no longer a victim and it is okay to still feel the pain. Seek guidance and don’t let the pain harden you. Don’t disguise your pain, don’t neglect it, and don’t let it keep you from life. Seek help and open up because once you do, I promise you will feel a burden being lifted from your soul.