#WhyIDidntReport, Rape, Sexual abuse, sexual assault, Uncategorized

There Were Seven

lrg_dsc01009-1There were seven. Seven people who sexually assaulted me throughout my life. Not all were men. None were strangers. Not one of them was ever held accountable. Some have never been reported, not even to my closest friends –and probably never will be. Some happened decades ago. The first happened before I was a year old.

Just because they were not reported, does not mean they did not happen. It does not mean they did not alter my life. It does not mean that things were not stolen from me. It does not mean that I am a liar. Every survivor of sexual assault has a right to their story. Every survivor has a right to report when they are ready, or not at all.

Every survivor matters. 

You matter.

You are believed.

You are trusted.

You are strong.

You are not alone.

You are loved.

#MeToo, #WhyIDidntReport, Rape, Sexual abuse, sexual assault

#WhyIDidntReport

#WhyIDidntReport

I was 15 and a virgin when he raped me. I told him no, but he didn’t listen. I cried. I cried while he was inside me. I cried when he left, as shame held me hostage in my bed. I wanted to shower, to get it off me, but I couldn’t move.

My world went dark, as depression took over. Suicide was the only way out. It was the only way I knew to stop the pain. When my obituary was found, my plan was foiled. I couldn’t end the pain, I had to learn to live with it, with the secret of that night.

When my mom found out I had sex, she called me a dirty whore. When my social worker from the Department of Child Services found out, he made me go on the pill –because I was promiscuous.

No one would have believed me.

I was too afraid to go to court to testify against him. I didn’t want to look at him. I was already in court with my stepfather for sexually abusing me. I just couldn’t go through another trial.

I was 15.

I was afraid.

I was ashamed.

I didn’t even tell my best friend.

I couldn’t tell anyone.

I thought it was my fault.

I thought I asked for it.

I thought I could have made him stop.

I was 15.

#WhyIDidntReport

#MeToo, Rape, Sexual abuse, sexual assault, Uncategorized

“Honey, He Raped You.”

“You know you wanted it.” His voice blasted through the phone as memories of those nights flashed in my mind. My silence enraged him. “You begged me for it! Make sure you tell them that.”

So I did.

I was afraid of what might happen to me if I told the truth. It was easier in my fifteen-year old mind to do as he said so it could be over, and I could move on with my life. I hadn’t meant to tell anyone in the first place. My intention was to end my life…so I really and truly could be done with it.

I sat at my mom’s word processor in her living room as I typed my obituary. I wanted the world to know who I was when I was gone. I knew no one knew me well enough to write it, and the thought of what they might have written made me want the end to come even faster. I imagined it to go something like this:

Jessica Aiken-Hall, 15 of Lyndonville, VT was a failure. She failed at everything. And now she is dead.

I was pleased with the words I was to leave behind. I didn’t want to make anyone feel guilty about my death. I didn’t really think any further than the pain would end. I would not be able to fail at life any longer. But I failed at that as well.

My obituary fell out of my notebook onto my mom’s floor. I was taken out of class and brought directly to my counselor’s office. The burn of humiliation flushed my body as my social worker drove me to her office. I even failed at killing myself. You can’t get any lower than that.

In my counselor’s office she asked me “why?” Her genuine concern for my wellbeing might have been what saved my life. I tried to lie my way out of it, but she wouldn’t allow it. She pressed until she got to the truth.

“I had sex…I didn’t want to. I said no, but I wasn’t strong enough to make him stop.” The tears blinded me as I looked down at my feet. I didn’t really know then, that this was the reason behind my suicide plan. I just knew I was done with feeling worthless, and the shame from the “sex” lowered me to an all new level of self loathing.

“Honey, he raped you.”

Raped me?

She went on to tell me that I had to tell the police, and there would be a trial. Panic rushed over me. I couldn’t go through another trial. I was still in the midst of the one with my step-father. I didn’t have another one in me. She begged me to tell the truth, but I couldn’t.

I was brought to the police station, where I was interviewed. “So, tell us what happened, Jessica.”

He came over to my room, after Gram was asleep, and we talked for a few hours. Then, he kissed me. He pulled off my pants and underwear and pushed me onto my bed. He turned off the lights and then he unbuckled his belt and pushed his pants to his ankles and got on top of me. I told him “no,” but he didn’t listen. He put his hand over my mouth and told me to “Shush.” I was scared, but the pain helped keep the fear away. I felt the warmth of my tears fall down my cheeks as he thrust inside me. When he kissed me, all I could taste was his Wintermint gum. The smell of his leather jacket filled my room. I wanted to vomit. All of my senses were on high alert, and took over everything. When he was done he left. Left me in my bed, wet from tears and his ejaculation. Left me empty.

He came back the next night, and did it again. This time I did not fight him. I let him do what he wanted. He told me I was worthless, and that I was lucky that he was “fucking” me. “All the girls want me, you know.” He left me again. Numb and alone.

