I have always been an enormously private person. When I half-heartedly attempted to start a blog, my innate need for privacy and anonymity made it just a (short-lived) journaling exercise for me. I also don’t have any social media accounts, which freaks a lot of people out, especially in this age of oversharing and bragging about whatever’s going on in life.
So with a lot of thought and apprehension, I wanted to share for the first time, my experience with childhood sexual abuse. It only feels right to talk about it because the young writers we work with are brave enough to talk about the darkness they feel and the struggles they live with every day. When I was young, two older male cousins molested me and abused me physically and mentally. This went on for years, and I only recently started talking about it in my private life, because until a few years ago, I didn’t want to ruin the family dynamic. I grew up having to see these abusers on an almost weekly basis, and for decades, pretended everything was ok.
Thankfully, I no longer see them. But the scars that remain are deep and have become a part of me. I have always believed that child abuse perpetrators should be punished on par with murderers. Because they kill children’s innocence, trust, hope, and ability to love. It is said that those who have experienced such trauma either run away from any memory of it or jump directly into the fire, determined to help others. I chose the latter. This doesn’t make me a good person. Instead, this makes me someone who is compelled to help others with the hope that doing so will heal my wounds.
With so much about sexual harassment in the news, my disappointment in people and PTSD caused by my past have emerged after a long dormant period. As much as I want to just give up on everything, the children who allow us the privilege of publishing their work give me hope. Their lives have been horrific yet they live on, spirits bruised but intact. And if they can recognize the good in the world, then I must try to as well.
This issue is dedicated to all of us, who have overcome unimaginable terrors yet still have work to do. May all of you find peace and love, in yourselves as well as in others.