LAY ME BARE

 I have never given myself a reason to trust males. Why? Because I’ve been sexually assaulted and raped by two different men on two separate occasions. When I was 8 years old, I was sexually assaulted. At the time, I had no understanding of what was exactly happening to me and I couldn’t gather the courage to tell anyone. I just knew it wasn’t right. 

The first time it happened, we were all at a cousin’s house. He took me into the room to “play”. He sat me down at the edge of the bed, started to pull at my clothes and before I knew it, his hands were down my pants. I don’t know why I didn’t scream. I don't know why I didn’t yell for help. I don’t even know why I didn’t say no. I knew it was wrong but I didn’t do anything. I sat there and cried while he put my hands down his pants to play with his penis.

That was only the first incident with more to follow. Each time, I kept the secret to myself. I didn’t have it in me to tell anyone. I was scared no one would believe me. I was ashamed because I never said no. 

“This is what you want” he would tell me. 

What fucking 8 year old wants their cousin sexully abusing them? 

I honestly can’t remember how many times it happened but it got to the point where I couldn’t handle it. My reoccurring attempts to mentally block out and forget the abuse seemed to just; bottle my emotions. And so, one night, it all hit me at once. My own thoughts overcame me. When everyone had fallen asleep, I went outside and I tried to hang myself. That was the first time I tried to take my life.  

My cousin made me feel like it was my fault. So my entire mentality from then has been built off that belief. This is my fault. I didn’t say no. At only 8 years old, I had completely shut down emotionally. On top of that, my father had walked out of my life. I remember the day clearly where I begged him not to leave because I needed him. I needed him to protect me and make me feel safe. But he left. So I built walls where my thoughts remained enclosed. Where my tormenting secret resided. 

Fast forward a few years and I am a 13 year old in my first year of high school. Everything is scary but also exciting. My best friend and I, like any other young rebellious teens, started to experiment with alcohol. She had older siblings that would get us a 6 pack. We thought we were cool because we were getting horsed off one can of Cody’s. 

One night we met up with a few of our guy mates at a park and drank there until the cops turned up. We started running. I knew if I got caught from the cops, they would have taken me home and I would’ve been fed to the wolves. So I kept running. Thinking back on it now, I just wish I would’ve went home.  

My best friend had run off in a different direction (I later found out her brother had picked her up) so I went back with a few of the boys to one of their houses. That night, I was sleeping on the couch with one of them - top and tailing. At that point, I was on the border of black-out drunk so I crashed out as soon as my eyelids shut. At some point, I woke up and he was on top of me with his fingers inside of me. I closed my eyes hoping it’ll go away, hoping he would go away. I tried to roll over as a means of me saying this is not what I want-but he forced himself on top of me again. He spread my legs apart and forced himself into me and then kissed me. It hurt. I laid there like a statue and didn’t dare to say anything. Maybe if I said no he would’ve stopped but, all I could think was here I am… the terrified little girl again. This time, my virginity had been stolen. 

I wish I put up a fight but I was afraid so I emotionally shut down again. Crawled into my shell and blocked out my emotion until he was finished.. He rolled away and I laid there with tears shooting down my face. I didn’t sleep for the rest of the night, I just kept replaying in my head what just happened to me. When morning came, I walked home in a t-shirt. I didn’t have any idea how I would explain to my mum why I wasn’t wearing any shoes or where my clothes were, I just wanted to get home. To get away from him. The following week at school, he told everyone his version of events - we had “sex”. I was embarrassed every time someone who I didn’t know came up to me; asking if it was true.

Did you and ____ have sex?” 

It went around like wild fire.

They called me slut, whore, hoe… every name in the book. I was considered “easy”. I even had guys coming up to me asking about his dick size as if it was funny. Everyone now thought I had sex with my rapist.  

 I spent most lunch times hiding in the girls bathroom crying. I mistakenly trusted someone and told them about what really happened that night only for her to go around and tell everyone I lied about being raped so people didn’t think I was a slut. I let them bully me and took the name-calling to the chin. To them, I was that girl who had given it up easy. But I wasn’t. It was stolen from me. 

I started to self harm as a way to release the pain inside my head. I was ashamed that I had let this happen to me again. The weight of all the incidents was a continuous burden. I hated males. I hated what they had done to me. I hated myself. I hated myself for being ‘weak’ and not putting up a fight. I felt defeated and sunk into that dark hole of hatred.  

 As the years passed slowly, I still held onto the pain. Often projecting it in ways that would hurt others. A selfish act hoping they would feel at least a quarter of what I faced daily. I just wanted to stop being so hurt that I wanted everyone else to hurt. I lashed out every chance I had because I hated myself. I locked all these secrets up and pushed them back so far that I began to forget all the details I thought could never leave my mind. Hatred and pain fuelled me for so long that once again, I couldn’t take it and my thoughts overcame me once more. I no longer wanted to be here and the idea of death felt like true happiness because it meant I didn’t have to feel all the pain. I wouldn’t have to fucking live with memories of what happened to me. Being alive hurt way too much.. At 20, I went outside my house with a rope and tried to hang myself again. I wanted an easy way out and that was it. For 12 long years I had kept this all to myself. 

However, the rope failed me. After passing out from losing consciousness, I woke up in pain covered in dirt. The first thing I did was run back into my house and into my mum’s room, bawling my eyes out to her. That night was the first time I let her know what had happened and what I was continuously facing each day. Put in a hard situation, she had called the suicide crisis watch team where upon my first meeting with them I was diagnosed with depression. 

I can’t say from then on it was all butterflies and rainbows because it wasn’t. It still isn’t. I still battle with my own thoughts. What I can say though is deep down I know I should never feel ashamed or blame myself. It is not my fault and no matter how many times I think it is, I tell myself a hundred times more it isn’t. Sharing this was a form of therapy as well as a step to my own peace of mind. The world we live in supports a narrative that this topic is it too ‘touchy’ or ‘taboo’. But, it is okay to talk about it. It’s also okay if you don’t want to talk about it but it’s not okay to keep sweeping sexual assault stories under the rug and victim blame. I hope at least one person can take something away from this and that those who have god forbid been through what I have experienced, may find solace and peace in their own time and place.