March 5, 2018
This is real talk from survivors of abuse. Inspiration from one survivor to another.
SURVIVOR TALKS - NO. 0008
AUTHOR: JEMILA ADA
At the age of 14, I began getting attention from boys. I felt attractive and wanted, which was unusual for me because I had acne and glasses. A year later, when I captured T’s attention each day on my way home from the bus stop, I finally felt validated. He always had what seemed like perfect timing and would stand in his driveway, waiting for me. Although he had a girlfriend and was 18, I was happy that he showed me interest and asked for my number.
After talking and meeting for a month, I lost my virginity to him in October 1993 and he accused me of lying about it being my first time. Since he still had a girlfriend, our relationship and my existence was secret.
In December 1993, he invited me over to talk, because I had a fight with a neighbor and friend. T seemed genuinely concerned and vowed to protect me as we sat outside his apartment.
The subject eventually changed and he asked If I wanted to go to his bedroom and have sex with him and his two friends who were already inside. I felt weird and confused, but couldn’t move. My body sat frozen and I didn’t speak up for myself.
He asked me 17 times. I counted. Each time I said no.
T promised that they would make me a woman.
He took my hand led me into his house, down the hall, and into his room. The other two entered and it began.
In his room, I saw myself paralyzed on his bed with them on me, enjoying themselves. My panties and clothes were in a disregarded pile on the floor. I was ashamed of my favorite outfit and the flower-decorated panties; they made me seem like a little girl.
Weeks afterward, I didn’t talk to anyone about what happened. I had no idea how to name it. I briefly wrote in my diary that I went to his house that day. I hid so much of how I felt, managing depression, feeling hopelessly alone, and that something was fundamentally wrong with me.
When men approached me, I often looked down or away to avoid them and their possible advances. I lost my ability to be assertive and use my willful voice.
It took 20 years to overcome the insomnia. The shame, guilt, and anger haunted me even longer. Too many of the relationships that followed shrouded me in deep issues with trust, an inability to effectively articulate my feelings with men that did not value me.
Today, I focus on forgiveness, loving myself, and reassurance that it wasn’t my fault. I sleep well most nights, see myself as a survivor, and have a positive outlook. I strive to keep a regular routine of self-care as a way to preserve my mental and physical well-being through exercise, crafting, and writing. There are times when I struggle, but I am increasingly reliant on my close friends and family for support. I am willing to share my experience with others to help them. There have been a variety of winding steps in my healing, but I continue to do the work necessary in order to become the woman that I have defined and envision.
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