'I was raped at the age of 5'
11 September 2013, 15:38
A reader shares her traumatic experience of being sexually abused as a child.
I was five years old when my cousin had sex with me and was 12 when I remembered this traumatic event. I blocked it out for so long that I first thought it was a dream. At first I did not tell my parents – I was so ashamed and thought that I did something terribly wrong to deserve it. I started acting out badly. My poor mother could not understand what was going on until one day I told her. She was so shocked and did not know how to handle it. We lived in a small town with no psychologist available – and even if there was one – they would not have been able to afford it. But I never blamed them. I know that through it all my mother was just as much a victim – because what is the chance of that happening in a small town like that. I think I was thirteen when someone killed my cousin – which maybe was a blessing in disguise because I don’t think I would be able to face him. But it made it difficult because I struggled with forgiveness – difficult when you cannot look the person in the face. Writing a letter to a dead person is not as easy as it sounds.
For years I struggled with my self-esteem and could not stand a man near me. I felt so sorry for myself and felt I deserved the punishment. I felt like the ugliest girl on earth. For years I could not look into a mirror. I couldn’t stand myself. And then something happened that saved me. I went on a church camp with some grade 7 kids (I was a volunteer at church) and the theme was masks and why we wear them. There was this beautiful woman that did a drama on child abuse and alcohol abuse – something broke inside me. I started crying and couldn’t stop. I felt so embarrassed but shared my story anyway. It was people I knew and was so afraid that they would judge me – they didn’t. They held me and cried with me. Some freedom came that day.
After that I just decided that I did not want to be the victim anymore. I started working with a psychologist and she gave me some amazing advice about how to go on with my life. According to her my nature is of a fighter and I created my own coping mechanism – exercise. That gave me back some dignity. I started feeling better about myself. I believe that God has a plan with everything. Even the bad stuff that happens to us.
I believe one day I will be able to help a kid whose life was shattered by this trauma. I don’t wish it on any one. But if you do go through it don’t take as long as me (25 years) before you seek help.
I believe that one day I will have a husband that loves me even though this happened to me. I will never lose Hope.