I remember exactly where I was sitting, what I was wearing, and what I was doing one particular day in 2001. I sat in my dining room surrounded by police officers and interviewers from DCFS. I began to tell my story of what happened with tears streaming down my face and shaking hands. I felt ashamed, disgusting, and violated during this process and during the five years which preceded this moment. Why? Because you never forget about five years of sexual abuse by an extended member of your family.
Beginning when I was six years old, every time I went to my older cousin’s house he would molest me. He talked me into not telling anyone with threats that I would be disowned by my family and that no one would ever talk to me again because I was a “bad girl”. I always believed him because I respected my elders. Every night when I went home I cried myself to sleep. This went on until one day in my sixth grade health class when I read that if you were being abused, you should tell someone immediately. I told my parents about the abuse the following Sunday.
The days following were a whirlwind. I didn’t feel like I was living, I went through the motions but was unattached; nothing meant anything and no one seemed genuine or real. A few weeks later, I found out that I was going to counseling. I did not want to do this. Talking about the situation would only make the memories flood back and I would only feel worse. I began to tell my story during my first session and to my surprise, I began to feel better. I finally got to express the feelings I had towards Danny. I felt betrayed. I did not trust anyone. However, I slowly began to pick up the pieces of my broken heart and put them back together. Through five years of counseling, I learned that the abuse was not my fault. One quote my counselor said to me sticks with me to this day: “If God brings you to it, he will get you through it.” That quote, along with the support from my family and friends helped me get through the court case. I was not allowed to testify because of my mental state and to this day, I regret that. We settled for a plea bargain and Danny is now a free man.
I now realize that I learned a lot from this experience. I don’t let anyone walk all over me or take advantage of me anymore. I have become a stronger person. I stand up for myself and what I believe in. I hold my head up high, and continue to move forward. I believe that through the most difficult times of my life, I have learned the biggest lessons and have become the best person I can be.
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