I’m a statistic… I’m a victim of sexual child abuse. This statement somehow sounds so cold. My abuser was a neighbor… no one suspected him. I don’t know how many children he abused. Back in the early fifties, there was really no accurate count of the number of pedophiles in our country. It was really taboo to speak of such things.
At least now, sexual abuse is a much more acceptable subject and is even an encouraged discussion among parents to children. But we have so much more work to do, if we wish to eradicate all child abuse and sex trafficking in our country. I believe that there is hope – but we need to get parents, educators and legislators all on board to improve the statistics. That’s right… it happens, most often right under our noses. And Utah (where I currently live) ranks a D when it comes to stopping sex trafficking of minors. No young, innocent girl wakes up one morning and says, “Gee, I think I’ll be a prostitute when I grow up.”
Most young girls, who are, are being forced into this profession ( I don’t like using that word) Rather than prostitute, let’s use the term “sex slave” – since many of these young girls are the product of kidnapping and methodical grooming. They are often treated worse than animals.
People, this just has to stop! Recently an observant Delta flight attendant noticed a peculiar and uncomfortable situation on her plane. Before landing, she contacted the authorities and a man who had been on her plane was arrested for kidnapping the three young people traveling with him… IT CAN BE STOPPED!
I have struggled with image my entire life… never really feeling pretty. It’s been a constant inner battle. The evening that I was asked to share my abuse story publicly – the first time in my 64 years… I found myself asking HB for affirmation to try to dispell my negatives: “Honey, does my hair look okay? And what about my eyes… do thy look really bad… all puffy and gross?” It was in those moments that I stopped and connected the dots. This goes back to years of my feelings of worthlessness and guilt. I felt like I was being abused all over again by this neighbor.
I copied a photo to show this high school group… it was taken shortly after the abuse began. “It’s our secret… just between us. Remember, don’t tell anyone!” Les would say. So for 38 years I was silent. I did begin to avoid him whenever he came to our home after I reached age nine or 10. But I can still smell the cigarettes on his hands and see his yellow crooked teeth in my mind….
It’s so different looking at my young me and realizing how innocent I truly was.
I look back at photos of me when I graduated from Denver University. I wasn’t ugly – and yet I felt ugly, dirty and guilty.
It’s easy to hide behind a mask when you’ve been sexually wounded- physically, emotionally and psychologically. I spent much of my adult life doing just that. It wasn’t until I met HB, my best friend… the person I finally felt completely safe with, whom I could finally share my abuse story with. He held me close and let me sob. I’m not sure how long. But I do know he was there for me. It’s very difficult to allow people into this ugly world. But once I did, I was able to begin my healing and forgiving process. Therapy definitely helped.
As I said earlier, I finally, after all these years, shared my story publicly for the first time. It was another cathartic moment. The tears flowed freely, but once I was finished, I felt some more of my burden lifted.
You may ask, how can I help? If you’re a Utah resident here is a link: Raise The Grade
We each have a voice. I would suggest we use it – for it can be a powerful tool against this evil! As always, I welcome any comments.