Friday, May 1, 2009

A Teenager's Story - Part I

by Tivona, Guest Contributor

I’m not a famous author, model, or actor. I’m not Super Girl trying to save the world or Super Villain trying to destroy it. I’m not anyone special except to my family. I’m just an ordinary, fun loving, moody teenager. I’m just trying to grow up and live an average life like everyone else. I’m 14 and looking forward to high school.

Yet, there are days when I wake up and feel like I can’t relate to anyone else in the world. I want to be a ghost and disappear. . . . There are days I wish I weren’t here. During the day, I maintain A’s in school, I sing, draw in my journal, hang out online with my friends, and play the saxophone. I am an avid hunter and am a half back on my soccer team. Yet at night, when I crawl into my warm bed–surrounded by my soft blankets, my cats and more stuffed animals than you can count, I feel so alone. So isolated. Like no one else in the world knows how I’m feeling. It’s at this time that I have to deal with my own private monsters and demons.

In the dark, I feel like no one could understand me. I’m not worried about the typical teenage stuff because my life over the last four years hasn’t been really ordinary. It’s been conventional on the outside while pain and guilt raged on the inside. Quietly, I’ve suffered. How could I tell anyone that I was a victim of sexual assault? Who could I tell and who would believe me?

As the daughter of someone in law enforcement and the niece of an attorney, I have always been told, and led to believe, that if you do something wrong, you are punished. There are consequences for your behavior. Today, as I write you my story of sexual abuse at the hands of a loved one, my abuser is free to roam the streets of our town because the Prosecuting Attorney refuses to follow up on my claims of abuse.

I know it is hard to listen to these accusations. I know it is hard to comprehend that “this” person can do “these” things but there is a “silent epidemic” occurring in this country and it is harming those of us you have “sworn” to protect! Please take a minute to listen to our “cries for help.” They are not false or “made up.” They are very real. In some of our lives, there are truly monsters who hide “under our beds” and “in our closets” at night just waiting for the darkness so they can “attack.” We rely on you to help and we need you NOW more than ever!

I truly believe that society has the resources to put an end to this epidemic. At the very least, we can drastically reduce it. Why don’t we? Are we too afraid it can happen in our own homes and that’s scarier to acknowledge than believing it is the horrible monster we see on "Law and Order” that is causing this destruction? Perhaps you misread the statistics?

Talking about sexual abuse of children is crossing into frightening, unfamiliar territory for many people. We live in a very confusing society with hypocritical views on sex and sexuality. We are uncomfortable talking about sex, but we are willing to have it sold to us through songs, magazines, TV and advertisements.

I know that healing is a process, a journey. I know I will never forget the assaults and abuse but I hope to grow from this experience and I want to help others “escape” and grow too.


Child sexual assault is the world’s deepest, darkest, best-kept secret. How many are out there, I guess we will truly never know. I am asking, pleading with you to take a stand. Remind all those who choose to seek out the children, that their behavior will not be tolerated no matter who they are. I believe I did the right thing by finally “telling.” I truly hope that my openness can save other children. I told the police. I was open and honest, even though it was extremely embarrassing to retell my story to one stranger after another. I believed in the process of the justice system.

All I am asking is that the justice system “believes in me too!”

Here’s my story, it began in 1994: People talk about “Princesses.” Royalty really isn’t my thing– I enjoy the “supernatural”–vampires, really. Nevertheless, for years, I was truly a “Princess” in my family. The “first born” for both sides of extended family, I entered this world in grand fashion (an emergency C-section because I had stopped breathing). For my loved ones, I truly was a miracle and a blessing. I grew and thrived from the attention and you can truly say I was "spoiled rotten.”

So many camera flashes have gone off in my face over the years it’s amazing I am not blind. As an avid hunter, my grandfather had me appreciating nature as soon as I could walk and follow in his footsteps. Even my name, Tivona, means a “love for the outdoors." This man was my “hero.”

When I was 10 years old, my perfect, innocent “happily-ever-after-fairytale-princess” life and childhood began to crumble. That was the year my grandfather died. That was the year that my whole world began to shatter into small pieces and fall apart around me. It was at that time my uncle would also begin to “groom” me for his own sexual pleasures and means of “control.”

It began with slow rubs and touches and progressed from there. During this time, my uncle gradually eroded our appropriate adult-child boundaries, built a wall of secrecy around us and finally established compliance through my fear. Over the next three years, I was repeatedly reminded that this was “our little secret” and I mustn’t say a thing. He told me that I would be to blame if anyone discovered our secret little game. He repeatedly told me: “This would really hurt your mom if she knew” and he emphasized that he would go to jail if I told. Each time he said that, a part of me died.

I betrayed what I knew was the “right thing to do” because I was afraid “no one would believe me” and because I didn’t want my close knit family to fall apart. It just seemed easier to close my eyes, retreat to the darkness in my head and “go along” than upset anyone. My life became a fraud and a fiction.

Do you know how much energy is consumed to keep a secret hidden from ourselves and our families? As a family member, he had seduced us all. He had our devotion and love. He was trustworthy and “above reproach.” His popularity within our family covered behaviors that should never have been tolerated. He was a trusted friend and relative; a pillar of the community. He would never do anything “shady” or inappropriate. That is what he hoped everyone would believe if I ever told our “secret.”

By creating an untarnished image, he has convinced my beloved aunt and his children that he is innocent and that I am lying and trying to destroy his pristine image in our lives and our community.

Click here to read Part II of Tivona's story.


Anonymous said...

I am sitting here, in tears, as I read the first part of your story. It brought back memories of my own daughter's victimization and loss of her innocence. Her own father, a cop, didn't believe her that that his friend's son had raped her. I don't know what hurt her more, the rape or the lack of trust in her words from her own father.

Levi said...

That was a powerful blog post. Victims Rights week is the perfect week to tell this story. A perfect example of courage to other victims of child sex abuse.

FleaStiff said...

We seem to have a very sanitized world where children are no longer exposed to songs and fairy-tales that were educational as to the existence of evil doers.
English law used to classify a boy as a female and I really can't think of anything else that would so encourage a pedophile. The sailor's hornpipe was a dance of homosexual preening. Everything like this is sanitized in our history books. Lack of awareness tends to allow erosion of boundaries. Schools are not know for desiring assertive inmates. Teachers want docile students.
Proper psychological boundaries can be eroded but sexual boundaries should remain unerodable.
Stranger perpetrated activities are more easily prosecuted. Family incidents are difficult since charges are so easily fabricated particularly via a vindictive spouse's coaching. DAs can be dragged through the mud for a crime committed by a stranger but newspapers go easy on intra-family allegations.

Leah said...

The difference between a stranger assault and a familial one is that it is easier to hand someone you don't know than it is to hang a family member for the same crime. A family is further shattered when it is a familial assault because there will always be a few members that "just want the situation to go away." And they don't want to believe it is true.

My family was just about equally divided and even the ones who did believe my grandfather assaulted me and my cousins, still didn't want to see him in prison. Frankly, as a child I didn't want that either. It wasn't until I was an adult that I was able to comprehend how detrimental the incest was that I wanted to see him prosecuted. I was sad, depressed and even suicidal at times [as a child] but I didn't get angry about until I was old enough that my brain could comprehend what had happened. That is the hard part about being a child victim of incest.

Evan said...

Keep up the Good Work!
Career Coaching