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Sexual Assault During Childhood Description
Sexual assault during childhood often results in the loss of many things - childhood experiences, trust, innocence, self-esteem, sexual autonomy, a sense of power, and healthy relationships with family members (especially if the perpetrator was a family member).

Incest is a type of sexual assault during childhood in which sexual contact occurs between persons who are related (i.e. parents and children, uncles/aunts and nieces/nephews, etc.). It is considered by many experts to be a particularly damaging form of sexual abuse because it is perpetrated by individuals whom the victim trusts and depends upon.


Writing Prompts
“Families aren’t supposed to…”
“Now that I’m an adult…”
“When I was little, I thought it was my fault…”

Delia from Sacramento, California| 02-June-08
I remember a lot of things from my past... more than most people, I think. Like walking down a flight of stairs in a museum at a school field trip at age 8, picking blossoms off a particular tree at my grandmother's, researching Jaques Cartier in a big library... all clear and vivid as though they were all pivotal moments in my life. They weren't.

I also remember, but not as vividly, when i was assaulted 7 years ago. I was 11.

It was just some night, some random, unremarkable night that was supposed to be lost in all the other numerous nights in my life. But it ended up being a rather memorable one.

It was nearing 4AM and I woke up.. I can't remember if I had heard something or felt something. Anyway, I just remember lying in my bed and trying to get my eyes to adjust to the darkness. In my head, I have an image of a pair of legs stepping into my bedroom through my bedroom window. I'm not sure if I created this image or if it's real. Next, I just remember a really heavy body lying on top of me and this man shoving the side of my face into my pillow and poking the blade of a box-cutter into my neck.

He said something along the lines of "shut up or i'll kill you and whoever comes to help you."

The rest of it is just flashes of what he did to me while he was there. What I remember the most are the names he called me. Fat pig. Disgusting. Pathetic. No one is ever going to believe I was raped because I'm so fat. Blah, blah, blah. He raped me with things he found in my room, made me perform oral sex on him. He kept saying he wouldn't stop until I cried but I know I must have been crying the entire time. I still don't know why it wasn't loud enough for any of my family to hear. Anyway, it felt like he was there for hours but it was only for 28 minutes.

I blocked the entire thing out until it suddenly came back to me when I was 13. I told my mom. That was the start of a really tough few years. I had already attempted suicide a few times before that and I did again for the last time after that. I've been battling depression and PTSD for awhile but I'm finally normal again. Well...as normal as I can be. I go days, even weeks, without thinking about that night. And, honestly, it feels like it happened to someone else.

It feels mostly like it was a catalyst to even younger childhood memories and lack there of. I feel growing up without a father and several seriously lame step-fathers has affected my relationship with men substantially. Also, incidences of my brother, older than me by 3 years. My therapist says what he did to me was normal but I don't think so. I've completely separated from my brother. He's a meth addict and kind of a loser. I'll never forget this time I overheard my mom telling him to do a chore...he complained and said "delia doesn't ever do anything"...my mom said it's because i'm going through a lot (I had just come out about my assault) and just as I walk up stairs to the room they?re arguing in, he said "who would rape her? she's fat!".

Ever since then, I?ve been battling with anorexia/bulimia. It isn't because of my brother, though. I wouldn't ever give him that much power. I'm 18 now and that part of my life is so behind me, I don't even recognize it.

Though, I still am on anti-depressants, still binge and purge, still have never had a boyfriend, still haven't been kissed-let alone have sex, still crave attention/affection from older men and still can't sleep unless I have a locked door, window and am on the second floor.

Anonymous from Canton, Ohio| 13-January-08
I was placed in foster care for neglect at the age of five. They said that i also was at a risk of being molested or even was molested in the home in which i was. I never remember being molested there but do recall a molestation incident that has bothered me for years.

I was in a home where there was only one child and and he was eleven or twelve years old at the time and got everything that he wanted.

It all started in the basement one evening. He said that he had to go to the bathroom and that he wanted me to follow him in. I said no but as soon as the words came out of my mouth he punched me in the stomach and told me to come with him. So of course i went with him. When we went into the bathroom he closed and locked the door and told me to undress him. I said no and again i was punched in the stomach so i immediatley started to undress him. He rubbed my head and face with the tip of his penis and said "Good Boy." I ran upstairs to the bathroom and threw up and then started off to bed being that it was almost time for it anyway. He followed me up less then five minutes later with a huge grin on his face. He didn't bother me for a few days and then he started again.

All of the kids (me, my two sisters and him) where all roomed in one small room. Every night he and i were put to bed in bunks while both of my sisters were in cribs. Him on the top and me on the bottom bunk. Normally though by the time that he went to bed i was already asleep and he couldn't do anything with me. However, this night it was a Saturday and i was allowed to stay up being that we had nothing to do the next day.

When bed time was announced he immeadiately jumped up and offered to get me ready for bed and asked if i could sleep in his bunk with him. When i was asked if that was okay by the foster dad he stared me down and gave me that death look. I said yes that that would be real fun. So that's what happened.

We went to bed together that night. Both covered up under the same blanket. Both feeling each others' body heat moving between the two of us. He waited until he saw the door close after we were "tucked in" by his dad before he made his move on me.

He started rubbing my tummy and then took off my shirt. He started to rub my legs and my thighs before he made a slow caressing movement over my penis and then down my pants. I very clearly remember this as the first erection that i have ever gotten. I will never forget this at all. He continued his caressing of my penis and all i could do was lay there as he started giving me oral sex. The worst part was that i just laid there and let him do that to me. Finally he lifted off of me and he climbed back up to my head and laid there for a minute before he took my hand and put it down his pants and told me if i didn't he would make sure that i wouldn't ever find a mom or dad because he had connections with everyone. I did all he asked of me that night.

Even now being 19 i keep replaying that night over and over in my head and i feel it has completely changed the way i see myself in my sexual life. I feel inadiquate, used and so messed up i begin to question my orientaion and whether i'm any good at it. I guess only time will tell.

