Day 26: Fourteen

CW: SEXUAL VIOLENCE

#30DaysOfSelfCare

In my life I have done what I thought was best for me, with the knowledge and skills I had at the time. I made choices. And sometimes choices were made for me. And I want to briefly talk about something that happened to me while growing up.

Throughout my life, I had never been popular or the centre of any social circle. I was quiet and waited my turn, was always kind and polite. I was, for the most part, a sweet and pleasant person. I had a small group of friends, I was doing okay at school, average Joe in an average life.

Starting high school was difficult for me because, well, high school. I had no close friends or people that I trusted, which made things quite stressful.

To cut a very long story short, I don’t know when it happened but I suddenly found myself with a group of “friends” who weren’t the healthiest people to be around. I started getting bullied by them daily. It started out with teasing but very quickly escalated into intimidation and, sometimes, physical violence. I remember being so afraid to go to school, not knowing what may happen to me. It was difficult. And this continued for 3 years.

I’ve told many people about my bullying experience, and talking about it makes it a lot easier to deal with. But what I’ve never talked about, and what makes this so hard, is that I’ve never told anyone was that, as part of that bullying, I was sexually assaulted and abused pretty much everyday for those 3 years. And it’s taken me more than a decade to silently work through that pain and violence. So much so that the first and only time I told anyone about it was last year. I struggled to even say the words. And I’m struggling to write them as well.

When I left high school I buried that pain, and only now am I properly starting to confront and detangle it. I think about how those three years really mutilated me and I wonder if so many of the issues I’ve experienced, and some I continue to experience, were a direct result of that trauma.

For me, dealing with stuff like this is particularly messy when it’s committed by someone or people you know and trust. We so easily tell people about stranger danger and what to do in similar situations, but we never talk about how to deal with abuse when it’s perpetrated by friends or family or people you know and trust (which is ironically the more common form of abuse).

Escaping that cycle was so hard because I didn’t have any friends or someone I could talk to about it, partly because I felt ashamed of what was happening to me. And more so, I was terrified that telling someone would make things worse. So I kept quiet. For 14 years.

I’m speaking out now because I’m dealing; and talking about things, for me, is an important part of that process.

While spilling your inner most traumas on the internet may not be the safest way to do things, I do feel that sometimes people need to hear stories like this, first hand. Stories like mine are not unique — this is happening all the time to so many young people and adults. But like with so many uncomfortable things, society can be cruelly apathetic and refuses to deal because, well, you know…

“these things happen to other people”

It’s also really hard talking about issues like this, especially if it happened or is happening to you. I think that if, back then, I knew about stories like this, if there was information about how to deal, it would’ve been much easier to identify and process what was happening to me.

And I wouldn’t need to be here, writing about my sexual assault online.

So here’s to making stories like these visible.

Zoey

🖤

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