What I want you to know about being sexually molested by a relative

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here.  Today’s guest post is by Anonymous.

I felt compelled to write about my experience as a victim, in light of the news about the Duggar family. An old wound surfaced and my heart hurt by some of the comments I was reading where people felt that whether or not it took place was inconsequential because it happened a long time ago and it's done now. 

To the best of my recollection, my abuse began when I was three years old. When I was six, my parents divorced and my dad, in trying to do best by everyone, set up monthly visitations with my maternal grandparents. My sister and I were sexually molested by our grandfather for the years that led up to me refusing to return, just before I was twelve. I could not verbalize why I wouldn't go and we were not forced to go back.

When I was fourteen, I thought I saw him and all of the memories of the abuse came flooding back. The abuse was reported and he was tried in the justice system. I was tried by many people who knew him as a pastor in our community. You see, his friends, my biological mother and long time congregants could not understand why this would all come out now. They either didn't believe me or couldn't see the point of bringing this up now because it happened so long ago. "He was a good man", they said. "He had a long history of doing good in the community, how could you bring such shame on him now?" they questioned. Here's where they lost track of the facts.
 
I. did. nothing. wrong.

It may have been a long time for everyone else but it was still a fresh wound for me. Even now, 30 years after the abuse, I still clearly remember dreading night. I hated sleeping with the door open because then I couldn't hear it creak open as a warning of impending doom. I would always try to sleep on the side of the double bed closest to the door so that if he did come, he would take me and not my sister. I can still feel the fast pounding of my heart, hear it in my ears and remember as I lay, holding my breath, in the innocent belief that maybe he would forget I was there if he couldn't see me breathing.

I had extensive therapy in my teen years and I was able to achieve healing of some of the deepest pain. It's still there, though. It's never truly gone. He took a piece of me that I will never get back. There was a void made in my spirit many years ago that will always remain.

When dealing with stories about abuse in families and tight communities, let us always remember that it is the victims' intimate stories we are hearing and therein is where our sympathies should lie. In acknowledging their pain and shame, we give them back the power that was taken from them when they were unable to take it for themselves.



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