I’m doing this for my daughter.

Date uploaded: November 6, 2019

I am a female, 30 years old, and married. Five months ago, I gave birth to my first child.

Where I am in my life spiritually right now is very much affected by my postpartum status. My entire life was made up of priding myself for not being "weak." For not being the typical girl who is overly emotional, sensitive, and overreacting to everything. Or so I thought.

In the past couple of years, there has been a lot of talk about coming forward and being open about past abuse and abusers. I've always considered my story to be not as important or as traumatic as some of the things my friends and family have been through. Having my daughter changed all of that. No matter how small or big the situation seemingly is, I would NEVER want her to feel like she had to keep quiet. It would kill me. I'm doing this for her.

I've learned that I have actually blacked out a lot of what happened. I was eight years old, and he was 13. It was done by a family member, an older cousin. I didn't understand what had happened until much later, especially the inappropriateness of it all. My other cousins came out with the truth first. And even then, I kept surprising myself with what happened and convinced myself that it wasn't that serious--why would I upset my parents for "nothing"? It started off with casual touching that might've been misconstrued as cousins just being close. But something about it always made me feel uncomfortable—dirty. One day we were playing a game with my other cousins. Bad guys vs good guys. We were on opposing teams. I was a good guy—he was bad. When he "caught" me he threw me onto the bed and laid on top of me saying things like "I caught you, you won't get away from me." At that moment I knew we weren't playing anymore, and I was terrified. His hands were on my waist, and they stayed there for a long time with him on top of me. I didn't say a word; I just shut my eyes. He stayed like that on top of me until another cousin came barging in through the door, at which time he jumped off of me.

After what happened that day, I kept my distance. I remember being scared, even terrified, in that moment. After that, I convinced myself that I was overreacting. Even at eight years old, I was trying to discredit how I felt. I didn't tell anyone for years. Ten years to be exact. Circumstances (that aren't mine to say) led me to finally be truthful with myself, my parents, and everyone else.

At first it was hard for anyone to believe. Why'd I wait so long? I must've remembered wrong. It was just kids playing. It was just how boys roughhouse, and I was being overly sensitive because I was a girl. It definitely led to a lot of family drama, and I was made to feel shame and guilt.

I have not experienced any additional offenses.

I became a passive person who rarely stood up for myself. I constantly doubted myself, was desperate for acceptance, and never wanted to rock the boat or be involved in confrontation. When I found out that I was pregnant, and especially that I was having a daughter, so much of my outlook changed. I wanted to be strong for her. I wanted her to learn to be strong, speak her mind, protect herself, and never be put in a position like that. But most of all, I wanted her to learn that by watching her mother.

Through the years, my willingness to trust the Lord with my burden and spending time in His Word are what truly began my transformation. I was never given an apology or closure, and to this day, I'm sure there are people who believe that what happened, didn't. However, I've come to the place in my life where I can confidently say I don't hold that grudge against him. I can only hope that he repented in some way, somehow. I'm not perfect by any means, but the Lord has opened my eyes to who I truly am as His child in the last couple of years, and for that, I am grateful.

*Please note, all photography here is stock and is not meant to portray the likeness of any victim. All efforts have been made to protect the privacy of those who bravely submit their stories.

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