Words by Anonymous Photo by Redd Angelo
They always say it’s more likely to happen with someone you know. Someone you trust. Someone who changes your life forever, and not in a good way.
When I was 9 years old, I was your typical nerdy, only child - very quiet, loved books more than I loved toys. But I was also very lonely. I was left to entertain myself a majority of the time. I longed for attention or for someone to play with me. I loved to write little stories about my imaginary life where I had a million friends and got to play Barbies with all the girls at school.
When I was 9 years old, my cousin moved in with us. His parents lived overseas and sent him to us because they wanted him to have a good education at an American university. When he first moved in, I was overjoyed. I thought, Finally, someone to play with me! He was 18 years old and certainly had other things on his mind than hanging out with an 8 year old. But I was lonely and pestered him pretty much all the time and he began to warm up to me. We’d play board games or he would read to me. We’d watch movies and eat popcorn. I was so happy – he was the closest thing to a sibling that I’d ever had. I worshipped him like a big brother.
When I was 9 years old, my cousin molested me.
When I was 9 years old, I was a very affectionate kid. I loved hugs and snuggling. It helped me to feel less lonely. When my cousin would hug me or kiss me on the cheek, I felt like a princess. There was never a doubt in my mind that he was my ‘big brother’ and that he would always protect me. When the snuggles became more frequent, or the hugs began to last a little longer, I never gave it a second thought. When we’d watch a movie and he’d rest his hand on my thigh, I barely noticed. But eventually, I did begin to notice, and I became very confused. My love for my cousin and my childlike innocence were at odds with the disturbing feeling that I began to have that something was very wrong.
When I was 9 years old, I endured some very traumatic things. Things that no child should ever be exposed to. It is a bell that you can never un-ring. The images in my mind still haunt me to this very day in my mid-30s. If I see someone who looks like him, my breath catches in my throat. When I see someone sitting too close to one of my children, I panic. While I thank my lucky stars every day that I was not raped in the literal sense, I was absolutely violated to my very core – my mind especially. I felt suffocated when he would kiss me and not let me go. I felt the most intense desire to die when the hand on my thigh began to move to other places on my body. But children are not equipped to handle these kinds of emotions. I couldn’t reconcile why my most favorite person in the world was causing me to feel this way. I thought it was my fault.
When I was 9 years old, I finally couldn’t take it anymore. I finally realized that he was hurting me, that as much as I wanted him as my big brother, I knew deep down that something was wrong. I cried all the time. I experienced the most intense depression and anxiety. I began to cringe when anyone would touch me. I finally told my mother and as a child, I didn’t really have the right words to describe what was going on, other than my cousin was hurting me.
When I was 9 years old, my mother betrayed me and broke my heart. She laughed right in my face. She told me I was overreacting. She told me I must be confused. She told my cousin what I said, and he laughed as well. They chalked it up to a little girl’s crush.
When I was 9 years old, I was molested. And it wasn’t my fault. And I wasn’t crazy. And I will never be the same.
Resources and warning signs of childhood sexual abuse: http://www.nctsn.org/trauma-types/sexual-abuse