**Trigger Warning: Mention of SA, Rape, Abuse, suicidal


I have never told my story on an online platform like this
before, I have told my story to people in person but we don’t always go into
complete detail right? I try to spare some of the more intense parts of my
story as I am not attempting to scar, scare or traumatize that person in the
moment. But I do feel it is important that others hear and read my story so
that they can get an idea of what it is like to be healed and make it to the
other end of the tunnel. Or even come to a realization that something has happened
to them and that my story can validate them.

I was 4 years old when my cousin began molesting me. He
would molest me at family functions in a bedroom or a closet right down the
hallway from everyone, either at his house or my grandma’s house. He would
force me to give him oral sex, causing me to gag most times. He would perform
oral sex on me too. Most of the instances only lasted for about 20-30 minutes
at a time, not long enough for anyone to notice but long enough that it felt
like hours for me. This went on until I was about 8 years old. I should add
that my cousin is 7 years older than me so this started when he was 11 and when
on till he was about 15. As I got older there were moments where it would escalate
to him spanking me as hard as he could making me cry. He would also in front of
family touch me on my thighs and when holding me he would grab my butt. There
was one time that my little brother was with us and my cousin decided that he
would have my little brother join in with spanking me, making it a game, my
brother didn’t know better, he was only 3 at the time these situations began. I
didn’t understand what was happening to me during those 4 years I just knew
that it was uncomfortable or it hurt, but with the usual abuse tactics, I was
threatened with being hurt if I told or that I would get in trouble. I believed
it all stopped when my cousin got his first girlfriend. The most frustrating
part about this whole thing to me was that he made it into a game and groomed me
so well no one even batted an eye. The worst part about it for me as I got
older and went to counseling for this, was how did my parents not notice that I
was gone? And why didn’t they question why my 11-year-old cousin wanted to be
alone with me his 4-year-old female cousin?

Fast forward to my freshman year of high school. Until this
point, I hadn’t thought about the abuse that happened with my cousin. Due to my
lack of understanding of grooming and what it looks like, and the fact that it
had been done to me as a child I succumbed to more abuse from my first “boyfriend”
who was the textbook football player, cocky, overconfident, and thought he
could do whatever he wanted and get away with it because he was on the football
team. This relationship didn’t last very long, but one day I met up with him
during homeroom to help him with his math homework, at least that’s what he
told me. I had homeroom in the music hallway and so did he so we met in one of
the practice rooms which is about the size of a small walk-in closet with a
piano. I remember once getting there that we weren’t doing what he said we were
going to so I went to go leave and he pinned me against the piano, shut the
door which locks from the outside so no one could get in and turned off the
light. He tried to get me to kiss him. I told him no over and over and he kept
asking saying he would let me go when I did and the last time I went to say no
I looked at him and he forcibly kissed me. After this, a teacher had opened the
door and he let up so I could run out and thankfully the teacher that opened
the door was a teacher that knew me and my family well enough to know that I
was not the type of student to do anything like this. I told a friend of mine
what happened and she walked with me to my teacher who then sent me to the
counseling office so that I could report him. The school resource officer got involved
since it was a sexual assault, I ended up not pressing charges because I felt
that he already knew how much trouble he was in and that to me was enough.

