An op-ed by a sexual-assault survivor
I am a survivor. A pretty pathetic one at times.
I survive the unspeakable truths of my childhood. Day in, day out, and throughout my nights. They’re always there. It’s made me who I am, a neurotic nut-job with a complex case of PTSD.
My grandfather was an unhealthy man, but he always managed to molest me. Too weak to walk, oxygen tank in tow or drunker than a skunk, it didn’t matter, he had me. I was under his spell and I couldn’t make it stop.
I don’t remember when it started. I think I was 2 or 3. And we kept it alive till I was 15.
The memories of him touching, grabbing, kissing and pinning me down are vivid. I was always scared. My heart would race and my body would go into freeze mode. I never cried. And I never made a sound. Bad thoughts and bad music would echo in my head as if they were trapped inside, ricocheting, bouncing and banging into each other.
This “me too” movement, with its forthright charge and crusade-like flare, has sped right past me. For me, it lingered long enough to wreak a little havoc and painfully remind me that I will never be a normal person. For me, it triggers a voice in my head that questions and shames me for never having the courage to speak up. I have my reason. I remain silent to protect the people I love from the hurt.
My courage is different. I stand alone. I shuffle my own messy deck of shit cards. I suffer, I live, and I survive. Up and down, forever on repeat.
If my grandfather were still alive, here’s what I would say to him:
“Grampy, you fucked up my little world. And I never told on you. I remember being too afraid to sleep, too afraid to move in the slightest bit. I remember sliding my body inside the crack between the bed and the wall so you wouldn’t touch me. Hiding from you, paralyzed with fear. No tears and no voice. The only movement I felt were the racing thoughts in my head telling me I was bad and it was my fault.
“I have spent my entire life shutting down and lashing out. Sometimes I hate to be touched. I don’t trust people. I have intimacy issues. I fantasize and I “get off” on things people go to fucking prison for. I don’t feel things and then I feel too much. People call me psycho, crazy and fucked up. I feel cursed, like if I let my guard down and truly fall in love my life will fall apart, I will fall apart.
“I have spent my entire life pretending to be OK when I wasn’t. I don’t know why. Maybe I just thought it was expected. One less problem in everyone’s face. One less fucked-up thing to feel like shit about.
“Every time my skin crawls and I push people away, I think of you. I think about how dead you made me feel when you touched me. I think about how weak and shaky your hands became by the end of your pathetic life. And how you still touched me with them. I think about all the nightmares, flashbacks, and memories that still fuck me like I haven’t already endured enough of your ugly face.”
I wonder if the “me too’s” can tell me where the help and support is for us peon survivors? The ones who get raped, molested and abused by a nobody. How exactly does my stunted voice and insignificant grandfather fit in?
We don’t. I’m just a nobody girl who got fucked as a kid. A girl who can’t seem to get it the right way. All the “me too’s” can take the power and run. Me? I guess I’m good. Stuck on mute once again.
The author lives in Portland. After receiving this op-ed, The Bollard provided the author with contact information for Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine. SARSSM’s 24-hour crisis and support line is 800-871-7741. Online assistance and info are available at sarsonline.org.