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Break the silence that surrounds sexual assault, sexual harassment, interpersonal violence, relationship abuse, stalking, hate crimes, and identity-based violence. Share your story here on our anonymous blog.

To speak about an experience with any form of interpersonal violence is difficult, but it is also empowering. Breaking the silence reduces shame and helps others to speak out about their own experiences.

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Because this blog features stories of interpersonal and sexual violence, we offer this *content warning* as a way of caution. We also ask that you do not reproduce any of the content below, as the authors of these personal stories are anonymous, and cannot give consent for their stories to appear anywhere other than this blog or at a Project Dinah-led SpeakOut event.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

“You can go back home if you want. But if you do, then I’ll tell my parents everything we’ve already done. I’ll tell them it was your idea.”
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How an eleven year-old child ever learned to manipulate that well, I will never know. My parents always told me K* (the neighbors’ daughter) was “bossy,” and that I shouldn’t listen to her if she told me to do something I didn’t want to do. They gave their advice like it was easy to follow. But then again, they probably never imagined she could corner me as expertly as she did; that she could violate my body and make me feel like it was my fault. They probably thought she was, at worst, making me give her my ice cream money or something. 

K always knew the exact words that would keep me trapped in her bedroom with its pink walls and Britney Spears posters, a torturous cell of shame with a candy-sweet exterior. I can only guess that she modeled her threat on a similar one that someone else once delivered to her when she was my age, or younger even. Abuse is, after all, a pain that is transmitted like disease; you have to have gotten it in some way or another in order to give it. 

At the time, I was eight years old, standing barefoot on the plush carpet of K’s bedroom, staring blankly at her butterfly comforter on top of which the “dating game” almost always took place. She made me be “the boy” every time, which even then I found ironic, because the game hinged on revealing, using, and abusing the body parts that distinguished me as a girl child. I think, perhaps, the first time we “played the game,” I was excited, filled with a child’s curiosity; I had never been allowed to see another person’s body freed from clothing before and she told me she would show me how to kiss. I knew from enough movies and television that it was best to learn how to kiss as quickly as possible, so I figured it was a fair offer to take up, and I agreed. I saw it as a learning experience that would put me ahead. I never imagined that her kisses and her touch, the oppressive weight of which I endured for three years, would be the first and last ones that my body would feel for the next ten years. I never thought I would have to be asking myself, at the age of nineteen, whether or not it was her fault or mine that I consistently push away all the men who interest me, even the ones I want so much to touch, and kiss, and love. Am I afraid that some of the pain she gave to me will rub off on them? Or am I afraid that they might still smell the scent of her on me, like fruit body spray, sweat, and shame? 

I have done a decade of hard work to recover the few memories I have from those years, and I am sure there are still many locked away in the deep recesses of my mind. Yet, every time I bring a new one up and attempt to dust it off, I feel stronger and stronger for having survived and inspired to be an ally for other survivors. Because I have felt the pain of sexual trauma and emotional abuse on my own body, mind, and spirit, I know the importance of stopping their infectious spread by giving people an alternative model for processing their own trauma. Survivors need to know that asking others to help you hold your pain is not the same as passing it on to them. Speaking out, letting others know what happened to me has become the key to my own freedom that I was not able to access at the age of eight. I hope my abuser has found a better way to deal with her pain by now, wherever she may be. 

(*Name has been changed to protect the anonymity of my testimonial) 

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