My journey through abuse has been long, exhausting and at most times it felt never ending. I’ve spent most of my life feeling like I’m drowning and I’m still learning how to navigate through my life as an adult, even though I sometimes still feel like a vulnerable 10-year-old girl.
Let’s pick up a few shifts, as a side hustle while in school, I thought to myself. After all, working as a bartender or server in a high end restaurant in a big city can yield some nice cash. If you’re a student or at the beginning of a career with many expenses and zero third party support, making some extra bucks to alleviate the struggle is appealing. However, it comes at a price.
I… WE are NOT black sheep. WE are radiant glow-in-the-dark sheep. Not white, not red, blue, yellow, or any other ordinary primary colour. WE are the sheep that lead the way, the beacons of light that fought, survived and shattered cycles.
You used to be a good friend to me. My movie pal, my gym partner. When I got with someone that I had been close with for a bit, you weren’t happy. You’d start leaving the room if I got calls, you’d start being snappy with me and just downright mean. You never used to be like that with me ever. You were always careful with me because I’m often sick and frail. I never even neglected our friendship despite the relationship. It got bad, you got worse. You started shouting at me all the time, cornering me. I was scared, so scared of you. I never felt safe anymore and I didn’t know how to tell anyone. I ended up crying a lot. You got so mad the last night you stayed and you shoved me into the counter and raised your hand to me. I was terrified and crying. It was 2 AM and I begged you to calm down or the neighbors would complain. I was shaken. I finally managed to go to bed. You had a date the next day and I was happy for that. I always told you put yourself out there. I woke up to you touching me, and I tried to push you off and told you no please stop. You didn’t. You kept going and telling me how pretty my body was and it would be such a waste not to. I cried. I didn’t have the strength to shove you off and you kept me pinned. When you were done you fixed yourself up and left for your date. I had tears coming down my cheeks and laid there in silence. I curled up with a stuffed animal feeling so broken. I didn’t talk to anyone much at all. My partner didn’t even find out until later in the evening because of one of my roommates who I had cried to silently about it before passing back out. My partner was angry very angry. Authorities were called and you fled the state.
I’ve struggled with my body image for years. Even when I was tiny I thought I was fat, but this is not a story about body image in the usual sense. It took a lot of years of breaking emotionally and mentally for me to finally figure out that my self image isn’t mine. I was molested when I was 3 years old, and from that point on, I never felt comfortable with my body. I remember I would never undress in front of anyone, and when my mom had to bathe me I felt filthy, unpleasant and unusual. I was a child with body image issues. I grew up this way and no one understood; instead, family members made fun of me for it... I finally told my mom about what had happened and I think I was 5 years old by then. She tried to hide her pain but I could see it in her eyes as she told her sister. There was a family meeting and true to patriarchy and the burden of family, she was told not to lay charges against my cousin who had done this to me. I was taken to a doctor to get checked up and I suppose I was alright physically, but mentally and emotionally, I’ve carried the shame and disgust of my own self from the moment it happened...
I started modeling when I was 18, just a few months after I had given birth to my first child. I was married then, and my husband at the time was in the Army. I wanted to build a life more than just being a stay at home mom. That title didn't seem fulfilling enough for me.
It happened to me about 4 years ago. I just got out of my first relationship and I went back on a popular dating site (I won't name it because it may not want to be associated with this). About a week later I started to talk to a guy who lived about 30 or 45 minutes away. This new guy and I met a few days later. It went well but at the end of the night he touched me and I didn't stop him. I think that's where the ball started to roll in his head about what he would do next to me. So we saw each other the next day at a park near my house. At dark we sat in my car talking. One of the last things he did was touch me down there; I wanted it so that wasn't the assault. This is going to sound weird, but I think when I consented he thought my consent overrode the times I would say no. At this point it all seemed normal. I felt like I found a good guy.