The Mending Mads Silent Auction is almost over. We reached our goal the very first day! I’m humbled by the response of the authors and vendors who participated. Those who bid on items, thank you so much. Through RAINN, your money will go to help those in need of comfort and healing.
I touched on a few of the reasons that Mending Mads and raising money for RAINN are important to me. With statistics of sexual assault as they are it seems impossible not to know someone whose life has been touched by it. For me the gravity of stopping sexual violence goes beyond friends, family, and basic compassion for my fellow human being.
I am a survivor of sexual assault.
Consciously, I have very little memory of this time in my life and no solid memory of the actual assaults. Too young to hang on to no more than small impressions left by the train wreck my trauma left behind. My lack of memory is a blessing and a curse. There really is not good way to be left with the aftershocks of being violated. Not quite three years old, I was a very boisterous and precocious child. My father was overseas with the Navy so it was just Mom and I. She attended night school working towards her bachelors in psychology. While she was at school I was left in the care of a woman and her husband, family friends of my parents. For the sake of this post I will be referring to my attacker as The Man.
****TRIGGER WARNING! My story includes details that may be a trigger to some readers. Please continue with caution.*****
The Man and my father met on the base where they were both stationed. His wife was very sweet and he was supposedly a fun guy to be around. Originally it was The Man’s wife who was my babysitter but for reasons I cannot remember The Man ended up taking over the job. Fast forward I don’t know how long to the night I came out of my bedroom long after I should have been asleep. I informed my mother that it hurt. She asked me, “What hurts?”
I pointed down the front of my diaper and said, “Where The Man put his fingers.” Immediately after I became hysterical because I wasn’t supposed to tell. “The Man said he’d make you go away and I’d never see you again!” I wailed. The Man had ensured my silence by threatening my mother’s presence in my life. I always was a mama’s girl but as my father was currently gone she was all I had. The Man told a child he’s leave her completely alone in the world if she told on him. This small act on his part impacted me so greatly for the rest of my life it was nearly crippling. I suffered from separation anxiety until I was a teenager. Sleepovers with friends, trips, just going to school terrified me; my family might be gone when I get back.
My mother blamed herself and to this day thinks she should have seen some sign The Man would hurt me. She remembers the weird irritation on my genitals that she chalked up to a recurrent diaper rash. She remembers washing my blanket and wondering what I’d spilled on it, in retrospect she knows it was The Man’s semen. Going to school for psychology, specifically to help abused children, while her own is being assaulted under her roof. To say Mom needed therapy as much as I did is an understatement. I’ve never blamed her and I hope one day she’ll stop blaming herself as well.
The truth is Mom is my hero. The Man’s commanding officer tried to sweep it all under the rug. I was just a kid, probably lying. Even though mom had a report from the pediatric ER physician stating it was obvious to him I had been sexually abused, the CO refused to do anything. Mom wouldn’t be told to go away. She threatened to go to the newspapers. With her permission they would print my name, The Man’s name, the name of the Navy base and every person she’d come into contact with since I told her my terrible secret. That’s how mom met the base commander. He apologized and shipped the CO to one of the worse bases you can end up at. The Man was arrested and tried in military court. He spent two years in prison. The shackles of his abuse will stay with me until I die, two years seems too easy. PTSD, anxiety, depression, mistrust, fear, nightmares; the list goes one!
You don’t get to get over sexual assault. It lives with you forever. Without the love and support I’ve received I wouldn’t be a functioning adult. I was told in junior high not to share my story because it makes people uncomfortable and then they won’t want to be around me.
It makes you uncomfortable? Well, it made me uncomfortable too. You won’t want to be my friend? Too bad for you. I will not be silenced and made to feel ashamed. I will speak out. I will fight for myself and others until the day comes when the offenders are too uncomfortable to commit sexual assault. I will make a difference. The Mending Mads Silent Auction is one way I am raising awareness, educating the public, and helping to fund an organization dedicated to getting other survivors the help they deserve.