I am discussing something, that I never thought I would. Something that happened a long time ago, but has affected my entire life. This isn't for sympathy, or a perverse need for attention. I'm speaking out for the many who may have their own story, swept under the rug, ignored, or invalidated.
I was 5 years old. My memory is shaky of that time spent with another family. I remember it in bursts. If I try to remember what that time was like, I will get flashes, and then blank spots.
The kids were a little older than me and my brother. The daughter was 7 years old (I'll call her "T" from here on out). I looked up to her. She was fun and wild. I don't remember a lot about the mother. I remember her being around, but not as much as the father. He was very different from my dad. He was very affectionate. He liked to hug a lot. Especially T.
I remember going to the grocery store with their family and their mom went inside while we stayed in the car. He got out and got us gum from the gum machine outside the store. We were trying to blow bubbles, and they were playing a game I had never played before. We were suppose to pass the gum back and forth to each other, with our mouths. I watched them, T, her dad and her brother, play this game with a sort of uncomfortable fascination. Then, her father asked me if I wanted to play too. I felt weird, and embarrassed and said no. T kept wanting me to play, even grabbing my face and pressing her lips against mine to try and get me to play and I pulled away. Her father laughed and said, that I was missing out. Then he and T put their mouths together and I now know what was happening was french kissing, until he pulled away with her gum and showed us by sticking his tongue out at us with the gum perched on the end.
I remember one of the nights she spent the night. We played a game where, I would pose and she would take my picture. Like we were models. Then, she would tell me to pull up my night dress, so she could take pictures of my underwear. She taught me how to pose "sexy". Which at age 5, is kind of a mystery. It involved putting my hand on my hip, sticking my hip out, and opening my mouth, "So I can see your tongue." she would say. She would then pose for me pretending to take her picture. Some of the poses she made, were embarrassing, but I played along. Then, it was time for bed, and things would get very confusing.
She would tell me that her father told her to take her underwear off and put it under her pillow and "wait for him". So, she would do that, and tell me to do the same. Then she would proceed to do things to me. Stuff her father did to her. I remember her being surprised that my dad didn't do that to me too. This sort of ritual was repeated at a slumber party where we stayed with a mutual friend and two other girls. Only, some of the things done, I remember now, were more disturbing.
My parents didn't know. How could they? It was a different time then, and it wasn't done in the open. She nor her father were careless. I know, if my parents had known, they would have swiftly protected me and done everything to save T and any future victims from her father. But at 5 years old, I didn't know how to say what happened. I didn't know I needed to tell. T tried at one point, but her mother didn't react well and she was forever silenced.
How did all this affect my life? Well, I struggled with nightmares, that I sometimes still have today. Not very often, but when I am struggling spiritually, they come. I look back and realize how provocative I was at a young age. I acted out once on another child when I was 7 years old. Something I'm ashamed of still. As I got older, I put myself in dangerous situations with older men. I would do things for their attention that I am ashamed of. I don't think some of the things I did, would have happened, if I hadn't been sexualized at a young age. Any time the news reports, yet another repeat offending pedophile, adding another victim to the list of children they raped/molested, I feel sick. I want to kill anyone who has violated a child. Not all victims become perpetrators, but acting out is very common. So I struggle with being suspicious of the intent of children. I am overly protective sometimes of my kids, I'm sure. But if anyone were to harm my kids like that, I can promise you that they would pay dearly and I am willing to do time for getting them justice.
It doesn't matter how old the perpetrator is. It doesn't matter what gender they were. We have no right to quantify the extent of trauma based on some predetermined guidelines. When you are sexually exploited, it IS abuse! Do NOT ever discount, rationalize or diminish a child's claim of abuse. This holds true, for the countless adults who are living with memories of abuse. The extent of the abuse is not what makes it valid. If it happened at all, IT MATTERS.
Now, I have to recognize, that while I am not "better", a lot of the bad feelings have lightened and that is because of my relationship with Jesus Christ. It's a process. When the nightmares come, or I feel panicky over a memory or trigger, I pray for His protection. For healing and grace. I am a work in progress and I have bad days. However, when I sing hymns and talk to Him, I feel at peace again and for a time, I find freedom. If you struggle with memories of abuse, you are not alone and there is freedom from the pain and heartache. Call on Jesus. Ask Him to come into your heart and take away the darkness. You will begin a healing that no doctor, fling, pill or drink can cure.
For More Information:
What Is Child On Child Sexual Abuse?
"... more than one-third of the sexual abuse of America's children is committed by other minors."
-- 2012 crime statistics