A few months later I met a guy through my same friend who
helped me who was 4 years older than me and a senior. We started dating when he
was 18 but told everyone that he was 17 so that no one would suspect that
anything was against the law even though it was. In the beginning, it seemed
great, with the lack of understanding, and confidence in myself there were a
lot of red flags that unfortunately didn’t become clear to me until everything
happened. I lost my virginity to him pretty quickly, of course, it was
uncomfortable because I was showing a male my naked body for the first time,
and many times after that. After a while, there were times where I didn’t want
to have sex, and he would manipulate me into thinking that I was a bad
girlfriend because I wasn’t taking care of his needs. Or that sex could make me
feel better if I wasn’t feeling good. It ended up escalating to him raping me
multiple times, he would “make up” for it by buying me things like flowers,
food, and clothing, anything that would make me believe that he loved me so
much. There were times that we would argue and he would gaslight me, making me
think that I was always wrong or couldn’t seem to remember what I said, making me
constantly second guess myself. Finally, I made him mad enough that he threw me
against the wall and held me there while he screamed at me, If I moved or flinched
away he would grab me by my throat and hold me there so I could stare at him
while he belittled me to nothing. My parents didn’t like our relationship
mostly because of the age difference, did they know about the sex? Yes, they
weren’t very happy about that either. One time my mom and my sister took my
phone because I had gotten in trouble and he messaged me on anything he had
access to message me on my phone because I hadn’t answered him for 10 minutes.
My mom and my sister tried to convince me that this was a major red flag and
that he was beginning to become obsessive and that I needed to break up with
him.  After that we snuck around, having
sex in the woods, his car, sometimes me sneaking over to his house, almost
every time I was forced or manipulated to something I didn’t want to, but after
every time he would love bomb me with gifts and kind words. I would find ways to
talk to him of course and get my phone taken away when my parents found out
each time it was worse and worse, constant yelling at me, I was told by my mom
at one point that I wasn’t her daughter anymore which was hard because I didn’t
even know how to get out of the situation I was in, and I thought I could
depend on my parents but they just saw it as me being a rebellious teenager. It
was a never-ending cycle it seemed. But with abuse, it’s hard to leave because
it feels like they have their claws in you so deep it’s almost like they’ve made
you addicted to them.

During this whole situation, I had joined a police cadet program,
because I wanted to be a police officer when I was old enough. Thankfully this
program slowly helped me build my confidence back, which helped me better
defend myself and I was even able to catch my boyfriend in lies and gas-lighting
me. I fell pregnant before going to a boot camp they hold for the cadets to
give them an idea of what the 8 week or longer academy will look like. By the
time I got there I was about 2-3 months pregnant, my parents didn’t know, I
didn’t know where to go for proper care, all I knew was I got a positive pregnancy
test and I downloaded an app to track everything. I lost the baby one night and
that was the worst pain I had ever felt, but not knowing proper care for myself
I just put a tampon in and went on with the rest of the week. Once I got home I
finally got the courage to break up with him and deleted and blocked him on
everything I could. He would show up at the high school trying to talk to me
acting like he was there visiting friends, but in reality, he was stalking me.
I finally told him off and let him know that he had gotten me pregnant and that
I lost it, and that I was glad I didn’t bring a child into this life with an
abuser as a father. That made him stop completely. Was I actually happy that I
lost the baby? No, I was actually kind of sad for a while because I have always
wanted to be a mom, but I understood what the consequences could have been if
the pregnancy had gone to term.

During that same week, I was in a class that was going over
sexual assault of all things and they had brought up a case very similar to
what had happened to me between my cousin and me. I froze, I had finally made
the connection that this had happened to me as a child and it was wrong. All of
a sudden all of the memories had rushed back that my brain had suppressed for
so long I became overwhelmed. I went to my supervisor who was there with us
cadets and I broke down saying that I had been sexually assaulted. My
supervisor acted pretty quickly and grabbed a female detective from another
department and had her sit in with my supervisor and I while I explained what happened.
All I can remember was that the entire time I was talking I was freaking out saying
my cousin was going to come and kill me and that he was going to come and hurt
me that somehow he knows that I am telling them everything that had gone on.
Thankfully I was surrounded by great people who made sure to remind me that I
was safe and that I had nothing to worry about. Once I got home I had to go and
talk to detectives who were in the jurisdiction where the assaults had
happened. After I gave my statement and chose to press charges, my cousin was
arrested shortly thereafter at my aunt and uncle’s house. He plead guilty and
was sentenced to six months in jail with work release, so he only was actually
in the jail on the weekends. He was registered on the sex offender list, and he
had to go to a counseling program and complete it. There was a no-contact order
put in place, and he couldn’t be around minors. My mom and my aunt kept the
whole thing a secret and told me that I needed to wait to say anything to
anyone. That was really hard on me because it made me feel like my mom was
ashamed of me and that she was trying to act as nothing had happened. That created
a big dent in our relationship for a long time.