“He came over to my house and we had sex…I wanted it.”

“So it was consensual?”

“Yes.” I shook my head as I tried to knock the images from those nights out of my mind.

Because he was twenty-one and I was fifteen, he was charged with statutory rape and placed on the sex offender registry.

My mom called me a whore, and my male social worker made me go on birth control, since I was promiscuous.

He was not held accountable for what he did to me, just like all of the others.

For years after the RAPE when I smelled leather, or Wintermint gum I would be back in my bed, under him. My life flashed back to that scared, fifteen-year old girl and I was paralyzed in the moment. When I saw him at a store, the fear from that night made me feel helpless, and alone. Uncontrollable tears would fall and my heart raced.

I paid for what he did to me for years and years.

He stole my virginity. He stole my self worth. He stole my power. He stole my control.

But he did not steal my hope.

I saw him recently, for the first time in many years. I stood in the distance and watched him with his wife. A middle aged man, with demons he will have to live with. I was not the only one he did this to, but like me, the others did not turn him in. Because of his actions those cold, February nights, he will forever be a registered sex offender. He no longer holds any kind of power over me. I understand now that he RAPED me, and that what happened was his fault. He did steal moments from me, but he no longer is entitled to any more control over my life.

For years I was ashamed because of what happened. When I told of past sexual partners, I always included him. The sting of his actions haunted me. But no more. I will never forget what he took from me, or the pain he caused me, but I have released him.

I have forgiven him.

I am stronger because of it.

#MeToo, #TeamKimandJessica, Child abuse, Sexual abuse, Uncategorized

#TeamKimandJessica

1_IN_10One in ten children will be sexually abused before age eighteen.

One in ten.

Children who are sexually abused often feel alone. They feel shame and guilt for the abuse that is happening to them. Many are too afraid to tell, in fear that the perpetrator may hurt them or someone they love, and some who do tell are not believed or dismissed.

perpetrators

In most cases, the child is sexually abused by someone they know, and often trust. This can make it even harder for them to tell. By trusting the abuser, they might not know what is happening is wrong, or they may feel obligated to keep the secret.

risk_factors_3The abuse starts before a child’s eighth birthday for 20% of children who are sexually abused. When the abuse starts at a young age, the abuser has the time to “groom” the child, and make them believe what is happening is normal, or is their special secret. Abusers know the tricks that work to keep themselves out of trouble, and in control of the child.

Abusers are conniving people, who are looking to get their needs met. Many times, they have been abused themselves as children, but that does not justify their actions. They know what it is like to be on the other side of the abuse, and yet, they allow the cycle to continue. Instead of being a voice for the children, they place their hand tightly over the child’s mouth and steal their innocence. They know what it is like, and yet, they chose to harm a child.

My sister, my daughter, and I are in these statistics. The level of abuse varies for each of us, but the trauma caused at the hands of our perpetrators lingers inside of us. We have good days, and bad. We have days that we love ourselves, and others where we loath ourselves. There is anger and rage, guilt and shame. We question our worth. And wonder, “was it really that bad?”

Anytime a child is victimized, it is that bad. 

It does not matter if it happened once, or a thousand time. The scars are there. Trust is broken. And the world becomes a different place. Three girls were touched before their eighth birthday, by men we knew. We carried secrets inside of us until we were able to release them. And we fought back.We made our voices heard. We were brave. We were strong. We put one foot in front of the other everyday to carry us a little further from our past. The few moments of the abusers’ gratification left us with a lifetime of imbedded trauma. It is our choice to ignore it or to own it and work through it.

I believe there are more than one in ten children that are sexually abused. I believe the number is much larger, but they are not ready to share their secret just yet. I believe the problem is much bigger than we know. This is a problem that we need to help with, and telling our stories is the first thing we can do.

When we share our stories, the isolation a child feels is lifted a little. The more they hear of others facing what they are facing helps take away some of the shame. A camaraderie is felt, and the world doesn’t feel so alone. These are the reasons I share my story. I know what it feels like to wonder if I was the only one. The isolation alone was enough to crush me, and the fear of what other people would think of me caused me undue stress. I didn’t know there were others.

Our voices will echo throughout the land.

You are not alone.”

“It is not your fault.”

“You did nothing wrong.”

“You are strong.”

“You are loved.”

Tell your story. Share with others how far you have come, or how far you want to go. Together, we have the power to change the stigma attached to childhood sexual abuse.

#MeToo, Sexual abuse, Uncategorized

My Story: #MeToo

pexels-photo-622135.jpegEver since the #MeToo movement hit the news, I began to think about my story. My first memory linking me to this movement is from when I was four years old. Although, I had been told it began before I was one. A female babysitter experimented with me while I was in her care. She was young herself, and told my mom after just a few questions. Before my first birthday I joined an enormous group of women, men, and children, who have been victimized sexually at the hands of another.