Rosalie from Portland, Oregon | 25-May-07
I spoke last night PSU's "Take Back the Night." This is an adapted version of what I said:

I think if you ask my friends to tell you a little bit about me they’d say: I’m friendly, compassionate, and perhaps annoyingly perky. I might also tell you that I have been married for 23 years to a man I respect, love and admire, I’d tell you about my two amazing adult daughters who inspire me and whose company I absolutely delight in.  I’d brag about the job I have that I look forward to going to everyday, I’d confess that I’m obsessed with Disney, and I’d be sure to tell you how much I truly love my life!

 It would only be as an after thought that I would tell you I was a victim of incest.

My younger self could never have imagined my life today. It was out of my reach and completely alien. My home life was chaotic to say the least: My father was an alcoholic with a violent temper and a gambling problem he had in the past, blackened my mother’s eyes, knocked out her teeth and once beat her so bad she needed to be soaked out of the clothes that were sticking to her wounds.  Ironically he was the only person to say that he loved me. My mother was bitter and overwhelmed to say the least. She had a temper too and once stabbed my father. She often told me that I was ugly and stupid, but she worked everyday and made sure that the rent got paid and the groceries were bought.

My older brother unfortunately had all the worst of these traits with none of the good, and certainly none of the love. Heady with power, he was responsible for watching me while my parents worked. He got to decide when I woke, when I could go to the bathroom, what I could eat and how much I could eat. He screamed and shoved and belittled me till I felt like I was nothing. When I was twelve he added sexual abuse to that tyranny and whatever sanity my fragile world had just crumbled.

Telling just didn’t seem like an option, my parents were already too consumed by their own lives, I feared my telling would tip the entire precarious balance, plus I believed my father was violent enough to kill my brother if I told him and I couldn’t bear to have that on my conscience.

The worst day of my life was an afternoon when I had done everything I could to keep my brother at bay. That night when my father came home (already angered by something), my brother told him I’d refused to do anything he told me to do. Now, my brother and I both knew that what he’d told me to do was give him head….but that was beside the point. My father came at me in a rage, took off his belt and started to beat me with it saying I was disobeying my brother and by disobeying my brother I was disobeying him. My brother stood behind him and smirked. I’ll never forget: I was eye level with my father’s revolver (he was, crazily enough, licensed to carry a gun) crouching and trying to keep my face from being hit and all I could think of was…if I tell him what my brother is doing, hell take that gun out right now and blow his brains all over the kitchen floor. But I couldn’t do it, and because my brother knew this, the abuse got worse.

The shame that I was “allowing” this to happen drove me nearly insane. I felt responsible and dirty. It would be years before I felt capable of taking care of myself.

I left home at 16 and had all the classic self destructive behaviors you can think of….drugs, lying, sexual promiscuity….It took awhile after leaving the abusive situation to fully digest it. Frankly, it was hardest then…while in the situation it was all I could do to endure it…….but afterwards, I had time to think….and I didn’t want to.

Then when I was 20 a funny thing happened….I fell madly in love. And for the first time I saw a world filled with possibility:

And when I got pregnant I realized that with my husband’s help, I could create the exact family life that I’d always wanted. That meant, I got to stay home and raise my babies, it meant trips to the library and the park and the zoo. I nurtured myself as I nurtured them. We had dinners around the table and we all talked, and talked.  It was, it is a safe, haven!!! I was and have remained in heaven.

I had the house all the kids came to, I was the parent the kids confided in, my home is filled with laughter, compassion, love and the smell of chocolate chip cookies.

I wake up every day grateful for the ordinary things people take for granted. I think that is a gift I’ve been given.

My family is grown now, and I am discovering who I am outside of Mom. I’m taking classes at PCC, I’ve been traveling quite a bit and I’m feeling like a winner.

I looked up the word survivor and it says: to continue to live in spite of… I prefer to think of myself as a thriver: someone who prospers and flourishes. Thank you…

Monique from Milwaukee, Wisconsin | 07-May-07
I don't have the courage to put my real name, so i put my middle name. But if anyone was to see my email address they would know who i am. My favorite singer is Patti Labelle.

I have several stories about sexual abuse that i had went through. But there is one recent in particular. It was 2006 in mid May. This young man had got shot to death in the middle of the street a few steps away from my house. I was on my way home from Walmart. I was hot, tired, and thirsty. Before i could get across the street, i noticed that i couldn't get on the block. I have a cousin who lives around the corner from me. So because i couldn't get in the house i went to his house. He's 53, i was only 17. This was last year. Anyway, I was walking over to his house and i saw my cousin’s car and his daughter. So i was really excited because i don't get to see her often. I really love my cousin. Even though she is older than me, we get along. When i got there, her father was looking me up and down like he always does. But i didn't pay him any attention. He used to always tell me he was going to get me. And he did this day. His daughter told me she was leaving to get some food. I told her i was going to stay there and wait. To make a long story short, her father performed oral sex on me. He told me that if i didn't let him do it to me he was going to rape me. When he was finished he tried to rape me. But i kept telling him to stop. He finally told me that if i didn't let him do it he was going to take it. I was scared. And i had to stay the night over his house. In his bed. I was so scared. And i got up in the morning, went home, took a shower, got dressed, then went to school. I got up and proceed with my life like nothing happened. It wasn't as bad when it first happened. But when i looked in the mirror and see myself, i seen what happened. It was hard. Right after that, i started to dance for money. I mean, that was like the last straw for me. I just felt like my life was over.

Now it's worse. I feel like i want to do things i shouldn't do. Like have sex. I don't have sex, but i feel like if i do, then it'll help feel the void of the sexual abuse. Even though it seems stupid it's not. I used to wonder why little girls act out the way they do. When you ask most of them have they ever been molested or sexually abused they say yes. I told myself that i would never act like that. But the more things started to happen to me, i found myself feeling that way. I just acted like they weren't there though. But i feel vulnerable a lot. I don't like that. That's what sexual abuse does to you. It makes you feel like a little girl in a corner with a Sunday dress on. And the abuser is standing over you getting ready to assault you. That's how i feel a lot. That's the best way i can describe it. It's not a good feeling. I feel like men can always overpower me. Don't get me wrong, i don't let ANYONE push me around. But it's just when a man asks me to sleep with them, which i never do, they always tell me what they want to do to me. And that makes me feel like that little girl again. Trapped. So i get out of that situation. But it’s going to be a hard battle for my intimate life.

