I am a survivor.
I remind myself every morning that I am a survivor.
A survivor is a person who survives, especially a person remaining alive after an event in which others have died. In this case, the event was sexual assault, and the person who died; was a six-year-old girl’s sense of peace.
Though the event occurred many years ago, the details of it are etched in my memory. How vulnerable I felt, every touch against my virgin skin, and the distinct smell of cigarettes and booze that tainted their breath.
The men who were supposed to look after me and protect me, were the ones causing me the most harm. And how was I supposed to protect myself against something that I didn’t even know was happening.
I endured multiple acts of sexual assault until I was seven and my family moved to a different state. The trauma was bottled inside me and as I got older I had more knowledge of the crimes committed against me.
Throughout the years, I’ve heard of many rape cases and many of the victims were blamed for what happened to them. “She shouldn’t have dressed the way she did,” or “that’s what she gets for dressing that way,” were common things that I heard. This made me want to remain silent about the events even more.
But what blame could you give to a little girl? Shame her for wearing skirts? Shame her for wearing tank tops?
What blame could you give a little girl who didn’t even know what puberty was, let alone the concept of sex?
It was hard for me to come forward with my story for years; but once I did, I saw that I was not alone. Knowing that troubled me and it also comforted me. It troubled me because of how often these crimes occur, and it comforted me because someone else knew how I was feeling.
I share my story because I want women to know that there are people who understand that feeling of emptiness, that feeling of restlessness, the feeling you don’t really even know how to describe anymore. I share my story because I want women to know that they are not alone.