I am a 34 year old child abuse survivor. My abuse began when I was 4 years old and lasted until I was 12. I noticed that my step-father was paying special attention to my little cousin, which I now know is called “grooming”. I decided to end my abuse and hopefully protect her by going to the guidance counselor at school.
I waited until the last minute that I could possibly wait. I went to the teacher and asked for a pass. Then I took the longest walk of my life down the hall. I was unsure of how to start the conversation. I opened the door and met her there. I simply said, “I need to talk to you.” She took me in her office and I exposed a secret that I never thought that I would be able to share.
The next few hours and even days were a bit of a blur. I had to speak with workers from the department of social service (DSS), a victim’s advocate, two police officers, and a room full of detectives. Later I had to share my story with my father and the prosecutor assigned to my case. I thought that the times of repeating my story would never end, but it did. Not only that, I now had support from the victim’s advocate, DSS worker, prosecutor, my father, and several friends and family.
Over the years, sharing my story has become easier. In the beginning it was hard to speak about it. But I found that opening up about the things that happened to me made it easier. I began to heal. Finding out that I was not alone and that I was not the only one that had been sexually abused as a child made me feel much better. In the beginning I felt that people would stare at me and see that I had been abused. Now I know that the only way they know is if I tell them. I have actually made some strong friendships over the common ground of being abused.
When someone talks about my past or I speak about the past, I no longer tell people that I am a victim of child sexual abuse, because I am only a victim if I let my step-father’s abuse consume me. I just consider myself a survivor of CSA. I consider myself to be a person who is thriving despite my sexual abuse.
It’s been 30 years since my abuse began and there are times that it still crosses my mind. A familiar sound, smell, or topic of conversation sometimes bring back memories of the events that took place, but I have learned to handle those feelings that come up with the help of a great therapist that I have been seeing for the past four years or by talking with family and friends.
I know that it may seem like you are alone in this, but you aren’t. There are many people out there, myself included, that have been abused as a child. There are many of us that are willing to share our stories, help you share yours, and support each other when we need support. The first step to recovery may seem scary and hard, but you are strong enough to handle it. Proof is that you are reading this looking for something to help you. I know that you may not feel strong, but deep inside you is a person that is reaching out for help. There are those who are out there to help you.
I am a RAINN speaker and I know that there are people at RAINN that would love to help you in your journey.