Anonymous from Spokane, Washington | 23-March-07
I am a sophomore at Eastern Washington University. Last year I was raped in my dorm room. I am a male student who was taken advantage of by a female student.

Some people say this can't be true men can't be raped; however this situation occurs quite frequently. I was drinking one night back in November of 2005, and I headed to the third floor of my residence hall. When I encountered a community advisor (CA), I ran into a room that was open. I remember waking up with my pants and boxers around my ankles I recall intense pain. I opened my eyes to a female who lived in my dorm she was performing oral sex on me.

I tried to talk but passed out after only a few words. I woke up 3 hours later with her staring at me; my body was still exposed. I do not have a clear idea of all that happened to me, and I probably never will.

I spent many hours in counseling, for suicide attempts and drinking problems. I have had many STD screenings that were excruciatingly painful. I struggle with flashbacks of the rape, as well as the idea that I am dirty and can't get clean. The fact remains that male sexual assault does happens more often than people would like to think.

There is a need for more awareness on male sexual assault victims and support for the fight against male sexual assault.

anonymous from New York, NY | 10-April-06
I was raped when I was eight. At the time, I was completely alone in the world. I’ve never told anyone all the details. That’s the short version.

Now for the long version.

I was eight; we’ve established that. I was alone in the world because I was in foster care. I had been placed there temporarily after my mother deliberately overdosed on prescription medicine. Whether it was a cry for help or a genuine suicide attempt I will never know, because she never mentioned it again. I just remember standing in the bathroom with her, watching, stunned, as she shook handful after handful of pills from the orange bottle and gulped them down with tap water.

That night when they took me away, they asked if I followed a religion. I told them I did not believe in God. I couldn’t at that point.

The foster home was nice, as far as these things go. The family was rich; I knew that without knowing what rich really meant. They had three biological children, a slew of adopted ones, and two long-term foster kids. I was placed in a room downstairs with one of the adoptees.

I don’t remember when he started bothering me. He was one of the other kids in the house, and he was fifteen years old.

It started simply. He’d flash me in the pool. He’d tell me I couldn’t read his comic book collection unless I touched him. He made me uneasy, and I tried to avoid him whenever I could.

It happened in the summer. That I remember. We were alone in my room. I was in a swimsuit because I had been outside with the rest of the kids having a water fight. He had followed me in, and said something, and then he was on top of me. I told him I didn’t want to get pregnant, even though I was eight and knew it was impossible. I thought it might stop him. He shrugged, got up long enough to turn me over, and told me in that case, he’d do it a different way.

It hurt. The pain was blinding. I tried to scream, but he clamped his hand over my mouth. I tried to get up, but he was far larger and heavier than I was. There was no way to get away.

There’s a gap here. I don’t know how long it went on, or how it ended. I only recall finding myself on the floor, blinking as one of my foster sisters asked me why on earth I was lurking in my room all by myself. I remember glancing toward the other door and seeing that it was wide open, as if someone had just made a hasty retreat. And I remember getting up, the pain still burning deep within me, and going back outside.

I knew that what happened was very, very wrong, but I kept it to myself. Frankly, even if I had wanted to tell someone, there would have been no one to tell. The social worker that checked in on me every few months spoke to my foster parents, never to me directly. I was the low kid on the totem pole; the others in the house were not likely to side with me. I also feared that if I told anyone, I’d be shipped off to another home that might be even worse. I’d be a troublemaker. I didn’t want to tell my mother when I saw her or spoke to her by phone, because I knew she’d completely lose it again.

He had his own methods of keeping me quiet. He delighted in torturing me, in taking my dolls and pretending to wreck them. His favorite trick was to grab my face in his hand and press down. It was excruciating. I would flail my arms and cry, and he would laugh. My foster parents saw but never intervened; nor did the other children. This reinforced my belief that I was not among friends.

I tried to solve the problem in my own way: I made sure I was never left alone with him again. I befriended some of the other little girls in the neighborhood and spent as much time as I possibly could at their homes. Occasionally when I walked back to the house and I saw a car coming, I would stand in the middle of the street, watching it come closer, daring it to hit me. For the most part, though, I pushed the rape down, away from me, into the part of my mind littered with memories of pill overdoses and screaming and being locked into closets and slapped. It eventually stayed there and I went on my way. I still swam. I still hung out with the kids. When our foster parents piled us all into the station wagon for an outing, sometimes I ended up sitting next to him. I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to cause a fuss.

I didn’t think about the rape again, not then, not when the social worker told me that my mother had proven herself to be a fit parent again and I could go home, not years later. All the trauma made itself known in different ways, however. For the first year after I came home from foster care, my face twitched. I would not wear underwear. I couldn’t stand anything touching me there. When my mother insisted, I ripped the underwear to bits so that it hung loosely. I did not outgrow this habit until I started sleeping over at friends houses and worried that they would comment.

As I grew into a teenager and then an adult, I became very adept at forgetting all about the rape. On the outside, I was a well-adjusted, happy girl with friends, talents and a bright future. I excelled academically and professionally. I had many friends at school, but confided my deepest secrets to none of them. I couldn’t. I had lost my voice.

Casual sex was easy; intense personal commitment was not. I sabotaged all prospects of romance. If a boy were seriously interested in me, I would find a way to turn him off. If I made out with someone at a party or had a one-night stand, I would not return his calls the next day, or the day after that. All of my crushes, in hindsight, were on men that were completely unattainable for one reason or another. When I went to college, I aligned myself strictly with gay men, because I knew they would not attempt to harm me.

I still found ways to harm myself, of course. When I was twelve, I developed anorexia. I began self-injuring around the same age. I couldn’t cut myself at first, so I’d take random pills from the medicine cabinet all at once, hoping they’d make me sick. When I was fifteen, I swallowed hydrogen peroxide, not really caring if it killed me or not.

I could only deal with the obvious problems - the self-injury and eating disorder - and I finally did. By the time I finished college I had conquered them both, more or less. When I was in my mid twenties, though, a traumatic conflict made my repressed memories return. Flashbacks became a daily occurrence. Whenever I heard Sting’s “Fortress Around your Heart,” a song that I had often heard in the foster home, and one that I strongly associated with the rape, I burst into tears. I began cutting again. I couldn’t stand being near other people. The entire year was a dark blur. I went to work, occasionally went out with friends, and lived in a complete emotional vacuum. It was a long road back to normalcy.

