No Not Me

I always thought of sexual abuse as something that happened to people on the television or people I didn’t know. It didn’t happen to people I knew… and I’d never think it would happen to me. No, not me…

I guess I was in for a rude awakening when I found myself in a situation that I never expected myself to be in…

When I was a child, age 6 at the youngest, I was sexually abused by a member of my family. We weren’t related by blood; he was married to one of my aunts. My uncle got along really well with my family. He was always the first to volunteer to take the kids out to have fun, was always helping out around the house and was always positive. Based on my observations, it seemed like my family got along with him very well, too. So, it was hard to believe that he would commit such a thing.

On one occurrence, though not the first, I remembered going to his house to play with my cousins, who were also his daughters. It was around eight o’clock in the morning and I guessed that my cousins were still getting freshened up for the day because I heard my aunty tell them to start doing their chores. Figuring that they’d take a while to finish, I sat in the living room and watch television. I heard footsteps coming towards me and as I turned around, I saw my uncle approaching the couch. I figured he wanted to sit on the couch with me, so I moved over to give him some room. Instead, he pulled me off the couch, sat down, and pulled me into his lap. Of course, I was terrified of what was going to happen next because it wasn’t the first time he tried to do something to me.

Terrified, I couldn’t move so I sat there for a while before he started to touch my “private” parts above my clothes. Though I was in shock, I started to cry. Then, as if he didn’t think what he was doing was wrong, he moved his hand into my underwear and started touching me. I know that a normal person would jump and run away immediately, but I was a little girl and I was too terrified of the thoughts of what he’d do to me if I ran away and told someone. So, I sat there…waiting for it to end, all the while thinking about what I was going to do when it did end.

He stopped when he heard the chatter of my cousins who were approaching the living room. I immediately got up and ran out of their house, headed for my own. I ran to my room and let the feelings of hopelessness, anger and frustration take over my body—just like I did after all of the other incidents that occurred before.

The abuse occurred over a period of years after that and the longer I waited to tell my parents about what was going on, the more it felt like my life was going nowhere. Slowly but surely, I noticed that I was starting to withdraw from having fun with my friends and shying away from contact with others at all costs. I started isolating myself so that I could hurt alone and no one had to experience it. I was angry. I was hurt. I was confused—who would believe me if I spoke up? When I couldn’t be alone any longer, I told my parents…

As if it happened yesterday, I can recall the events of the day I spoke up. On September 11, 2001 at around six o’clock in the morning, I woke up to find my mom in front of the television, watching the news on the planes that were crashing into the Twin Towers in New York City. She was also on the phone with one of my cousins. When she hung up, she sat me in front of her and looked at me with a look that meant she was serious. She told me that the cousin she hung up on told her that my uncle had sexually abused her, and she wanted to know if it happened to me, too. I didn’t need to say a word, she could tell my answer because of the tears that began to spill over my cheeks. I then proceeded to lock myself in my room, more humiliated than anything. The only time I bothered to unlock the door was when my cousin—the one that confessed to my mom earlier—came to talk to me. She told me all the things that happened to her and that the she was feeling the way I was feeling. For the first time in years, I felt comforted…

I started to see a social worker for counseling. Words can’t describe how much better my life seemed to become when I started my counseling sessions. I knew that I could confront my past with others to help guide me along the way. I found that there was no reason for me to feel inferior to my abuser. What he did was wrong and for that he deserved to be punished.

Even after eight years of speaking up, I must admit that I’m still in the healing process. To help me in the healing process, I found that by surrounding myself with good friends and family, I felt nothing could harm me. I know that my friends and family will be there for those times when I need them. It also helped that I researched sexual abuse and read stories from other victims because when I did those things, I didn’t feel alone. Knowing more about sexual abuse has made me want to speak up more against it. Now, I don’t feel embarrassed about talking about sexual abuse; as long as it helps others, I’ll keep doing it.

To those who have been sexually abused, don’t feel discouraged because you feel like you can’t speak up. There is someone out there who will help.

To those who know a victim of sexual abuse, don’t hesitate to listen to them when they need to talk about it. Listening is sometimes the best form of comfort.

Finally, to those that once felt like sexual abuse would never affect them, don’t hesitate to learn the facts about sexual abuse. I once felt that I could never be sexually abused but it did happen. None of us choose what our lives hold for us.

For more information on sexual abuse:

The Sex Abuse Treatment Center
Harbor Court
55 Merchant Street, 22nd Floor
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813

24-Hour Hotline: 808. 524. RAPE (808. 524. 7273)
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