After everything came out and my cousin was sentenced I went
to multiple different counselors because my trauma was so bad that I was having
flashbacks that would become violent and I would attack any male that was
around me because to my brain they were my cousin. I would have these
flashbacks at school and home. There was one time I had a flashback at school
so bad that I had to be restrained by one of my male friends and taken around a
corner so that I wouldn’t attack another one of my male friends. I disassociated
and became very emotionally absent. I lost a lot of friends and those friends
became bullies to me. I turned to fighting because I couldn’t control my anger,
in the end, I ended up becoming the bully. I hated myself at this point, I
wanted to kill myself. I had made a plan to do it at the end of the third
trimester of school, I began cutting myself, and I stopped eating. All through
this, I thought it would be a great idea to start a relationship with another
male that was one of my friends. That relationship lasted about 2 years. We were
on and off and we were so toxic to each other, but we kept going back. This
relationship wasn’t physically abusive, but the mental and emotional abuse was
the worst I have ever experienced. And I was just as bad towards him too.

Back to going to multiple different counselors, I finally found
one that was a specific counselor for sexual assault. After I started going it
felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I was able to find coping
mechanisms that worked for me. I could pull myself out of flashbacks, and I
felt like I was a normal person again. After I completed my counseling, I was doing
very well for a few months but then things started to get bad again, and so my
mom was able to find the same counselor I had and we found out that she had moved
to another location and so my mom made an appointment and I started seeing her.
I saw this counselor from mid junior year through my senior year. She helped me
get the courage to break up once and for all with my boyfriend at the time and
gain back the confidence that I had lost along the way. I was also able to find
out who I was and who I wanted to be, and how to better myself and to deal with
and process all that had happened to me in my life so far. Near the end of my
senior year, I got into contact with a recruiter for the Coast Guard. I planned
to join that following September and went through the MEPS process and
everything, but I struggled to score well enough to make it into the type of
job that I was planning on getting when I joined. That process really tested my
confidence in myself and I was starting to doubt and feel like a failure.
During this time I met my now-husband. He was in the Coast Guard, and had been
in about 9 months or so when we met. He was the best thing that has ever happened
to me besides when I finally was able to take control of myself and my life again.
We were married after 6 months of knowing each other and now are about to
celebrate 3 years with a baby on the way. I am in school to become a trauma
counselor myself so that I can help others get the healing and treatment that
they need.

I just wanted to tell my story to let people know that you
are enough, you deserve respect and to be loved. Your trauma doesn’t have to
define you and you can use it to help others. There have been many times that I
have brought people to the point that they go to counseling for trauma they
didn’t realize was effecting them, and I also like to make counseling a common
thing and that you are strong for going and getting help because the first step
is allowing yourself to understand and process what has happened to you. I also
want you to know that even if you haven’t gotten counseling, you are still
strong and powerful if you have taken the time to allow yourself to try and
deal with what has happened to you. You can heal and you can feel normal again. 

Join the Conversation


  1. Lala

    Thank you for having the courage to share your story. Im so happy for you that you got help and now your in school to become a trauma counselor. I hope school isnt stress you out to much and im so sorry you had to go through such trauma. Thank you so much for encouraging other to get help. You sound like such a brave and inspiring soul.

  2. CarmenR Volunteer

    Thank you for trusting us with your story. I am sorry to hear about what you have been through, but I am so happy to hear about the amazing healing you have done. You are so strong, and so kind to share your story with others. Your courage and willingness to help others through their healing process is inspiring.

  3. Brooke Volunteer

    gravestogardens thank you so much for sharing this story. To be able to retell it is so brave. I’m sorry to hear about the abuse from your cousin and I’m sorry you felt like you didn’t have your family to support you during or after. I have to say after everything you’ve been through you should be so proud of how far you’ve come. You sound like and incredibly strong and resilient person. To do the work for yourself and take the steps with therapy is huge. So happy to hear about all your exciting future plans and that your now in a very loving relationship. You deserve all the love and happiness. Just remember we all support you here and are rooting for you!