How did I get back? I’m not sure. I still can’t tolerate people touching my face or standing behind me. GYN visits are tough. I’m extremely slow to enter relationships. I trust very few people. I’ve managed to stop the flashbacks and fight most of my demons, though.

In my mind, my childhood is divided into two distinct sections: before and after. One is bright and happy; the other is filled with guilt, shame and self-loathing. It’s taken me a while to stop blaming myself. All the questions have rattled around in my mind, over and over again. I could have avoided the foster home, I could have run away once I got there, maybe I did something to make myself a target, I was a smart kid, how could I have fallen into that?

I mourn for my wounded childhood self; for all the trauma and abuse she had to endure. I know now that she did the best she could, and that nothing that occurred was her fault. She blocked out the memories because it was the only way she could go on at the time. She survived the only way she knew how.

I was raped when I was eight. At the time, I was completely alone in the world. I’ve never told anyone all the details. I might never be able to come forward and explain it all to the people I love. I do hope, however, that by telling the story, I will be able to put it to rest.

Jacqui from Aberdeen, Scotland | 30-August-05
My rapes and abuse started when i was six years old. I was out the front of my house and a stranger picked me up off the street and carried me into his car. He took me to some cliffs that were beside my house. There he undressed me. I was still in my school uniform. He stripped me totally naked then started feeling me all over my body. He then tried to rape me but he said i was too tight so he pulled my legs apart and spat into my vagina. He also took out a tub of vaseline and stuck his fingers up my vagina. Even though i was just six i remember everything how sore his fingers were but that was nothing. Then he did rape me having his big penis inside of me hurt so bad i was screaming and crying for my mummy but he kept saying i had to shut up and keep quiet because if my mum found out she would send me away. Once he had finished he took some tissue paper and wiped me with it as i was bleeding and then he drove me home and dropped me off round the corner from my house and he said remember don’t tell anyone as you will be sent away and punished if you do. I believed him and didn’t tell anyone. Just after this my uncle started molesting me. He used to make me dress up and call him my special uncle as he touched me and fingered me and then his molestation got worse. He was forcing me to perform oral sex on him and he would do things to me. Then the molestation turned into rapes and this lasted till i was ten. By this point i was feeling really low about myself and was very isolated. Then when i was 13 the worst sexual experience happened. A family friend started abusing me. He raped me at a family party first. Everyone was downstairs really drunk while i was upstairs as this man raped me. The next day he came over and whispered to me that he was really sorry and asked me to go out for a walk with him so he could say sorry and make it up to me. I went with him now i don’t know why but at the time i thought i was doing it for the best. As he was apologizing he took me into a field. There he pushed me down pinned me to the ground and performed sexual acts on me including rape. Once he had finished with me he said, "now i know that you will do anything i tell you to do i will be getting you to do it lots more.” From then on until i was 15 he would call me up, get him to meet me where he would take me and rape me. One time he raped me in a barn. He tied me up for a whole weekend and continuously abused and tortured me. He cut me, burnt me with cigarettes, raped me and made me do humiliating things. I thought this was bad but then he sold me to a local drug dealer. Some of his friends that were on drugs would come and rape me for fun or i would be used for sex for them to get drugs or money. While i was being raped i became pregnant. I knew i wanted to keep the baby but i didn’t tell anyone about it but i was secretly hoping this would provide some hope for me. But stupidly i still went to get raped and abused and one night they raped me so bad i miscarried. I still carry feelings of guilt and shame about this and i don’t think that will ever change. Then i was raped when walking home from my work one night. This man grabbed me and raped me in the middle of a park.

I still don’t understand why i was raped but at least it shows how strong we all are that we survived.

Kate Custer from Eugene, OR | 26-February-05
My name is Kate and I am now 32 years old. Until last year, I had remembered only a couple things from my childhood (prior to age 12). My family relocated when I entered the fifth grade and that was one of the excuses I gave for remembering little of my life before that time. I had also excused my lack of memories by pulling out the old labels people had put on me - oversensitive, moody, and irritable. That relocation must have affected me on a very deep level, that’s all.

I was the misfit middle child. Occasionally I joked that something really horrible must have happened to me because I couldn’t remember anything that my friends could: their favorite 1st grade teacher, their best friend in 3rd grade. I stopped short of pursuing it further because, honestly, I was sad that I couldn’t remember any of these things that made others feel so special. So I kept joking, quietly wondering but always joking. My life continued this way until just after my 31st birthday.

For two years I had been working as a massage therapist (career shot #3 I am also a teacher and an artist). In March 2004, I was following one of my professional interests, a form of energy healing known as Reiki. In my 2nd level training weekend, I found myself suddenly gifted. Flashbacks.

These flashbacks involved me being attacked/abused. The first memories came in flashes literally a second or two. It wasn’t until a moment later that I would realize

a) holy crap (I used different words, multiple times loudly), that was ME,

b) I was maybe 5 ( younger?!) at the time, and

c) I was being attacked.

And then came the real fun - the sobbing started. Professionals might label these moments emotional releases. In telling this to others (family, friends even), I have found myself referring to that level of crying as exactly that, a release. It is the look on their faces that compels me to soften my language. Even when we are victims of abuse and violence (physical, emotional, mental, or any form), we are often compelled to soften the blow for others. Why is that?! Why is there shame or fear? Why is there anything blocking us from shouting about this crap from the highest rooftop? Of course, this says nothing about the desire (felt at the gut-wrenching level) to find someone willing to listen and believe.

Something I have learned in my own healing and in the years of working with people so intimately (through both massage and reiki) is that my intuition is the only thing I can truly trust. There is a reason I get that feeling when I’m in a situation where I have choices and a reason I get that other feeling when I don’t go with my first inclination. It is this feeling that confirmed these to be memories from my own reality and not some morbid fantasy or remnant of a horror movie.

I have had to rely on this intuition of mine with all my strength and trust. As is typical with many abuse survivors, some of those close to me have challenged my memory recall. I have challenged MYSELF on these memories. Restful moments only come when I face my fears and accept the responsibility of being one of the only people who believes this stuff every really happened. One of the greatest challenges is accepting that it doesn’t matter who else believes me. Even if I am alone in this, I KNOW the truth of my past and that is all that matters.

