Not too long ago I was asked: "At what age did you realize men began taking sexual interest in you?"

"I was pretty young," I replied nonchalantly. But I didn't feel at ease when I said that. My pulse sped up. My hands began to tremble. I suddenly wanted to bury myself into a dark hole. And then I reminded myself that I am no longer a victim. He will not dictate my life. I am fearless.

Ever since I can remember "do not trust strangers" and "you will always have your family" was being drilled into my mind. So, after adopting those perspectives, never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined it would be a family member who snatched my innocence away; that a family member would be the one to instill so much fear into my 9 year old heart that I would not tell a soul as I continued to be violated for the next two years. But also, never in my wildest dreams would have I imagined that the day my courage arrived is the same day it would be shot down by the very people who were here to protect and serve.

I did not want pity. I did not want antidepressants. I did not want others to tiptoe on eggshells around me. I wanted my childhood back. I simply wanted justice. I desperately needed somebody who cared. 

The shame, disgust, self-blame and hatred I felt inside began to swallow me whole. Although we are always told it is never our fault, we still allow questions such as "did I provoke him?" and "why didn't I speak up sooner?" to eat us up inside. I could always heal from the physical trauma, but how was I going to bring myself back from the psychological torture? We are humans, for God's sake. Where was the humanity? I went on a downward spiral.

After years of self-healing, I no longer allow my rapist to have such control over my life. What people never understand is that the power goes far beyond the physical abuse. My loathe towards men came to an end. I learned how to channel my feelings in a productive and positive manner. Most importantly, I learned how to love myself. I tell myself every day I am worthy of love. Slowly but surely, I am finding my way towards acceptance and inner peace.