I wasn’t even 365 days old yet. And that’s when it started. Started…just began. Oh, there’s more…more than I can probably remember. My #MeToo just became #MeTooManyToCount. I know I am not alone. I know there are many others who have been victimized and re-victimized, by one or several. The number of people who cannot add the #MeToo hashtag is so much smaller than the ones who can; they just are not all ready to share.

At four years old, an older boy, who has his own #MeToo story, again, used me to experiment with. We were naked. He tried to have sex with me….and he just might have, but I was four and didn’t know what sex was. I never told. I did not want him to get in trouble, because if I told, they probably would have killed him.

At five a neighbor boy, only a couple years older than me made me take my pants down while he tried to have sex with me. Two older boys were watching. They did not try to help. They watched, and later told me they would tell my mom on me for being a whore. I was five.

At six the sexual abuse by my mom’s then boyfriend began. My mom was present for almost all of the abuse. I was reprimanded for being a dirty girl and letting him touch me. When I threatened to tell, I was told that I would go to jail, so I kept the secret safe. This abuse lasted for about three years, although the constant innuendos and sexual remarks never stopped.

At twelve the sexual abuse from the same man started again when I began to develop breasts. Every time I walked past him, he would reach out and touch them, or pinch them with some sort of comment to follow. I hated every part of it, but it was the norm in the household. He would touch my breasts and I would try to hide my chest all while my mom was watching.

At fourteen I finally told someone about the sexual abuse that I had been experiencing. The secret that I held close for eight years was finally released and I was put in foster care. When my mom was able to talk to me again after being removed from the home, she asked me to “recant” my story and blame the abuse on my dead father–the only man that never touched me in those ways. She told me that if I did not lie, it would be my fault if my then seven-year old sister was taken away and put in foster care. I did it. After a lot of convincing, I did what she asked to try to protect my sister with the hope to be able to return home as well. She got to stay, but I had to remain in foster care.

While this was happening, the only thing in my life that made sense was English class. I put all of my feelings and emotions into words and wrote until I couldn’t write any more. I arrived to class early each day, because I looked forward to the praise I received from my teacher. He told me how proud he was of my effort, and how beautifully I wrote. Approval was the one thing I could not get enough of.

One morning as I took my seat in class, the student teacher was the only one in the room. I instantly felt uncomfortable and thought of ways I could leave until the others arrived. The desire to leave left me paralyzed in my seat. He walked over to my desk, his groin level with my desk and he pressed himself into my face. I shrank back into my seat as I waited for him to leave, but he didn’t. I was relieved when another student walked in and he scattered away from my desk. The power he held over me was not something I was unfamiliar with, and maybe what all of the above perpetrators had in common.

At fifteen I was raped by a twenty-one year old man who was renting a room in my mom’s house. The second night when he came back he told me my mom had put him up to it. She fed me to the horny wolves…again. He did not get charged with rape because I did not have another trial in me. I reluctantly told the police that it was consensual, and he was charged with statutory rape, and I was labeled a “whore” by my mother.

At nineteen, I began working in a machine shop full of men. My best friend and I were the only two women on the shop floor at that time. At first it felt nice to get the special attention, but that faded quickly when the unwanted touching and comments filled most days. The fun place to go turned into a place that I dreaded.

My smile and quite demeanor made me an easy target; if there is such a thing. The unwanted sexual contact made sex confusing. I began to think the only thing I was worth was sex. My image of myself was distorted. If I could not make guys look at me, or turn their heads when I walked by, I felt worthless. If I wasn’t getting attention I felt ugly, and if I was getting attention I wanted to feel ugly, so I would let my weight get out of control. It was a constant, confusing battle.

I wanted the attention, but I hated the attention. A swirl of ecstasy mixed with depression. The roller coaster of self-loathing became my ride of choice.

“You’re too ugly to make anyone love you.”

“Why are you such a whore?”

“He thinks you are pretty…I like how that feels.”

“He thinks you are pretty…make him stop looking at me.”

The battle of negative self-talk turned all my thoughts into hateful ones.

I hated myself. I hated how people treated me. I hated how I wasn’t strong enough to make them stop. I hated that I didn’t know what love was. I hated that I was labeled a whore, and later a victim. I despise the v word, because it makes me feel weak.

The v word takes away my power, as did all the others before. I am not a victim. I am a survivor. A survivor of others’ actions and of my own negative self-talk. I know that I am not alone. I know there are countless others who know just how I felt. I know there are others who do not know who they are without the abuse. I know that I am not the only one who still feels like that scared little girl at times..

There is power in numbers. Together, we have the courage to tell our secrets and the strength to learn to love ourselves, to see ourselves as the truly beautiful women we are. From the inside out. You don’t have to suffer in silence. Our voices are changing the world. We will overcome, and we will rise above it all.

#MeToo

#YouToo

#Together