The next challenge is to face it and release those parts of it that I no longer need. I am the only one with the power to turn myself from a victim into a survivor. That is my choice - I am a survivor. Living my life from anywhere else, a place of pity or martyrdom, for instance is to shortchange myself severely and allow the pattern of abuse and victimization to continue.

In the grand scheme, I consider myself lucky. My abusers were not in my family. But they were abusers, nonetheless and regardless of the details, some part of me knew enough to find the lockbox and shove this stuff in. The problem is that there are other memories in that lockbox now, too. An example: the first flashback involved three details: familiar wallpaper (childhood bedroom), a figure approaching me, and I was in a small body compared to my adult self.

The first sobfest came from realizing that something DID happen to me (initially I had no clue what, only that it was something really bad). The second sobfest came because as I worked with a professional healer (using Reiki, acupressure, and other non-Western techniques to relax my body and quiet my mind), I was remembering more details of that bedroom. I remembered the trees and apples on the wallpaper.

I remembered the bed closer to the door, the size of the room I shared with my sister, the look of the room when the sun shone through the white curtains at the far end. I remembered the scent of the air in the hall, the feel of my feet on the staircase and my hand on the banister on the way down to the living room. The retrieval of the general memories of that house I inhabited until I was 11 have been a gift that is more moving, in some ways, than the abuse recall.

Every time I decided to pursue more details of each memory (there are four memories of abuse, the remaining childhood memories remain mostly hidden and the work to unearth them is slow), I wrote them out. Then I wrote my reaction to them. Then I kept writing. I found the more I wrote the more I had to say.

As I approach the one-year anniversary (first day of Spring, as the best luck in the world would have it J) of these flashbacks surfacing, I have realized something. My abusers took away my voice. I was too scared (and too young) at the time to do anything more than obey them. But now I am safe and now I have a voice. It is time for me to reclaim it.

The thing that has kept me writing is music and caffeine, of course. For many people, music is an inspiration, a motivation. The first song is probably considered old to you Jane readers, but it gave me the kick in the pants I needed to keep writing when I started to think, who is going to care about this crap anyway? (the victim role returns, with a vengeance, on a regular basis). The first song was Destiny’s Child’s, “Survivor”. Nearly anything by U2 came second and for this article I started writing while listening to James” Someone’s Got it in for Me” and Sarah McLachlan’s “Dear God”.

Now that a year has passed and my healing continues, I decided to turn my writing into a book that will be geared toward anyone who has suffered abuse in their past and anyone who knows someone and loves them anyway. That may sound absurd, but many of you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Dee from Bernardsville, NJ | 02-March04
For years, my grandfather watched me while my parents were at work and he became my favorite person in the world. We had our own little world whenever I visited him. When I turned six and started attending grade school, he became different. One time, we took a ride in his blue pick-up and he pulled over on the side of a deserted road and he started rubbing my crotch and began to teach me the word "horny". He said that was how I made him feel and that it was a good feeling. I became disgusted with myself for letting him touch me in that way but, to keep him happy with me and wanting to spend time with me, I continued letting him do that to me. After all, he was my favorite person. He started making up games for us to play, especially ones where I had to sit on his lap. During one of these games, my grandmother walked in. She took me out of the room and told me that I was a bad girl for doing that to my grandfather. Meanwhile, my grandfather wanted me to sneak away and go back to him. When my grandmother caught me, he got angry with me and refused to talk to me all day. The day that he raped me is a day I've been running from for my whole life. It started when a neighbor of his stopped by for a few minutes. As he was leaving, he gave me a kiss on the cheek. My grandfather got so jealous that he went inside the house and did not want to talk to me. Then my grandmother forgot a few things at the grocery store so she left. My grandfather came back out to where i was sitting and he told me he had something to show me. He took me into the back room and sat on his bed. He pulled down his pants and told me to touch his penis. I did, even though my whole body felt like running away. The look in his eyes was so dark, it didn't seem as if i was looking at my grandfather. He proceeded to put me on the bed and he raped me. It must have taken less than ten minutes but it felt like it was two hours that i was on that bed. He finally got off of me, fixed himself, and brought me to another room where we played cards like nothing happened. I was only seven. I'm almost 21 and I still have nightmares and feelings that he is right next to me.

Kimbra from Ft. Thomas, KY | 19-January-04
Last year, when I was thirteen when i was raped. I was staying the night at my best friend's house. Her grandparents were at the hospital so it was her and me at the house. She called her sister at her dads house and asked her to come over and stay the night. Her brother brought the sister over, he was high and drunk when he got there. My best friend, her sister and I were playing flashlight hide-n-seek in the house. Later on we all were watching Punked'. My best friend and her sister fell asleep, her brother and I were still watching Punked'. He started asking me uncomfortable questions. He asked, "Whats your name?" I said, "Kimbra." He asked,"How old are you?" I said, "Thirteen." He asked, "Are you a virgin?" I said, "Yes and happy to be so." He got up off the couch and sat on the floor where I was sitting, he started rubbing my legs I moved them closer to me where then his hand was not touching me, he started messing with my belly button, I then rolled on my side. He got up and went to the bathroom when he came back he sat down on me pulling down my pants. I was twisting and turning trying to get away telling him to get off, but by that time he was inside of me. He began to rape me. I was in so much shock and pain I didn't move or know what to do. What I did do was tell him to stop, I told him three times and he didn't stop. When I said stop the last time he glared at me in a way that if i would say or do anything then I would get hurt. I finally got sick and tired of him scaring and taking control of me. I kneed him and pushed him off of me and ran up stairs to the bathroom and locked my self in there for approximately two hours. After the two hours I went down stairs and pulled my blankets down by my friend and a wall, I sat there against the wall looking around and trying to make out of what just happened. When everyone wokeup I was still sitting there wide- eyed with fear.

Jessica from southampton | 11-November-02
Iam 15 and was raped by a 20 year old male I'd seen him a few times he'd just moved in to my street he asked me one day while I was home alone to see his house and that my adive on the colours on the walls would be good I said ok then he shut the door and held a gun at me and told me take my clothes off then he held me down and stuck his penis in me then raped me for 10 minutes then he got off me and told me to suck his dick so I did I ws so scared then he went in the kitchen and got sleeping pills and put me to sleep when I woke up he was rapping me again then he left.