  4. leoreslavick Volunteer

    Hi gravestogardens,
    Thank you for sharing your story as I know it was not easy to relive all of those raw feelings and emotions again. I am so sorry that you had to go through something like that. What your cousin did to you was in no way your fault and I am so sorry for the abuse you had to go through from your boyfriends’ after. You deserve to be comfortable and loved in a relationship and those were in no way mutual relationships. It takes so much courage and growth to pinpoint the reasoning for the trauma and why it might have happened and is one step to growing and healing from the trauma. I am so happy to hear that you are in a healthy loving relationship and working as a trauma counselor helping people overcome similar problems. It is so inspirational and I hope you continue to grow and heal so that you can feel confident in yourself and feel normal again.

  5. eagle206 Volunteer

    Hi gravestogardens,

    Thank you for coming here to share your story. It takes a lot of courage to share. I’m so sorry to hear about what happened with your cousin when you were younger. What he and then your first boyfriend did was wrong. Relationships should be built on mutual respect and understanding. You deserve to be with someone who asks you if you are comfortable with each thing before it happens. It’s hard when someone tries to make it up to you for something they did with gifts, but sadly if it’s a continuous thing they aren’t proving that they are willing to change and be more respectful. I’m glad to hear that working with that one counselor helped things. Healing isn’t always linear but it sounds like you are making great progress.

    Stay strong,

  6. dzreid Volunteer

    Hi there!
    Sharing your story no matter how it’s done, is never easy, but does become easier the more you do so. I am that glad you found the courage to not only share on here, but to share with counselors. You have experienced so much that no one should ever have to. I am sad that your life was filled with so much trauma. It takes one person to be the voice for those who can’t be their own. I am happy that you are turning your traumas into something beautiful. I mean using your experiences to become a trauma therapist. I see so much strength, growth, & empowerment in your story! You are courageous, & brave. You didn’t deserve any of what happened, but deserve to life a happy life. Yes, you are worth it. You deserve to walk in a freedom, & have peace. You are enough. You can overcome! Yes, the first step can be the hardest thing ever to do (speaking out on the assaults/abuses) but once it’s done, that alone is so freeing! Celebrate you along the way! So happy about your marriage & the baby on the way. Congratulations! Wishing the best to you!

  7. adrian Volunteer

    Hey, gravestogardens-

    You have been treading water for a long time. You deserve solid ground. We are here to support you! You did not deserve to have what happened to you. You are strong to have shared, though. I can hear the resilience through your story- every step of the way. It is positive to find yourself seeking assistance from counseling. Having someone in your life to talk over your trauma or just life in general helps in the healing process. You’re right, though, you can heal and feel normal again with or without a counselor. Your last paragraph was particularly insightful of who you are as a person. You came here to share your story, which offers space for others to do the same. But, you left your readers with hope, with light in their life. Your bravery has enabled others to choose bravery, too. Please feel free to come back and post again whenever and if you ever feel you’d like to. Keep fighting the good fight.

    Take care,

  8. Mary Ella Day Captain

    Hello gravestogardens,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I am sorry you have gone through so much traumatic experiences ever since you were a child. You did not deserve any of those experiences. However, it is amazing to see the resilience and strength you have after everything you have gone through. I’m happy to hear that you have found happiness, and that you are expecting a baby! You deserve all the happiness and support, and thank you for pursuing a career in counseling. You are so special, and the work you will be doing is so important. Thank you for wanting to encourage others to heal. I wish you the best and feel free to come back and share us any updates. Take care!


  9. Breanna Volunteer

    Hi gravestogardens,

    Thank you for coming and trusting us with your story. I’m so sorry for all of those negative experiences — you were just a child, and you should have been safe and protected. I am so proud of you for seeking counseling to help you cope with and process these traumas. Like Neesha said, your resilience truly shines through in this post and your goal to become a trauma counselor to help others is so admirable. I am so glad you’re in a happy relationship with your husband and congratulations on the baby!! How exciting. I wish you all the best. Feel free to come back and share any updates or let us know if you need anything. Keep your head up!

    Sending love,

  10. Neesha Volunteer

    I am so sorry to hear what happened to you as a child. You were four and you were not safe with your family. It makes sense to me that without a secure family environment you would be more susceptible to others with ill intentions. You’ve been through so much mental, physical, and sexual abuse of course you had flashbacks and you were wise to seek counseling. I am so glad you are still here and I admire your strength to share what you’ve been through. Your resilience shines through your in you words. I am happy to see that you do the work to not let your trauma define you.

