With the explosion of the “Me, Too” movement and celebrities responding to allegations of sexual misconduct, feelings that I’ve repressed for years have started to creep to the surface. I never realized how much I have been affected by my sexual assault- until now.
Before the R. Kelly docuseries, there was an episode of Iyanla Fix My Life that triggered a surge of emotions. There was a mother who didn’t know that her son molested his younger sister. She didn’t find out until a few months before he died from sickle cell. It ripped the family apart. The sister tears streaming down her face, showed that she still could not fathom how he violated her in that manner. I found myself crying as she cried. I was triggered by the violation of it all. It tears you apart that someone you love and trust can hurt you in a way that leaves scars for a lifetime. It’s sad that more times than not, it’s your own who hurt you the most.
Aside from the “Me Too” movement, I’ve began to have my own struggles with what happened to me as a child. Nightmares are more prevalent. In them my abuser is taunting me. I find myself thinking more about it and even trying to think back to what all did occur- but I fail each time. Maybe it is too much for me right now or maybe I’ve buried it too deep. I thought it was something I could shake off and put in the back of my mind. But that hasn’t worked. One day I wrote a letter to my abuser. It was a relief to be able to purge it all on the paper. I let the anger and the hurt spill out and afterward I burned the letter. It lifted the burden a bit, but I know that I still have work to do.
I, like many women have been sexually abused by someone who I trusted and loved dearly. Which in hindsight, is why he had the gall to do it. I never told what happened until four years ago. I can hear people asking now- why’d she wait so long? There are several reasons why someone waits to tell—it could be fear stifling their voice, people may not believe them, or even because they are protecting their abuser. My reason was because I was fearful as to what would be said about me, my family and all the questions that come with such heavy accusations. I also knew that if my dad found out, the person responsible may not have a chance to continue living as if nothing has happened.
I told my Mother once I became pregnant with my first child—a girl. I had not planned to tell my mom. But one day she was talking with my cousin about sexual abuse and that was my opening. I interrupted and said that I knew what it felt like to deal with such trauma because I endured it. My mom was devastated. She was reeling from two emotions—disappointment because she felt she should’ve done more to protect me and anger because she felt betrayed that someone so close could do such a thing. I’m glad I shared it with my mom because now I’m the mother of a beautiful little girl- and I will fight tooth and nail to protect her.
Seeing several episodes of the R. Kelly docuseries brought more feelings to the forefront. One day at work, a coworker mentioned that she watched the episodes and couldn’t understand how these women waited to tell what happened to them. I told her I completely understood because I’ve experienced sexual abuse as a child. People don’t realize that when someone goes through such trauma, their world is turned upside down. I felt shame and embarrassment. I could do nothing about what he did. But I can encourage people to have compassion when victims gain the courage to speak out. Whether it happened yesterday, fifteen or twenty years ago. It’s not easy to come forward.
The abuser needs to be held accountable or they will think they are invincible. My abuser may feel that way because he isn’t being held accountable. Yet for me justice has been done, because he is nothing and has nothing. What I do hope for is that one day, I can truly muster up the strength to confront him. To show him that he did not break me. That I remember what he did and how he broke my trust. I refuse to be a victim and let these feelings take me out of the person I’ve grown to become. It’s not conducive to my growth and everything I am working toward. I have a nice job, I’m in school for my master’s degree and I am a damn good mother. He cannot take that away.
It’s hard when new stories are surfacing every day. Sometimes it knocks me back a few steps and it puts me right back in a somber state. But I know I must stay strong for my daughter. I will shield my daughter and educate her on the bad people of the world. I will make sure to encourage her to tell me everything that happens. Because I am not here to judge, just to love and protect her from negligent forces that prey on her innocence. For other women going through something as serious as sexual abuse, assault or harassment: I would recommend doing things that are positive. Engaging in activities that protect your energy and peace. Stay focused on your passion.
Women are strong, resilient and brave. I will continue to be that, until the day I leave this earth.
But if you’re hurting beyond what you can bear seek help immediately
With a counselor (if you can afford it) or someone who you know you can confide in and will listen. Know that it’s ok and some days will be better than others- but you are strong and will get through it.
As for where I am on my journey, I am taking things day by day. I have days where my mood is affected because I’ve had a dream that I just can’t shake. So I am trying to remain focused on what I can control. I pray, write, read and listen to music. Most of all I find inspiration daily regarding being a woman and living in my truth. I’m not broken or bitter. I am better, beautiful and blossoming every day.
For all the women out there that have been violated: I stand with you and I pray that you are healed daily.