#metoo
#metoo

I was sexually abused as a teenager

by Lela Harris about a month ago in activism

My stepfather abused me

I was sexually abused as a teenager

My mom was always in a relationship. She used to say she was in love with the idea of being in love, but never found the perfect man. Lets face in, the perfect man does not exist. She left my father not long after I was born, and married my first Stepfather Kyle. He was the best and treated me like I was his own child. He didn't have kids of his own and wanted to be a father to me, my father didn't come around much. Kyle taught me how to ride a bicycle, and always told me, no matter how many times I fall down, always get back up. I took that to heart and have lived by it most of my life, my life has not been easy.

Eventually my mom and Kyle divorced and we moved away, it was a constant cycle. She dated, we moved in and then eventually moved out. Some of her boyfriends I liked, others not so much. One day she told me she was pregnant with the little brother I had always wanted and that we were going to move to California, we lived in Texas at the time, because she needed help from her sister who lived there. So at the age of eleven, right in the middle of puberty I moved half way across the country, and started middle school, in a new state, in a new school, where I knew no one.

About a year after we moved to California we finally got our own place and moved out of my aunts. Shortly after that my mom met Wayne on a dating site. That is when the wolf entered the den and changed everything.

He seemed really nice at first. He had a daughter my age, and was good with my little brother, who was a toddler at the time. I liked him, he would take me to school, buy me things and it was nice to have a father figure around. I hardly saw my dad and I missed having that. Then one day, almost in the blink of an eye, everything changed.

I was in the kitchen putting plastic wrap on the top of the refrigerator, he walked up next to me and grabbed my right breast. I froze. I didn't know what to do and I was completely shocked at what had just happened. I looked at him in utter disbelief and he said "calm down it was an accident". For some reason I did not believe him. A few days later I told my mom what had happened. She looked at me for a moment, took a breath and said "if it happens again do you want to press charges?" I was completely stunned by here response, I was fifteen and confused. I responded with "mom he's your husband." She replied with "I do not care". She knew it was wrong and was doing her best to show her support and let me know she was in my corner, but then she got sick.

It was Easter Sunday in 2001, I had spent the night at a friends house and Wayne had come to pick me up. I got in the car and he began driving us home. He was quiet for a minute which made me happy, I hated being alone with him and car rides were the worst. Then he spoke "your mom is in the hospital, she was throwing up blood most of the night. We do not know what is wrong." I just sat there in disbelief, my mom was in the hospital and we had no idea why. We sat in silence the rest of the way home, I wanted to see my brother as he was only around three at the time and see how he was doing.

My brother was across the street at my step-grandmas house. We went over there and Wayne called my mom and let me speak with her. I broke down the second I heard her voice. I was scared and didn't know what was going on. She started crying and told me it would be ok and to let everything out. Eventually we found out that she needed a liver transplant as soon as possible or she was going to die. She had hepatitis C and a Cirrhosis of the liver.

The next few months as she began to deteriorate the touching only got worse and more frequent. My mother was in and out of the hospital, and there were times when the ammonia levels in her brain would get so high, she would go into a state of confusion and not know who or where she was.

One day I was in my bathroom, I was getting ready to take a shower. I was getting undressed and just happened to glance out the window, and I screamed. Wayne was standing directly outside the window trying to look inside. I ran and got my mom, at the time she was coherent and home. She confronted him and asked him why he was outside my bathroom window, and he told us to calm down because he couldn't really see inside because the windows were textured for that reason.

Another time we were picking up his friend, and I had to climb into the back seat. We had one of those two door cars with a very small back seat that had to be climbed into from the front. I was getting into the back and he out his hand out. He had it out in such a way that I would sit on it has I sat down. I half way yelled "what are you doing?!" His response " I was trying to help you"

I had to sleep with my bedroom door locked. I was always afraid he would come in during the night. Sometimes he would get very upset that I had my door locked, and I would hear about when I would see him the next day. One night while I was sleeping he came into my room. I heard the door open and I immediately woke up and screamed in my head "he's here! I forgot to lock the door!" He was on top of me before I knew what happened, he face, directly in between my breasts. I was sixteen and terrified. Later he said that he was coming to tell me good bye, because he was on his way to work, tripped and fell, and that is why he was on top of me.

I also had to have the laundry done and dinner on the table by the time he got home from work everyday. I would get home from school, pick up my brother who was four at the time, bathe him if he needed it, clean his room, do the laundry, fix dinner, have the house clean and if I had time, work on my homework. I became a mother and a wife when I was a teenager and I hated it. I love my brother, but I did not want to be a parent yet. He was a difficult child to raise, he was always angry. I was not the only one being abused, he was too. I do not know how but I know he struggles with it to this day. Once our mother got better, she divorced Wayne.

My mother eventually died from her illness. She had the transplant and everything was looking good for a few years. The disease was in remission and she was finally starting to be able to live her life again. A few years later her illness came back, and she did now want to go through everything again, and frankly I didn't blame her. It was a lot and she was always having to take medication. She died April 1, 2007.

My mother got over protective of me. She didn't want me to wear tank tops because she feared I would get raped. She didn't want me to watch any scary movies, or movies she deemed to scary. She tried so hard to protect me from the world, she failed to do so from the monster inside the house. I do not blame her, she was very ill and could not take care of herself let alone two kids. I was angry for a long time. Mostly at myself for being unable to protect my brother form Wayne. It took me years to understand that none of it was my fault. He was a monster who preyed on the young and scared.

What I went through has made me stronger. Yes I am still dealing with the side effects of what he did to me. I was in therapy for years and was diagnosed with PTSD. When an older man yells at me, or near me, I get triggered and cower into a corner. I try to fight it and work through it, but sometimes it is hard. We can over come much, it just takes work. Just becuase something bad happened to you does not make you worthless, or "damaged goods" it makes you a warrior who has gone through hell and survived. Keep on living survivor.

activism
Lela Harris
Lela Harris
Read next: The State
Lela Harris

I have been through a lot in life. More than most but not as much as some. I took up running as a way to combat my ever present depression. I have combined my two loves in life. Traveling and running, every state

See all posts by Lela Harris