  11. sarahsays Volunteer

    Hi gravestogardens,

    Thank you for being here and sharing your story with us. You have been through a lot and I feel honored to have had the privilege to hear your story and for you to trust us with this. I can imagine how scared, confused, and alone you must have felt so many of these times but I am so proud of you and impressed to hear the way you reported when you were assaulted. Your story is powerful and inspiring and a true reminder of what we can overcome despite what has happened to us. We believe you and are here for you, and I wish you all the best with school and your future career. I know you’ll change many lives.

  12. kr1510 Volunteer

    Hi gravestogardens!
    I just want to say thank you for sharing your story. You have been through so much in your life that you never deserved. Seeing that through all of that hardship you found strength is wonderful. Hearing that you are now trying to become a trauma counselor is really inspiring to those who may have gone through similar traumas. You couldn’t have stated it any better when you say even if you haven’t gotten counseling you are still strong and powerful. You have come such a long way and you should be extremely proud of yourself. Keep us updated on your journey of becoming a trauma counselor!
    Stay safe!

  13. aegardiner Day Captain

    Hi gravestogardens,

    I know it must not have been easy to share your story, but thank you for trusting us with it. I’m so sorry for each of the relationships that you have had that should have been ones of trust, starting with your cousin through each of your boyfriends. It sounds like there was a period of time where you didn’t have a strong support system with your friends and even your mom, but I hope that those relationships have since been mended. That must have been incredibly hard to finally tell your story and press charges against your cousin, but what a brave thing to do. Your story is truly inspirational – you should be so proud of all that you have accomplished and for the support you have provided to others who have experienced similar traumas. I am sure there are many survivors here who will read your story and find comfort and hope from it. It is wonderful to hear that you found happiness with your husband and congratulations on your pregnancy! Good luck to you as you complete your program to become a trauma counselor. It sounds like you have a wonderful support system, but please feel free to share or reach out to us here as often as you need.

  14. haesol Volunteer

    Hi gravestogardens,

    Thank you so much for trusting us with your story. What those men did to you was absolutely awful, and inexcusably wrong; you didn’t deserve to go through any of that. Reading your story, I can see how remarkable your growth and strength have been. I am sure everyone who needs reassurance that they’re not alone and that healing is possible will be able to find comfort with your story, and that is really amazing. I am so glad to hear you have a support system, and that counseling has helped you. As you’ve said, your trauma does not define you, and you’ve shown how strong and resilient you are. I sincerely wish you the best in your healing journey. We are here for you!

    Stay safe.

  15. timms_andrew Volunteer

    Hello gravestogardens,
    Thank you for sharing your story with us here. I am sure what you wen through was very difficult, and I am sorry you had to experience it. I am glad you decided to go to counseling about it. I am happy to hear things are going better for you, and congrats on getting married! I look forward to hearing about where life takes you next, and you are a very strong person.

    Andrew Timms

  16. sarahj Volunteer

    Hi gravestogardens,

    Thank you for being so brave and sharing your story with us here. I am so very sorry to read what happened to you — especially at such a young age with your family member. You did not deserve any of what you experienced. You are an incredibly strong person.

    I want to commend you on all the hard work you have done to get to the space in your life you are now. I am thankful you are able to not only openly share your story, but offer helpful insight and encouragement for others who may be suffering.

    Continue to stay positive! And always feel free to come back and share whenever you’d like.. we are here for support whenever you need.

    Take care!

  17. JudithT Volunteer

    Dear gravestogardens,

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. I admire the conviction you have in compiling your narrative and recognizing that your story is important and can help others. You’ve endured so much pain and shown so much strength and resilience through it all. You did not deserve any of that abuse–especially as a child, you deserved to be safe and loved. It sounds painful and exhausting to be trapped in a violent and manipulative relationship, and it makes sense that it was overwhelming to rediscover the repressed memories of your childhood. I’m so glad you were able to survive that dark period and find a counselor who could help you process, develop coping mechanisms, and work towards healing.

