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At first telling my story was something I never thought would happen. It was just flat out too hard, tears would flow and I would get so anxious I couldn’t talk about it. It wasn’t until the abuse hadn’t happened for about a year that I could finally utter “my stepdad molested and raped me for 8 years of my life,” my best-friend who I had known for roughly 5 years at the time was the first person I was fully able to open up to without any questions for me to actually talk. It wasn’t much but it was my story.

Over time it was something I had become pretty open about to the people who were closer to me. I think the importance then was the beginning of the healing process for me. When my own mother and social workers didn’t believe me I was devastated. I was a sophomore in high school when the social worker told me I was lying and I was 11 years old when my mom didn’t believe me. I honestly didn’t think I would ever get through it.

The more open I became the more I finally started to heal. As I began to heal and to realize more things like how I wasn’t at fault. How he was a sick monster who was completely to blame for everything he did. How I should have been believed, etc. I realized the reason to tell my story and why it was important changed. I knew how it felt to tell such a personal dark part of your life and someone look at me and say “Okay. Get over it” or “Oh so your one of those girls”. I had the positives of “I’m always here” or “I’m sorry you went through it”. But when met with a “I have been through that and I truly understand how you feel” was different. It was like I could be open with that person and know that there would be no judgement but complete understanding. I can honestly say until I had met someone and heard that reply that it didn’t feel like anything anyone else said truly mattered because they didn’t know the feelings.

Yes, people were there for me. It wasn’t on the same level for me personally as someone who could relate and help me through the tough times on a personal level. It was roughly a year ago that I realized why it was so important for me to tell my story. That reason why was simply to let someone else know that I understand, I’m here, I’ve been there, and that most importantly that they are not alone in dealing with any sort of sexual violence they have had to endure. That is the true reason why it is so important and why I volunteer for AVFTI.

Support a survivor of sex crimes during the summer here.

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