Over the past 3 years I have started to speak up about what happened to me as child. When I was younger I felt like I couldn’t say anything because I didn’t want to ruin the family, felt ashamed and I was worried no one would believe me. I still believe that if I had of said something as a child it would have separated the family and I would have blamed myself for that. There was also fear associated with not saying anything, as I didn’t want it to happen to anyone else; my younger sister or younger cousins. As I got older, I didn’t want to be around him but I knew I just had to deal with it. I had the responsibility to protect them and stop it from happening to others in the family.
I remember when my mum and my step dad got married in 2015 and it was a surprise wedding, so nobody knew. I remember spending most of the night crying, everyone thought I was just in shock, but really I was feeling trapped with no way of escaping. It made everything feel so much more real and the hurt wasn’t just going to go away. They were all happy that we were finally a family, but for me I knew I was going to have to deal with this for the rest of my life.
The first person I told was a close friend and they supported and encouraged me to open up to my family. I have never really been one consider us a family, my family will always be my mum, dad, brother and sister. On Christmas Day a few years ago mum and I got into an argument about me not being overly friendly and accepting of my step family. I was generally pretty good but sometimes things just got the better of me and I would remove myself, which made me look rude. I rarely got upset as I didn’t want anyone suspecting anything but this night I did. I had a long conversation with my mum and sister and eventually told them that I had been sexually abused. Although I have spoken up I still struggle with going into any detail about the abuse. I still have a mix of emotions and feelings surrounding my experiences. Re-living what I went through in my head can be difficult but saying it out loud is another level. They were both very supportive and sorry for what had happened. When opening up I was very strong in saying they couldn’t say anything until I was ready. They were respectful of how I wanted to deal with it all.
It has been a long process as telling my dad, step dad and siblings has come with its own challenges. I have needed time to process telling each and every person. It took me two years before I was okay with mum telling my step dad. I could see she was struggling not being able to say anything to him. As long as they have known they have wanted to speak to my step brother and approach him about it. I eventually got to the point where I said they could talk to him but I didn’t want to have anything to do with it. He didn’t deny what happened, but said he didn’t think it would have affected me that much. This made me angry and feel as though I was overreacting and that what had happened was nothing.
I have only recently told my dad about what happened. I couldn’t even express it in words, so I had to write it down on a piece of paper and left it for him to read when I wasn’t there. My dad has also been a great support, and as he is less connected I feel I can talk to him about it without hurting anyone. Its hard with my mum and my step dad as they also have a relationship with him. Especially my step dad as it his son, and he feels it is his responsibility to help him.
I have also disclosed the experience to a few close friends as I find it much easier to talk them as they are removed from the situation and have no relationship with my perpetrator.
For anyone that may be experiencing anything similar or having struggle speaking out please know you are not alone. Just remember you are brave, you have strength and you are empowering. If anything know that by speaking up you may give someone else the strength to speak up as well. My story is now semi out in the open, and I just want to use my experience to make a difference and help others.