    Your trauma has not defined you, and it is so admirable that you’re helping others realize they are not alone, that they are worthy and healing is possible. To recognize the power of your story and share it so fully is really amazing, and I just want to thank you again for your courage in sharing your story with us. Congratulations on your happy marriage and the baby on the way! I wish you the best as you continue your journey, and please know you’re always welcome to share anything with us! We’ll be here for you.


  18. Marissa Day Captain

    Hi gravestogardens,

    Thanks for sharing your story with us! I’m so sorry that you went through such terrible things, but I want you to know that I think it’s absolutely amazing that you’ve been able to take control of your trauma and turn it into something that you can help others with. You are so incredibly strong!

    I’m sorry your cousin manipulated and groomed you, and that your family didn’t notice that anything was wrong. They let you down. I’m really proud of you for coming forward and speaking out about what happened, even though it was so much later. You did the right thing and he’s facing the consequences of his actions now! Unfortunately, I think it’s kind of common for people that were abused as children to fall back into abusive relationships. Oftentimes, though, people don’t know how to break out of that cycle. I’m so glad you had such a supportive group to lean on that helped you find yourself. You’re doing amazing things now!

    Please let us know if there’s anything we can do for you. We are here to help, however we can!

  19. silverliningsunshine Volunteer

    Hi gravestogardens,

    Thank you so much for being vulnerable and sharing your story. I can hear the pain in your story, and you’ve shown so much strength and resilience by sharing this all. I am so sorry for what you had to go through at such a young age- nobody deserves that and I hope you are able to find inner peace and healing despite all that you’ve gone through. I am happy to hear you have a support group and are working towards helping others. Your story is inspiring and I am grateful I have been able to read through this. All of us at AVFTI are delighted that you are sharing your story of overcoming obstacles and helping others. We wish the absolute best for you!


  20. pinksky92 Volunteer

    Hello gravestogardens,

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. I am truly sorry for all that you had to endure. What happened to you should have never occurred, but I am glad that you have been able to process what happened to you and are now on a path to help others.

    I want to thank you for posting your story because it is something that will definitely help other survivors. You should be proud of how far you have come. You displayed so much strength and courage to come forward with your story today, but also in bringing your cousin to justice. I wish you all the best. Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do for survivors everywhere.

    Take care!

  21. brookeA Volunteer

    Hello gravestogardens,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I admire you so much for sharing it, and I definitely believe that it will help others! I’m so sorry for all the things that you’ve gone through and that your family was not able to protect you. I’m glad that you had people to support you later on in life, and I hope you feel safe and supported now. It’s so great that you are training to help others heal from their trauma. Your last paragraph is so true, and I’m sure it has inspired and will continue to inspire survivors! Wishing you the best! Please feel free to come back and share anytime you feel like it.

  22. jcas120 Volunteer

    Hello gravestogardens,

    I am so glad you found out about AVFTI. Thank you for your bravery and courage and coming here to share your story. I’m so sorry to hear about all the pain you endured. You have been through so much and show so much resiliency. I love how you used your story to let others know that they are enough and deserve respect. I also love how you wrote that trauma doesn’t define you – this is so true! You are bringing love and connection back into the world around you by helping others see a counselor and helping peruse people to go. You are amazing! 🙂 We are so happy you came here to share your story and I know you inspired people to continue on their own healing journey.

  23. musicislove

    Hi gravestogardens,

    Thank you so much for coming here and sharing your story. It takes a lot of strength to share trauma like you have and I agree that it’s important for stories like yours to be out there. I’m sorry for all of the pain you’ve endured but I’m so glad you’re doing so well right now. When you first experienced trauma at such a young age it makes sense that you didn’t know what was happening. You were young and were with someone you should have been able to trust, and I’m sorry that your cousin violated you the way he did. I’m so sorry all of your memories of the trauma you went through came back during your class but I’m glad that you had such good support. It’s great that you met someone you care about so much and congratulations on your upcoming anniversary and baby! Becoming a counselor is incredible and I wish you so much luck as you navigate this new endeavor. Please come back anytime you want to share more, we’re always here.