Joyful Girl Zero from Southampton, MA | 22-October-02
Once upon a time there was a little girl called Laura Mary. Laura was eight years old, in her second year of Junior School. Laura wasn't like other children. She was different, special, but she didn't know why.

Laura both loved and hated school. She was a very bright child and loved to learn. However, she had no friends at all. But she loved to read and so would do that at playtime. She had a fantastic imagination which would transport her to other worlds whenever she wished. She preferred to be alone, anyway.

Unfortunately, these qualities didn't help against the bullies. Laura was bullied by about five different gangs. The teachers didn't want to know because it might damage the school's reputation. Laura found heself constantly mocked, teased, laughed at, pushed and hit. Sometimes the children would say, "Laura, I want to be friends!" and her heart would leap. But she always found it to be a horrid joke. Laura was so happy and popular at her old school. She wondered what dreadful thing she had done. But she caught on pretty quickly that the crime was being different.

One day Laura wrote a poem about a tree. All the adults made a huge fuss of it. It was in the newspaper and got published. This made Laura so unspeakably happy. It then dawned on her that poetry was to be her whole life, her only true love. It took the place of people.

But Laura was not an unhappy child. She had herself,and she got by.

And, now, I come to the real purpose of this story. It was a day in autumn, just after Laura's publication. She was wandering around a small, almost deserted area of playground, quite lost in her own thoughts.

Suddenly she spotted a group of boys who were playing football. A pale, dark-haired boy had kicked the ball in her direction and now the boys were tearing after it, towards her. They had soon raced past, but one boy hung behind.

He was the boy who had kicked the ball over at her in the first place. He was odd-looking, grey-coloured with freckles, almost blue, like egg mottles. He was in the top year so she did not know him very well. But what she did know, she didn't like. He always seemed to be hanging round her, and he wore a creepy expression.

Subtle, and wearing a grin that made Laura flinch, he indulged himself, and did what he wanted to do.

Laura sat down on the bench he had shoved her against. She felt suddenly cold, and distanced from the world. Life was merely a bad dream.

Laura was confused. She didn't understand what had happened, but she knew, somehow, that it was wrong. She went to Vicky, a girl who quite liked Laura and felt sorry for her, but wouldn't be her friend because it would interfere with her own popularity.

Vicky looked deadly serious. "That's bad," she said, and before Laura could summon her senses, she was standing in front of her teacher. Vicky whispered in the teacher's ear. The teacher looked at Laura strangely, as if Laura were now different from how she was before. "Is this true?" asked the teacher. Laura nodded. She felt suddenly ashamed.

The teachers all whispered to each other. Laura was sure they were talking of what a dirty girl Laura was. She was marched through the classrooms of the boys year-group to identify the culprit. She couldn't bear to look him in the face again, and she didn't want any more people to know of what an awful girl she was. So she murmured that she wasn't sure who had done it.

And the matter was dropped. Just like that. No-one ever mentioned it again.

Now please excuse the little girl. She has to go slit her wrists again.

Anonymous from Long Beach, CA | 05-August-02
i was 13 and my parents surprised me with a horse for my birthday! one of the people who had been invited to the surprise party was a man named bob. he was a dps (department of public safety) police officer and lived at the ranch where my horse would be staying and where i would be coming to take lessons. my mother had become good friends with him and trusted him. so over a period of time i came to trust him too and considered him a friend. one fall my parents were out of town on vacation and we were at home with a babysitter. she would drive me out every day and leave me and come back a few hours later to pick me up. one day she was very late. it was getting dark and i went up to bob's house to see if i could use the phone to call her. when i told him this he quickly said that she had called and said she was going to be late and that he was going to take me home. he asked me to wait while he finished watching a movie on the tv. so i sat down on the couch. we were laughing about something when he grabbed me as if he was going to hug me (which he had never done) and suddenly i was on the floor with him on top of me kissing me. i was terrified and didn't know what to do. i tried to not let him kiss me and struggled to get up but i knocked my head on the coffee table. he kept kissing me and held me down with one hand while he struggled to get my jeans down. he fingered me and raped me and after he was done told me to go clean up in his bathroom. i stumbled to the bathroom and grabbed a washcloth and wiped myself off. when i came back out to the tv room he was already dressed in his police uniform calmly pouring us some iced tea, as if nothing had happened. i was in shock. he drove me home in his police car and told me to be sure and not tell anyone or else we would get in big trouble. i didn't tell and the abuse continued until i was 16. he became even closer with my family. my mother knew what was going on and many friends suspected something but nobody ever did anything. i had few friends in highschool because i was so ashamed of my "relationship" with this man. he had actually brain washed me into thinking i was having an affair with him. during this time he had married and had a new stepdaughter. she and i became close friends even though we were complete opposites. he was also abusing her. i lost all sense of my self and after high school i just wanted to get away from my parents, from that town. i got involved with a controlling man who was old enough to be my father. he took advantage of me, raped me, and mentally abused me for 9 years before i escaped. i knew that i needed help but had no money for counseling and no one who understood. i started dating and would go out with guys even when i knew they weren't right for me. i just wanted someone to like me. this led to trouble. i was date raped and to this day believe i was minutes away from being killed by a guy i had not wanted to go out with but my friends told me he was soooo nice. not long after that i moved away and by a total fluke, ended up telling my parents about my abuse. it has been a 2 year long battle of counseling and depression and illness. before i thought that none of this had had any effect on my life. i now realize that it was my life. i was never able to be who i was meant to be because i was so busy just trying to survive, so busy running.

people hear stories of survivors and wonder why they can't just "get on with it", like it's a flu that you can simply take a pill for and be better next week. abuse affects us to our soul. i have had to relearn how to listen and trust my intuition so that i don't get into bad situations. i have had to essentially re-parent myself because parenting isn't something i got a whole lot of. i have had to learn to listen to my body again. i have worked hard to purge the guilt and shame. we need to understand that abuse affects our whole society, our health, and our entire lives. everyone's stories need to be heard. society needs to understand the horrifying size of this epedemic. society needs to know that abuse is not partial to class, sex, or race. society needs to know who these people are that are messing with our children. i was unable to prosecute bob because the statute of limitations was expired. i did an interview on the news in houston, tx hoping that someone else who had been abused would come forward and be able to prosecute. his step-daughter was also interviewed. they are investigating the possibilities of prosecuting. bob is now mayor of a town in texas. the last i heard, he is running for sherriff of the county. why aren't the townspeople chasing him out of there? why hasn't his most recent ex-wife come forward and prosecuted him for molesting her two daughters? i know there are more than two of us.

thanks for having this site so everyone can be heard.

