TRIGGER WARNING: Childhood Sexual Abuse
At the ages of 6 and 10, my sister and I saw a boner for the very first time. My sister gave her very first handjob that day wearing overalls and sneakers. Don’t you dare tell me she was asking for it. To this day, I avoid interacting with middle-aged men when at all possible. 9 years later, we’re still working through trauma from that day.
October 2009 was the single worst month of my life. My sister and I were visiting my mom in a duplex she shared with the perpetrator. She was far from my favorite person, which was even further confirmed that day. She wanted privacy to read and work on homework sleep with her boyfriend at the time. She locked us out, told us that it was plenty warm enough outside for us to entertain ourselves. I went to my climbing tree in the backyard while my sister went to the front to ride her bike.
I went around to the front a bit later to check on her, only to find her standing on the neighbor’s front porch, holding his wrinkly, old penis in her hand while he gripped her arm, moving it up and down. My immediate response was to freeze. I just stood there, out of sight and absolutely petrified. I didn’t know what to do or how to stop it, I was only 10, afterall. I didn’t snap out of it until I watched him unbuckle her overalls and stick his hand down them.
Not my sister, you asshole.
I walked over, grabbed her hand, and got her away. As I walked her back around to my mom’s porch, he made sure we knew that it had to stay our little secret. If it didn’t, we’d regret it. My sister was terrified, so I had to be her voice. Once our mom let us back in, I told her what had happened. She told me I should have been watching her more closely, and to never let it happen again. That old bastard gave us $50 a pop for Christmas that year to continue to keep us quiet. What a joke. He continued to watch, take pictures of, and attempt to lure us into his house until my mom moved away from the duplex. I felt awful, like the biggest failure on the face of the planet. I let my little sister, my best friend, down. I carried the weight of that blame for almost four years before saying anything. After that day, I couldn’t bring myself to tell anyone else. I thought it was all my fault, it had to be my fault. If my mom said that it was, surely it was true.
Finally, after 3 years of attempting to suppress and forget, my sister and I made the decision to tell my dad. Within a month of making a report, he pleaded no contest to rape and was sentenced to life in prison under Jessica’s Law. At the end of the trial process, my dad made the both of us go to therapy. My sister was very receptive to it, and I was (and still am) her biggest supporter through the healing process. I, on the other hand, played the tough kid card and pretended that it didn’t bother me. After all, I wasn’t the victim, I was just the sister of the victim. I overcompensated for my deep-seeded shame by taking care of my little sister. Every time I hugged her and told her that it wasn’t her fault, I was internally taking the blame. Going through this together helped us build a connection and best-friendship that no one will ever be able to take from us.
I’m still incredibly angry with that man and would go back and change everything in a heartbeat, but I can’t help but be thankful for the bond it’s given us. Had I not had my sister to pour into at that point in my life, I don’t know what I would have done with myself. I’ve always shown her unwavering support and done my absolute best to help her move forward, but she’s helped me in ways she’ll never know.
I’ve only recently begun working through it in weekly therapy. That situation first instilled me with the fear, shame, and self-hatred that I’ve struggled to cope with for the last 9 years.
Sexual assault taught me to never stay silent. We gained our lives back the day we told and I’ve felt that level of freedom few times since then. The biggest piece of advice I can give is to never, ever, ever back down from the people who assault and harass you. Silence gives your assailant power that they don’t deserve in the slightest. Stand up for yourself and continue the fight. I know it’s daunting and scary, but you are so courageous. You’ve made it this far, which means you have strength that moves mountains. I believe in you. You’re not alone in this fight.