As most of you know I’m a pretty open book. Ask me a question and I’ll give you an honest answer, whether you want it or not! I’m more than happy to share that I have implants due to a partial mastectomy 4 years ago. They’re pretty fantastic! I show them to more people than I should admit to! If you’re good to me I’ll be your loyal friend for life. I love my friends like family. But if you’re bad to me, watch out! Oh and want to hear a humiliating story about a child walking in on you during sex? Keep scrolling down!
But here are a few things you might not know about me. I have severe anxiety. How severe? Insomnia induced constant worrying going to be on medication for the rest of my life anxiety. I also love my cats more than most people. I think they are the perfect combination of cute, sweet, and complete jerks. Which makes me feel less guilty when I just want to snuggle them against their will! And then there is my extensive list of quirks and fears, both rational and irrational. To name a few: death, illness, poverty, unhappiness, rejection, possibly bugging people into not liking me anymore, certain colored cups, invisible toilet fumes landing on my toothbrush, people putting their hands in the cereal box, bugs, snakes, spiders, enclosed spaces, and of course Bert and Ernie. Yes, Bert and Ernie! As a child I would have frequent nightmares that they were floating in my closet, staring at me with those creepy oversized eyeballs on those odd shaped heads! And also….I’m a sexual abuse survivor.
I was sexually abused by a family friend when I was 7, just a few months after my father died. He had been on his LDS mission and came for a visit when he returned home. During his visit he abused me multiple times. I never said anything during his visit, and out of fear did little to stop him from what he was doing, but as soon as he left I told my mother. She immediately reported it and he was soon arrested. I had to testify against him in court, but because everyone was worried about the toll it would take on me we recorded all of my testimony outside of the courtroom. Because it was his first offence his only punishment was he was instructed to pay for my counseling and was put on the sex offender list. But when I was 13 the decision was made to take him off that list and his record was cleared. When asked later he said he did it because he felt far away from God since completing his mission.
I don’t know if what he did affects him at all anymore, but it affected every aspect of my life. When this happened I was still reeling from watching my father, my best friend, suddenly die. I craved the attention of adult men and he took advantage of that. I spent the rest of my childhood and teenage years questioning the intentions of well meaning family and friends. I spent years in and out of therapy learning to not blame myself for the incident. It’s appalling to me now that as a 7 year old I believed I had somehow encouraged him to do it and the fault rested completely on me. I struggled with my faith for years wondering how God would let this happen, especially since he blamed leaving his own LDS mission for it happening. It is just in the last few years that I have been able to truly reconnect with my faith, finally being able to believe what my uncle has always told me: “They don’t call it the church of the people for a reason!” People make their own choices, I know this now.
Now as a parent I am constantly asking my children if people are respecting them and if they are respecting other people. They’ve been listening to mom speeches their whole lives about how our bodies are private and if anyone tries to disrespect them they should scream, run, tell, etc. I have lectured them on the fact that as boys they must always respect girls and their bodies. It may be one of the reasons I never had a girl. My anxiety for her safety would have driven me mad! I have sat in numerous times to the “Good touch, Bad touch” presentations at school as a parent rep so that I can be able to see what is being taught in the schools. My greatest hope for these boys is that they grow up to be good people and can respect everyone.
So why tell my story now? After years and years of not talking about it? Because I recently discovered that by opening up this part of my life to everyone I can possibly help and inspire other people who have been abused. I can help them not feel so alone. According to the American SPCC , 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are abused before they turn 18. But when it happens to you sometimes its hard to remember that other people have been there. I’ve met several people who can truly understand where I am coming from. But one person in particular has inspired me to tell this story because they have shared theirs very publicly. Kim Fisher is a friend of mine who was sexually abused too. She is using her experience in her career as a journalist to make a difference in other victims lives. She is courageously standing as a voice for all of us. I have spoken with her about what happened to me and was surprised how immediately comfortable it was for me to talk to her because she understands where I’m coming from. I want to be like her an inspire others like she has inspired me. It is because of her that I am finally sharing this story. So thanks Kim!