Sarah from New York, NY | 12-July-02
I was ten years old and we'd just moved to a new town. I won't say where it was or when. I felt all alone, none of the kids really seemed to like me. They'd all grown up with one another and I was just an outsider who talked with an accent and didn't understand what was cool and what wasn't. So at school I tried to find a safe place to hide at recess and lunchtime, until my grade 5 teacher told me I could stay in the classroom and help him out if I wanted to.

My mother had gotten divorced a few years ago and I hadn't seen my father since then. This man was like a father to me. I trusted him completely, I probably even loved him. I do know that I would've walked to the ends of the earth if he asked me to.

One day inside his classroom he let me sit at the teacher's desk to see what it was like looking out over the room from there. It was so cool, my ten year old self thought...and I didn't even notice his hand on my thigh. Not until it moved under my skirt anyway. I wasn't sure what he was doing with his hand there, but he was my teacher so whatever it was...well it must've been okay.

He stroked my leg very softly and I just sat there at his desk while he moved his hand further and further up until it was pressed against my knickers. I didn't know what to say so I said nothing. He was my teacher. And he wasn't hurting me.

He started rubbing his hand across my knickers, just stroking me lightly. It felt nice - he was so gentle. Then when he pulled my knickers aside and stroked my bare skin I squirmed and tried to move away but he just held me still and kept on touching me.

The thing is...it felt good. I suppose some part of me knew it was wrong, but...it felt so nice, a 'tickle' feeling is what I called it. A delicious tickle feeling, it made me kind of weak at the knees and it was a good job I was sitting down.

He kept doing it and the feeling kept getting more intense and more intense until I didn't think I could take it anymore. Then he took his finger away and smiling at me, he sucked on it. Telling me I was a good girl, that I tasted so sweet. He gave me a hug before the other children came in from lunch, and I went and sat at my desk. I was there when the other kids came in, as if I'd been sat there all along, but..I knew something they didn't.

And it continued for the rest of the year. I know he gave me my first orgasm. And I know what he did was wrong. I was too young to really know what was going on...but how am I supposed to feel towards this man? It felt good. I looked forward to this time in the schoolday, our special time, when he would touch me that way and make me feel good. I liked it. I wanted it. I even began doing it at home at night. Exploring with my fingers the way he had touched me, trying to mimic it myself and make those feelings happen.

I feel so guilty. I don't know what to do. I enjoyed it...what's wrong with me. Why couldn't I see how wrong it was?

Cokeshia Williams from Rocky Mount, NC | 29-June-02
My story might sound familiar to some. I have met and come in contact with several people going through the same thing I am. I stayed silent for several years. The reason for that is trying to protect how everyone else feels, and not paying attention to my feeling and what I'm going through inside. I guess that's my fault for staying quiet and dragging my loved ones through it. But I'm being opened with myself now. I had just turned 16, and just moved back home with my mother and stepfather. My mom worked second shift which is from 3 to 11pm. So during the day it would be just me and my stepdad home. So one night when I was in my bed asleep, my stepdad came into my room. I always sleep with my door shut at night. So this specific night he came in my room pulled the covers back, pulled up my gown and begin to insert his penis inside of me. By this time I woke with him inside of me. He had me down to the point where I couldn't move. He had my hands behind my head, mind you he's about 230 pounds maybe more. I weighed 140, so he had advantage over me. I tried kicking but he acted like it didn't bother him. I yelled, biting, screaming, nothing helped. He continued doing what he was doing, like I wasn't there. After he finished he told me if I was to tell anyone that he would kill me, and if he went to jail and couldn't do it, that he had sons that could do it. So he got up took the rubber off and walked out of my room. The only thing I could do is lay there and cry. And that's where I stayed until my mom came home. I wanted to tell her but I didn't know how. And at the time I was still going to school, but after that happened I started failing. About a month or two I dropped out of school in the 10th grade. I just couldn't take it anymore. So the following month my Dad and my Stepmother came to pick me up one night. And she asked me had my Stepdad touch me and I told her the truth. She said she knew something was wrong. She experienced the same thing I did, her dad did it to her as a child. So my dad got out the car and went to the door to confront my Stepdad, but he stayed in the house until my mom got home. So soon as she gets out the car I told her. All she did was cry, and it hurt me to see her like this. So my stepmom told me to come on. So she took me down to the Police station and took out a warrant, and in the meantime I stayed with my dad. We heard from the police department only once. They went there twice and haven't been back since. So that time nothing happened to him. I stayed with my dad for about 2 months, but getting back and forth to school was challenging. So eventually, I had to move back home with my mom. When I returned home nothing was said, we didn't talk or speak to each other. My mom started working 1st shift from 7 to 3pm so she would be there when I got home. Then it started getting to the point where he would tell lies on me to my mother. If I asked my mom to drive the car he would tell her no, and I couldn't do it. I guess because I told my mom what happened he figured I couldn't do nothing because she listened to everything he said. Everyone believed I was lying. Till this day they still don't believe me, except my fiancee. So about a year later we moved and it happened for the last time. My mom was working and he did the same routine again. And at the time this happened I was 18. This time nothing was done. A year later I met my fiancee, I told him about it and till this day he stands behind me 100 percent. In 2000 we went and took out another warrant.

Months went by and still I hadn't heard nothing. So I call them and he tells me the detective that the DA said there is not enough evidence to prosecute him. And I didn't know none of this. He said my mom knew about it already. So the detective going have the nerve to tell me after a while Ms.Williams it's best to leave things alone. The nerve of him. Through all of this I still am a beautiful young lady. But I'm letting the world know. A True Survivor.

