This I Believe

Michael - Ames, Iowa
Entered on February 10, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

If children are our future, then why do we keep hurting them? I have asked myself this question many times, pertaining to my own life as well as the lives of others. As a child, my parents got a divorce, and the courts placed me in the custody of my father. He re-married shortly after, giving both my sister and me a new mother. She brought with her four children from her previous marriage, three daughters and one son. I hated my father for marrying her because of her disrespect for both my sister and me, and when her son sexually abused me at the age of eight, my life only became worse.

“Is it my fault?” “Do I deserve this?” and “Is this normal?” are all questions I asked myself. It was hard for me to speak up because of the fear that no one would believe me. Even as a child I sensed that it was a greater embarrassment to be sexually assaulted as a boy than as a girl. It is not that people do not want to feel compassion for boys that are sexually assaulted, but since it happens more often to girls, people are unsure how to react to the sexual assault of a boy. Rather then addressing the issue, society has chosen to just sweep it under the rug. I felt that by revealing my past, I would be ridiculed and forced to become an outcast. Eventually I decided to step forward, although the events that were about to unfold made me question if I had made the right decision.

Over the next couple of months, all the moving between foster homes and going back and forth to court confused me. During this time I kept reassuring myself that everything would turn out for the best. When I was twelve the courts decided to place me with my grandparents, with whom I still live today. Over time I have come to accept my past, although it continues to be difficult to share it with anyone, especially friends. This experience has opened my eyes to all the tragedies that happen in the world and has given me something on which to base my life.

I struggle through life with the knowledge of my past, but I press on, determined not let it hold me back. Although perhaps painful, I will not forget my past. I believe that by embracing it, I have come to realize that my past is a part of who I am and only by accepting it was I able to overcome it. I have decided that I can either let this pain define who I am or I can turn this pain into inner strength. And it is with this strength that I have chosen to overcome the difficulties and live my life to its fullest potential.