Dedication: I would love to dedicate my story to any young girl who has been assaulted or abused and is afraid to tell someone. I want them to say something and not be afraid.
Trigger warning: Before reading this post, please be aware that it contains descriptions of childhood sexual assault.
I can still, when I allow myself to think about it, remember the disgusting smell of beer and alcohol on his breath as he proceeded to pin me against the door so I couldn’t leave. The smell of alcohol, cigarettes never leave my mind. The complete shock to my soul has stayed with me to this day, 42 years later. Words cannot begin to describe what happened to the little girl who loved to laugh, was tough as nails, and so unafraid of the world. I was fun and crazy and life was great. It truly was butterflies, rainbows and unicorns, in my mind. I was innocent and my innocence was taken away. I was a young, innocent 13 year old girl who was assaulted by the man whose children I was babysitting. How the hell does that happen and what do you do about it? For the next 40+ years, I have lived with shame, depression, anger, self-doubt and extreme low self -confidence.
The 2nd assault was during a drunken stupor where I abused alcohol to hide my shame, guilt and my big dirty secret. Alcohol was my way of coping. Although I never slept with men who wanted to go out with me or just take me to bed, one night at a party, I was almost raped. Through God’s grace, I was able to fight off this man and get away. I put myself in situations that were less than ideal to say the least. I liked being drunk because I could keep the real me hidden since the real me was not a good person anymore. I was dirty and trampy and who would ever want me anymore anyway. However, after that night, I quit drinking and to this day, I may have had a handful of drinks, but never where I’m NOT in control.
The 3rd assault happened at Comiskey Park where the Chicago White Sox play. While I was waiting with my friends while our boyfriends (my husband) now, went to the bathroom, this man thought it would be okay to just come up to me and squeeze by breast and acknowledge them and my body. In my mind, I cracked. I took my big size 10 foot and kicked him in the ass and proceeded to claw this man’s face from top of head to neck and said, “So help me God, if you ever touch me again, I will kill you”. All I remember are his eyes and could not, to this day be able to recognize him. This man I’m sure to this day is scarred and has never touched another woman without permission again, or at least in my mind this is true.
Enough was enough. What is it about me that men feel they can just touch or attack me? I’ve been sexually assaulted in corporate America before they had laws to protect woman. Is this my life, for the rest of my life?
So because of this deep rooted pain, I didn’t really know what I’m here for, or what the hell my purpose is. I could not share my pain, because you see, 3 years after keeping my secret, my oldest brother was shot and left for dead. He survived but was a C1-C2 quadriplegic. He needed 24-hour a day care, he was on a ventilator and he could not move anything below his mouth. How could my assault mental, physical and emotional pain ever come close to his pain? How could I drop this on the family? He was the priority in the house of course. If I told my dad, he would have certainly killed this man and gone to jail. How can I tell my dad, have him go to jail, and then how is my mom going to handle 8 kids on her own and then with my brother being a quadriplegic, I had to keep my secret. It was my responsibility to keep the family intact, in my mind anyway. Our family is incredibly close and we needed to be there for each other…my brother needed us.
Here is where my I feel like my life has been one big uphill battle for acceptance and acknowledgement. After I finally told my family what had happened, most of them didn’t believe me. They couldn’t believe how someone could keep a secret like that for so long and why wouldn’t they say something. Now a new feeling of complete rejection was piled on.
So through all this I had to come to grips with my past as it was deteriorating my marriage of 30+ years, my life (depression), my health (kidney cancer), my business (completely imploded after my cancer), my soul and any probability of happiness. I was done and I needed help NOW!!! I sought therapy every single week for 1 full year. The core of my heart and soul was torn out, ripped and shredded and slowly put back together. I learned, no one can compare pain and one pain is not greater than the other. Pain is pain and it needs to be dealt with compassionately and kindly. While my brother was shot, the family and I received the shrapnel from the event.
In my pain, I have taught my daughter and her friends, to be aware, to be honest about what is happening in their life. I have discussed and been there for them when their parents couldn’t be there. I have learned my pain has value and by God, I will value it and take care of it and be heard.
Am I where I want to be, not yet? I still struggle with confidence and fear of rejection and what my purpose in life is, but I certainly do not struggle anymore with telling a man to go to hell if he is inappropriate, and I certainly do not struggle guiding young girls to trust themselves, and allow themselves to be heard regarding whatever their heart tells them, and I certainly do not struggle with self-anger and shame anymore, thankfully.
I try to live my life now in the mind of my 7 year old self again. To continue to build a beautiful life based on kindness, generosity, caring, laughing, sharing, and helping others however I can. I’m getting there slowly every day and my prayer is to help others in the same boat. I no longer live in a toxic, always fearful, environment as I believe all of this has been for a reason. I don’t know the reason, but I believe it. I have a voice and I let it be heard…well almost always 🙂