"I am a sister, a daughter, a friend, a survivor."

My story begins when I was five years old. I was sexually abused by my half-brother until I was about nine years old, when he enlisted and moved out of the country. I was always taught, “if a stranger ever touches you, you tell mom and dad right away,” but what if that stranger was family? I spent many years pondering what had happened to me, confused because it couldn’t be that bad if it was your brother, right? Am I supposed to tell? Will mom be mad at me? Was it abuse?  

I let this secret sit inside of me while my half-brother was home and would reward me with coloring books and a box of crayons (with a sharpener on the back!), but also two years after he left for the army. Eventually, I became terrified that I would never find the courage inside of me to tell someone what happened.

One night in July, the summer before sixth grade, I was in the shower. It was a normal day and a normal night. I hadn’t seen my half-brother in about a year, yet for some reason that night I was dwelling on what had happened to me, and I was in denial that it was abuse. I turned the shower off without washing all the shampoo out of my hair, threw clothes on and went straight to my twin brother. He was climbing into bed as I blurted out, “C sexually abused me.” Keep in mind that we were innocent 10-year-olds, so he calmly yet nervously directed me to our mom, whom I repeated those four words to. The first words she said were, “Oh, honey,” and opened her arms, and immediately a weight was lifted from my shoulders. Mind you, it wasn’t necessarily the easiest night of my life although my mom and I had a “sleepover” in her room, I was up until about 4am crying and going into detail with my mom about what had happened. Although it was hard to accept what happened, it was a step on the road to recovery.
I began to see therapists on a weekly basis; it’s only plural because I went through a couple after a trial and error type of process (it’s weird, you wouldn’t think finding a therapist is like finding the right pair of shoes, but it is). Even so, therapy wasn’t really for me. I talked to my mom a lot, I taught myself how to play guitar, and I began to journal almost every day. I was growing and recovering without even realizing it. In finding healthy outlets for stress and anxiety, I learned to forgive and move forward. I had great friends and an amazing support system that was (and still is!) my family. I consider myself extremely lucky, despite the circumstances. I’ve learned that I am more than the pain and shame I held inside for so long. I am a sister, a daughter, a friend, a survivor.