Tsa from Washington, DC | 10-May-02
My story...well, I remember being touched by a babysitter when I was six years old... he even wanted me to touch him as we lay in my bed under the covers with my younger sister in the next bed... what was happening... why... and why did it feel good... I was sooo young... then in sixth grade, I became my brother's practice girlfriend... why? Why didn't I stop him... why didn't anyone see it? Those are two that I remember but my body remembers something more ... you see my sister and I both exhibit all the classic signs of being abused... she doesn't recall being abused although she was witness to my horrors... we both think that our dad abused us maybe even before we could remember ... we don't recall but our bodies do. Both of us are incredibly deep and beautiful people but relationships with men are deeply hurt by our wounded past. I feel incomplete... missing major pieces of my life and still I go on... God keeps me safe...

I am a survivor... and I thank you for this opportunity to share my story and read the incredible accounts of my sisters... With all the scandal in the Roman Catholic Church... makes me wonder if there are girls/women out there who have been abused by anyone representing the Church... WHY haven't we heard their stories? WHY don't girls get the money in court/ settlements the way boys do?... WHY doesn't the media or anyone cover the cases of sex abuse to girls the way they cover the boys??? I've been wondering if any answers to these questions will come...

Anonymous from Minneapolis, MN | 30-April-02
I was molested by an uncle when my parents had him babysit. As a kid I remember thinking how much it must suck to be Uncle Clinton's kid. I didn't remember the abuse my late teens. My sister was also abused by this relative. When I talked about my experience with her, she forbade me to ever tell our parents. She told me I was always seeking attention, and we never spoke of it again. Maybe she's right, and I did seek attention as a child. I wonder what it was I needed people to notice so bad.

Anonymous from Long Island, NY | 27-April-02
When I was growing up, I didn't have many friends. I remember sitting alone in the corner of class in kindergarten, with a self-esteem the size of my tiny hands. Maybe it was a combination of things. All I know is that my alcoholic father beat me. I can't remember particular incidences. Only the fear that stuck out in my mind is a memory of yelling, and my mother's face covered in blood... I was deathly afraid of him. Only particular incidences would I remember... like sitting next to my door, blocking the screaming coming from outside... his voice approaching... and sobbing... rubbing welts and scars on my body.

This alienation that I felt... made me confused as to who I could trust. When a family friend... two years older than me... decided to slip his hands under my pants when I was seven, I thought affection was supposed to be something I was supposed to be fear. My body froze... I let someone take control over me. I felt his tongue slip in my mouth, and I lay like a stone. Other girls my age nervously giggled on the subject of kissing. I was six.

My mother couldn't be there... she was too busy dealing with her own abuse she got from my father. She would leave me to spend nights there, where I'd lay frozen at 4 in the morning, with his hands... rubbing a numb, limp, lifeless body. He'd enter me with his fingers... see how many he could fit... tell me this wasn't pain... I wanted something other than the pain I felt at home. He'd wake me at night, where I wouldn't budge as he would rub his genitals on my body. He'd take me aside during games of "hide and go seek", and make me touch him.

I hate him for it. I hate how he tried to control me, like other male figures in my life. I hate how he made me feel for six years... and how I felt so dirty... so worthless... with my hateful ugly breasts... vagina... face... ((body)). I was n o t h i n g .

You made me who I am. Fuck you.

Anonymous from South Carolina | 23-April-02
I was eight years old at the time when my mom got married to my step-dad. We moved to South Carolina with him and my mom had a busy schedule. So she wasn't around that much. I had a little 4 year old sister and he tried to do something to her. I went into the bathroom to stop him and he pushed her out and pulled me in. He told me that if I cared so much about my sister then I could take her place. My mom wasn't there at the time and she thought he was at work. Anyway, as time passed by, he had raped me twice. Before it was over with he would take us to stores and put us on top of buggies and steal things and would also take drugs. After a while I had got tired of being pushed around and told my mom about the drugs and stealing. I never told her about the sexual violence until about four years later. Until this day I can't trust any male human being completely to my satisfaction. I probably never will again.

Anonymous from Rifton, NY | 23-March-02
I was raped 20 years ago. I am now 23. It was not my fault. What was I supposed to do? Say, "Daddy, no"? He already had it in his head that he was going to get off by molesting and abusing me.

I do not know the extent of the sexual abuse I suffered. I blocked out the majority of my childhood. I could have been molested and abused every night - I don't know. What I do know is that my innocence was stolen and the core of my being was shattered - before I even had a chance to grow. My formative years were clouded with anger, confusion, and hatred. How could the one person who was supposed to love and protect me do this? How could my father kiss me, touch me, stare at me, fuck me, rape me? How could he?

He was weak and in control, and I was only a baby.

What does it mean for me now? Well, I cannot trust people, even ones I care about. My self-confidence is barely there. My body image is distorted. I cannot have sex or get intimately involved with anyone. I feel crazy a lot of the time. I cannot let people love me. I cannot love myself.

My life has been emotional and mental hell, but I will continue to survive. I will continue to get up in the morning and convince myself that I am not worthless, that people love me, and that I deserve to be happy.

Anonymous from Long Island, NY | 13-March-02
I was sexually abused by my brother, who is twelve years my senior. I don’t even remember how old I was when it happened, but when I try to put together the shattered puzzle pieces, I think it happened when I was around three years old. I was assaulted a couple of times.

I told.

He was “punished”, but continued to baby-sit me, and while an actual assault did not take place again after this, threats, and harassment where used against me daily. I spent the next fifteen years of my life in that hell. I grew from a child into a woman. What I learned in those years, in that situation was this: to fear going to sleep, to constantly feel that I need to hide my body, that no one, not even my family and parents, will protect me from danger, that maybe I’m not really worth being protected. I learned to ignore the fact that I was assaulted so as not to make anyone in my family uncomfortable. I learned to flinch when anyone lays a hand on me, even a friend tapping my shoulder. I learned to disassociate love from sex. I learned to never trust anyone. I learned that I had a horrible secret that must be carefully hidden and disguised, that if anyone found out, they would see that I was tainted, not normal, worthless…

It’s hard to heal from something like this, especially since I get to see the man that abused me all of the time. I get to sit around a dinner table with him for every holiday, and worry that he’ll try to kiss me hello. It’s like the threats and fear never ended.

But I am learning to love myself, to validate my experience, to reclaim my childhood, and recognize my worth.