My sexual abuse began when I was a mere first grader and continued to the end of my second grade year. He was a young man my mother had entrusted to walk me home from school since she could not afford the luxury of being a stay at home mom. We lived in an urban apartment building filled with single mother, like mine, who often left their children home alone. To them, it was better to leave your child alone while you go “win the bread” than to stay at home with them and live limited by the confines of public assistance. My mother would never have left me with a baby sitter because you simple couldn’t trust people to hold your child’s best interest at hand. There were a lot of sick people in the world, so keeping me home alone was her way of protecting me from them. After meeting another single mother with a son in middle school, she found a solution to her problem. Surely, she felt she could trust him to be a companion for me and keep me safe everyday as I made that block and a half journey home from school every day.
I begin to form a deep relationship with him and a brotherly bond. I trusted him, because that is what small children do. They trust the world around them and idolize the people they look up to. Him being older made me look up to him. The naivety of child is what makes them precious to many members of society but for a predator an innocent child without proper protection is like blood in shark filled waters. My ‘blood’ was seeping into the waters of danger in great quantities as each day my trust grew stronger and the opportunities to capitalize on them multiplied. Finally, on a day where our parents were just in the next room, the molestation began. It began with games and strange touches that lead to sexual acts. No one ever forgets the first time. The images never leave your mind of a first sexual experience stolen years before sexuality should be awakened and turned into something perverted.
So what did I do? I kept silent. The abuse eventually stopped as I was replaced by another victim. I never told another living soul. I tucked the memory of abuse away in my mind and hid in deep into the sanctum of my soul where not even I would dare go to visit its archives. I didn’t realize how much the abuse affected my life until I was almost an adult. It changed the way I valued myself as a person and framed the way I treated others and expected to be treated. It made me very distrustful of others and very cold in relation. It defined my sexuality and caused me to equate intimacy with immorality and shame.
One of my favorite moments in the movie (based on the play/book) “For Colored Girls” is when one of the characters breaks into a soliloquy about how somebody almost walked away with all of her stuff. She opens saying:
“…stealing my [stuff] from me don’t make it yours, makes it stolen.
Somebody almost run off with all of my stuff & I was standing there looking at myself the whole time
& it wasn’t a spirit that took my stuff…. it was a man whose ego walked around like Rodan’s shadow…it was a man faster
than my innocence…”
That is exactly how I felt. Like somebody had come at the very start of my life, before the first crush and school dance, and walked away with all of my stuff. Walked away with my self-image and left me self-aware. Walked away with my sexuality and left me confused. Walked away with my innocent and left me corrupted. Walked away with the twinkle in my eye and left a sadness and a desire to be protected from an invisible monster. Walked away with my decision to give my body to someone one day and just took my body! Took my legs, thighs, my smile, my bruises and birth marks and left a little boy that I didn’t recognize. One who was angry, afraid and insecure and the WORSE part is that he walked away with me and no one even noticed.
I had to get me back. It was many years later, and after a lot of downward spirals and negative attempts to ‘self- medicate’. I finally realized what had happened to me wasn’t my fault. I finally realized I was a victim and not a participant. I was a survivor that desperately wanted, no needed, to be an over-comer. So I started by taking back the first thing the abuser stole from me, MY VOICE.
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