VANESSA

 

"Stranger danger" was the slogan of my childhood. It has served its place in my life and still does to this day.
 

When I was 5 years old, I had amazing best friends and neighbors who I considered family. We had practically known each other since we were born and I'm still friends with them to this day. What I was never told was to watch out for people who were close to me. I didn't know what was happening was wrong, I only knew something wasn't right. Thinking I was clever, I'd hide in closets, bathrooms, a different bedroom . . . But at 5 years old, when an adult tells you someone is in charge, you are supposed to listen to them, right? I was summoned and everyone thought I was lucky because I didn't have to clean like the rest of them–but no one knew what happened behind the closed door. For many years, until they moved, I was molested–and no one knew for years to come. I pushed it to the back of my mind and I even forgot about it until I was older and at the start of what would become an abusive relationship.

As things got worse, I started opening up. Then I was blamed for still being affected by my past, which quickly turned into physical and sexual abuse. The more I opened up, the more I was reliving my nightmare. It began playful, then it became forceful. He would manipulate me, use me, and leave me. If I didn't want to do something, I was not "fulfilling my duties". When I began having flashbacks, I was seen as a horrible person unable to care for others because it was still bothering me. When I began questioning things, I became the bad guy.

I was lost. I was frantic. I was depressed and suicidal. I needed to forget, and I needed someone to listen. Thinking I was calling upon a friend was my first mistake. I remember letting him into my apartment. I remember wanting nothing more than to drink and forget for a night. Another mistake on my part.

Telling me he had driven drunk on a motorcycle for an hour to see me: red flag number one. Trying to kiss me after saying I didn't want anything to happen, and I wasn't interested: red flag number two. I remember being sick. I remember throwing up in a bag next to my bed. I remember him trying to cuddle next to me, too. Next thing I knew it was morning, I was late and I had to go to work. A few months later, I found myself in a similar frantic panic and it was the same song and dance. A phone call weeks later would inform me that we had sex both times and it was "beautiful".

My current boyfriend knew little of my childhood past, but nothing about what happened to me as an adult. I had never really talked to anyone, got help, or wanted help. When I moved in with him, I began opening up to him about everything that had happened - and suddenly I wasn't suffering alone anymore. He was my strength to begin to heal and it's a learning experience everyday.

I live with guilt knowing that I never reported what happened or kept evidence. I felt dirty, damaged, disgusting, and worthless. I didn't want anything to bring me back to that experience and I thought blocking it out was my answer. I talk about my experiences more and more now, because when I found out that the man who molested me when I was a child, now has a daughter of his own–I had a full on panic attack. When I was told I was used for nothing but an experiment to see how far I could be pushed, I was sent into a frenzy. When I found out he got married and has a daughter of his own, I didn't know what to do. But I do know that I would feel responsible if anything happened to those poor baby girls.