“Nobody wants to hear about sexually abused kids around Christmas. Nobody wants to hear about them ever.”
I could feel her words multiply as they passed her lips. They wrapped around my head and flitted before my eyes, squeezing tightly around my throat and sinking deep into the pit of my stomach.
Not a single soul.
You do not matter.
At 22 years old, I am a working public relations professional by day and a working public relations professional by night. I spend three Saturdays a month waiting on wedding guests and “the privileged” at a country club. My idea of fun is sweat pants, knitting and Chopped marathons. I dread leaving my bed each morning and wish the circumference of my thighs was smaller. I am the only kind sarcastic asshole I know. The beauty of these roles and self-identifiers lies in their ability to be stripped of me; I am simply a vessel executing tasks and dressing myself in characteristics.
I am a sexually abused child every day.
She doesn’t know. They don’t know. And no one knows that fit of coughing just now was me choking down the bile her words punched past my heart and up my throat.
Why is it that every child deserves a chance but never the sexually abused ones? Why are we an opinionated, explicitly sexual culture that shuts off at sex crimes? Why can a trilogy showcasing gags, handcuffs and whips top the bestseller list while a child with stolen innocence remains unspeakable? Why does Little Susie’s status as a survivor of child molestation make her undeserving of Christmas gifts like the other children? Why?
1 in 5 girls.
1 in 20 boys.
We need to talk about the significance of sexual crimes in the United States and across the world. I cannot hear one more rape or molestation joke. I will not tolerate choosing one misfortune over another.
Cancer sucks. We all know it. But cancer also comes with a timeline, odds, perspective, openness. Your mind will battle, your body will fight and, regardless if it succumbs to the disease or not, the people you need most stood by your side to see you through. Why? Not because they loved you. Not because they felt obligated. Because they knew. They knew you had cancer. As bad as it sucked, you struggled without fear of rejection for your cancer.
If cancer is a war, surviving sexual assault is mother-effing apocalypse.
Your body? It’s filthy.
Your mind? A short, scarring screenplay on loop.
You don’t feel after you’ve been sexually assaulted. You don’t touch, you don’t sing, you don’t laugh, you don’t cry. You simply exist. The people you love pull away because your different than before. They don’t know, though. How do you look your mother in the eye and tell her the man who raised her molested you? You don’t. And so you suffer quietly, closed off from love and support and happiness and feelings.
Healing isn’t impossible. It takes extensive therapy, reliving the experience… telling someone. And even then, it never leaves you. Cancer leaves you or takes you. Sexual assault becomes you; you must never become it.
I could be in jail. I could have children of my own from teen pregnancy. I could be self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. I could be perpetrating someone else. But here I am, sitting across this table, letting your words assault the little girl living inside me–the one who never got to grow up.
I don’t know if I like group activities anymore.