  24. ajklessig Volunteer

    Hi gravestogardens,
    You are right, it is important for others to hear your story and I am thankful that you shared it with us. Sharing can be really hard, but it does make an impact on others. Your life has definitely not been easy, but I can tell how resilient and strong you are. You did not deserve any of what happened to you, and none of it was your fault. It is totally normal that you did not understand everything with your cousin at such a young age. He manipulated you and that was not okay. I can’t imagine how scary it must have been to re-live all of that again after discussing sexual assault in class, but I am glad you had a strong support system around you. You worked really hard to become who you are today, and you should be proud. I think it is also very fitting that you are in school to become a trauma counselor and I think you will help a lot of other people who are in similar situations. Feel free to come back and update us again!

  25. jcastle38 Volunteer

    Hey there,

    I want to start off by saying how incredibly strong you are! And it makes me very happy that you have taken time for yourself, found help, and are helping others heal as well. I am so sorry about all of the trauma that you encountered, your cousin and your ex boyfriend should not have treated you in such ways. I am also sorry about the baby you lost, I know how big of an impact it leaves on you. But I am so glad you’ve encountered helpful counselors that have helped you heal. And I am even more glad that you met the love of your life, are expecting a baby, and will soon become a trauma counselor. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, I hope your story reaches others around the nation and lets them know there is hope, and time heals everything. Sending you lots of love, and congratulations on your achievements I would love an update when your precious baby is born!

  26. Caitlin Volunteer

    Thank you so much for sharing your story! I know you know how much it impacts so many people but I still applaud the bravery and the time it takes to help someone else and share your story in this way.

    I am so sorry that you were not safe and protected when you absolutely should have been!!!! It is not ok that happened and you deserved to be protected and supported. You have done so much work to get your life back and I am so proud of you. The therapy, the reporting, the being in the same town as your cousin, etc. All of those things are so hard. It is so cool that you gained confidence from the police cadet program, what a great way to gain self confidence and self respect. Your journey to help others is so amazing and you will be such a wonderful support to folks going through hard times.

    Thanks again for sharing and taking the time!


  27. chompyapple1 Volunteer

    Hi Gravestogardens,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. First, I am so sorry that this happened to you, you did not deserve it. It’s great to hear that you went to different counselors and settled on one that you found to be really helpful to you. I hope you continue to find satisfaction by being a counselor yourself and helping others, you have my utmost respect. I wish you well for your future. We’re always here if you want to share. Stay strong!

  28. Northlane1991 Volunteer

    Hey Gravestogardens

    I am so glad you shared your story with us and I know it can be difficult rehashing the details. I hope this was helpful to share to be able to express yourself and what happened to you was not okay. You should be proud of yourself to continue to push but also making it through. I am glad you were able to find therapy and sharing experiences with others. Come back and share anytime!

  29. KatherineL Volunteer

    Hi gravestogardens,

    I am so glad you found us and shared your story. I know it can be difficult rehashing the details, but I hope it was helpful to you to share. You’ve been through a lot and it’s not okay what these people did to you. You should be proud of yourself for making it through, seeking counseling, and sharing your experiences here for others. Come back and share anytime!


  30. karinakalke Volunteer

    Hi gravestogardens,

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. I know that took a lot of courage. I’m so sorry you experienced these traumas. Please know that none of it was your fault. I’m also glad to hear that counseling has been helpful. Please know that you can share again at any time. We are always here for you.

    Sending love and support,

  31. kelly Day Captain

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, gravestogardens. You have survived a lot, and I’m glad you’re here to share you story of overcoming. I’ve also gained a lot from going to therapy with someone who is educated on trauma and sexual assault. I’m so sorry that happened to you, but I’m so glad to hear you are able to process what happened and live a full life. We all deserve that.

  32. Erin O'Callaghan Day Captain

    Thank you for coming to share your story. I am so sorry for everything that happened and that you have been through. I’m so glad to hear that counseling was so helpful for you, and that you want to be a trauma counselor, too! I think that is so great, and you will be able to help a lot of people. I hope that everything is going well, and come back and share any time.


