If you knew me, you would know that I am a women’s studies major, an artist, and even a poet. You might consider me bubbly, insightful and hopefully hardworking.
But if you really knew me, you would know my story. You would know why education is my number one priority and you would know why I am who I am. If you really knew me, you would know that I am a survivor.
Five years old: He lays me down, hold my wrists and gives me the worst pain I’ve ever felt.
Five and a half: The same thing, except my teddy bear was watching.
Six years old: Another time, but after his drunk friends had left the house.
Seven years old: Left me in a closet for two days straight after telling him it hurt.
Eight years old: I cried in the bathtub telling my mother I didn’t want to go to Daddy’s house anymore.
There was other abuse like leaving me in closets with the doors locked for days at a time, or shoving me into my bedroom after hitting me with his fraternity paddle. Not to mention the many times that he would start to cook for me, drunk, and leave it on the stove to burn, leaving me hungry until breakfast the next morning where he would fight through his hangover and attempt to feed me cereal. I was screaming and crying in the bathtub one night before my scheduled time to see him and at that moment, my mother knew something wasn't right.
She didn't know that he beat me, raped me, starved me, and even tried to abuse a friend of mine. She didn't understand what I had gone through; she didn't know all of the details then, just like most people don't now.
I couldn't handle the thought of keeping it a secret and trying not to cry when people use the "r-word" as a derogatory term. I tried to hold it all inside for so long and couldn't handle the pain that I was feeling. People didn't realize that although I was happy on the outside, I was screaming on the inside. It was a hole of darkness that I walked around for years, and fell in at night in my dreams.
This whole concept of “rape” didn’t hit me until I got older- and it made me sick. I developed bulimia in middle school because I thought that by throwing up I could get out all of the toxins that he put in my body- that maybe I would become pure again.
My junior year of high school I finally said something, and decided to press charges. What was worse was that the district attorney said there wasn’t enough evidence and that was the end of it. I could never find justice.
My senior year of high school, he chased me down the hallway of my school after telling the front office that he was my father and he was looking for me. Of course they let him in. But because they didn’t have the documents saying he couldn’t see me from when my mother took me away from him, he was let go and all I could do was get a restraining order.
If you really knew me you would know that I have survived a lot. I have had to survive the adjustment of moving away to a residential high school alone, with the fear that my father would follow me- and did follow me. I have had to survive the words that he said when he would leave me nasty messages on my voice mail and even survive the news that after finally pressing charges, there was nothing that could have been done for lack of evidence.
What he did matters because it has shaped me into the person that I am, but the past is the past, and there is nothing I can do to change it. I had to move forward, and I am.
When people ask me how I go through my day without crying or getting upset, I say that it is because no matter what, I am a survivor, not a victim.