Reading all the media reports of a family hiding abuse within its midst is heart wrenching for me. On my Facebook feed, I have friends and family on both sides of this media report. One side talks about forgiveness of past mistakes and the other side is supporting the victims. Everyone has their own story. Here is mine.
I was five years old when the sexual abuse began by my cousin. He was 10 years older than me. This was someone I loved, I trusted and he wouldn't hurt me, right?
This went on for 5 years. I didn't see him except for a couple of times a year. When I was 8, the parents of my cousin, my aunt and uncle, sat us both down on the living room couch and told us that what we were doing was wrong. He was 16 and I was 8. Let that statement sit for a while.
Yep.. the parents knew and blamed me as well, at the age of 8. I believed that I was to blame, that there was something wrong with me, that I should be ashamed of myself. I carried this within me and I was sick.
The abuse ended at age 10. I stopped it. I made sure I was never alone with him. I had realized that I didn't want to add to the immense weight I carried within. I had started moments of self harm.I have a few scars indicative of that time. I just wanted something physical to show my pain, to ease my emotional pain.
I didn't tell my Mom until I was 16. I was reluctant to do so, but after revealing the truth at a truth or dare party game, I felt I had to tell her, before anyone else did. Her first response was for me to not tell my Father, because My Dad would kill him. She arranged counseling for me and we didn't discuss it again.
I was angry for a long time. Angry at the adults in my life for not stopping it, anger at myself for causing it (took a bit of therapy to move on from that thought), anger at my cousin and anger at his family who KNEW.
Thank God I had an amazing man in my life who helped me through some of the toughest realizations with the abuse. My husband saved my life and helped me heal, emotionally and mentally. He helped me to see that forgiveness is about myself, not the abuser. He has shown me what a healthy relationship is.
My cousin died in 2004. He was killed in a car accident.
His name was Art, short for Arthur.