  33. amilne9 Volunteer

    Dear gravestogardens,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. Also, I love your username, it reminds me of a song I know and is such a beautiful message. I know it must be hard to open up about this, but I am so proud of you for having the courage to do so so that others can read it and be inspired by you. Even after all you have been through, you are still such an encouraging and uplifting person, and that is incredible. I am so sorry that you had to experience what you did, no human being should ever have to go through that. You deserve so much better and I am happy that you have a husband now who treats you the way you deserve to be treated, with love and kindness. Your strength will surely help others, and it is amazing that you are willing to do that after all you have been through, and that you are turning your story in to something so much more than what happened to you. Keep staying strong and being the awesome person you are, and please feel free to update us if you ever need to talk again. I really appreciate your kindness and encouragement.

    Much Love,
    Ari <3

  34. music2799 Day Captain

    Hi gravestogardens,

    I can only imagine the pain and trauma you’ve been through. None of this was your fault, and you didn’t deserve it. I understand how it feels when your family tells you to keep these experiences secret, and it makes sense that this caused a dent in your relationship with your mom.

    I’m so glad your supervisor was supportive when you told her what happened, and it’s awesome that you figured out who you wanted to be through counseling. Congratulations on 3 years with your husband and your baby on the way, and it’s wonderful that you’re becoming a trauma counselor!

    Thank you for sharing your story and for your kind words in your last paragraph. You’ve made a lot of progress, and I’m so happy for you! We’re here to support you, so please write back if you need anything at all. I hope you’re doing well this week.

  35. Starling Volunteer

    Hi gravestogardens,
    Thank you for sharing your story with us. I’m so sorry that you had to go through that. You didn’t deserve it, and it wasn’t your fault. I’m glad that you were able to find a counselor that you connected with to help you get back on track. It’s great to hear that you have your husband to support you, and congratulations on the baby on the way! You’ve clearly come a long way, and you should be proud of that. If you ever need anything, let us know. We’re always here for you.

  36. zelda Day Captain

    Hi, gravestogardens,

    Thank you for sharing your story. It’s quite powerful. You have been through so many horrendous traumatic experiences throughout your life, yet you never gave up the fight.

    I’m so happy for you! You were able to fend off the residual demons from your traumas to find joy in the end. I’m so glad you have a caring husband…and with a baby on the way!! That’s so exciting.

    Your story has parts I can relate to. One of the happier parts would definitely be the light at the end of the tunnel. I ended up meeting my husband over a dating app; he had just gotten to my city for the Navy. We ended up getting married 4 months later. We have had many downs, but there have also been a lot of ups. He’s shown nothing but unconditional love for me. It’s hard to accept sometimes.

    You sound like you deserve someone exactly like that, and I’m so glad you two were able to find each other.

    I don’t know you, but I’m proud of you, and I’m so excited for you. I hope this baby brings more blessings and more joy into your household. Making me have baby fever, lol!! It’s a beautiful thing.

    Please take care of yourself. You and your growing fam are in my thoughts and prayers. As always, thank you for sharing what yo’ve endured, how you survived, and what you did to overcome.

    Much love,


  37. rachelb098 Volunteer

    Hi there,

    Thank you for your immense courage in speaking up and sharing your story with us. It sounds like you’ve been resilient through so much, even though it’s not fair that you’ve had to be. It must have been so overwhelming to have had all those flashbacks, and I’m so sorry for all this pain that you’ve had to carry with you. The fact that despite everything you were able to push through and get the support you deserve is incredibly impressive, and shows so much strength on your part. It’s truly inspiring that you’re on your way to becoming a trauma counselor yourself, and I have no doubt you will do incredible work. Thank you again for everything you’ve shared, and for your supportive and kind words. Please know you can always share again with us, we’re here for you.

    All the best,

  38. Alyssa Day Captain

    Hi gravestogardens,
    I’m so sorry that this happened to you. You are so brave for sharing your story on here. I know it can feel scary especially since this is the first time you have shared your story on a platform like this, but you did great! I’m so proud of you for pushing forward and never giving up on helping yourself. What your cousin did to you was terrible. I’m happy that you got the justice that you deserved. Congrats on getting married and the baby on the way. Thank you for sharing your story with AVFTI. If you need anything we are always here for you. Continue to stay strong.