Three years ago, my life changed.
Three years ago, I was sexually abused.
Rewind to 2001. My grandfather passed away very suddenly right after we moved to be close to him. It was a new town, new people, new school, new church. I was 6 years old. There was an older man who attended the church with his wife, children, and grandchildren. From the moment my grandfather died he took me under his wing. He encouraged me, walked with me, and prayed with me. He became the closest thing I had to a grandfather. Eventually, he abused me.
Fast forward to 2010. I was fourteen years young and thought I had the world figured out. I was on top of the world and nothing could touch me.
I was at an overnight youth event at this older man’s farm. During this youth event, I was molested by the man I thought I could trust.
I told my closest friend who told my youth pastors who told my parents who told the police who told the media who told the world. I thought I could get on with my life, but I was very wrong.
There were news articles, there were interviews by the police, there were statements and court and everything in-between. He was convicted and I was told to move on.
Through all of this, I want you to know that telling a victim to move on does more harm than good.
I want you to know that the snickering and remarks you make will leave scars.
I want you to know that telling the victim they are making it up will not change the facts.
I want you to know that everyday I woke up, I wish I hadn’t.
I want you to know that you, the church, made my life a living hell.
To all the victims: I want you to know there is hope.
I want to know it does get better.
I want you to know you are not alone and that for every person who hurts you, there are 10 people out there who love you.
I want you to know that you can stop the cycle.
Before I was abused, approximately 50 other women and girls had been abused by same man. If one of them had come forward, it all would have stopped. He would have never been able to touch me.
And to those who abuse: I want you to know that you need help, you need someone to help you stop.
I want you to know that this can stop, you just need the right kind of help.
I want you to know that there are people who love you and want to see you get better.
And to the man who abused me: I want you to know that I forgive you.