I'm 39 years old and have never put my story in writing. I think anyone who knows me personally has heard it a time …or ten  I have never actually put my story in to words for the world the see or relate to but I do wear my history on my sleeve. “Secrets” is the one and only thing I do not believe in and it has taken me a long time to come to that conclusion.

My story isn’t really about recounting the tragedies and vivid memories but about my personal path to forgiveness, growth and moving.

I work in the Social Work profession, going on 17 years now in this field – prior, I worked in psychiatry, prior to that I earned an LPN/nursing degree. You could say I’ve always been drawn to the helping profession for all of my life. The brain, the psychology of the brain …I have always been curious as to why people do what they do? I have had over ten years in all of therapy. During those years, I worked in groups with female survivors – I also ended therapy by working in groups with male perpetrators; most recently, I helped sponsor a tour for Male Survivors by taking the documentary Boys and Men in Healing on road throughout Ohio.
Other than my own personal battles and demons, leading up to that week-long event for Male Survivors, I was so very uneasy about differentiating boys/men to girls/females. I could not understand why the divide – weren’t we all equally hurt souls? All along, I had faith it would be revealed why boys and men were different … I trusted the lead facilitator and the films co-producer implicitly – and WOW. What I now know – there truly are extreme differences between female and male healing paths. I witnessed an 80 year old man come forward after one of the documentary previews for the first time in his life … that is the exact moment I “got it”.

I have based my life fighting to NOT become a statistic. During those ten painstaking years of therapy, groups and my extensive history in a profession founded on helping oneself and helping others, I was also a functioning addict of both drugs and alcohol.

I was abused by so many males, I don’t really remember them all – to make the story non-novel-like, I will base my story on my first abuser, the one who most damaged me: my heart, soul, purity. CSA began for me at the ripe age of three years old …making me vulnerable for all the others that preyed upon me after.

My male cousin was 16 when it started, a juvenile himself. Again, I was 3 – I ended it when I was age 13 and he was 26, when he and his boyfriend removed my clothing and towel from the bathroom while I was showering so that I would have to walk out naked and probably be shared between him and his equally twisted male lover. It was not isolated events with my cousin, it was multiple times each and every week of my life for ten years. I showed horses with him so I was at his home, my (favorite) aunt and uncles home, practicing throughout every week and every weekend I was traveling to various horse shows – weekends were just he and I alone. I was top in the nation so I was never allowed to miss any shows… even with my desperate attempts to fake illnesses. My loving happily married parents were both self-employed and always busy, rarely went to watch me show unless it was a big one. My cousin didn’t only sexually abuse me – he physically abused me too. He would throw me from my horse if my back and legs weren’t straight – he would spook the horse so it would buck me off … he would take me ice skating at age 6, 7, and on and try to axle throw me – broke my bones. And we were good skaters, my family used to call us Ty and Randi (for you older generation – you remember them).

I quit horses at 13. In junior high I started in to sports, I ran track, I did show choir and musicals, volleyball, basketball, cheerleading – you name it, I did it and I did it well. That was strategic on my part. I knew my mom would make me chose between horses and school activities. My mother cried when I chose school and quit horses… she knew I was in love with horses, that I could mount a horse that hadn’t ever had a person on it’s back – no saddle, no reigns and I would ride them – I was seriously the “Horse Whisperer” and everyone in my family knew that.

At 13, after my cousin, is when all the other grown men abused me – pretty much every dad of my young friends, uncle of my friends, friend of my family, sailing captains my parents met on vacation – pretty much every adult man for the next three years. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me – why did I scream sex at age 13-16?

I turned the tables by the age of 16 - I became so promiscuous, I preyed on virgin boys and girls (all my age, I never SA younger –but I still SA). I became quite masterful at all the things I’d learned. I put myself in ridiculously dangerous situations … gave fake names, used and abused whomever I could get my hands on. I couldn’t figure that part out. My girlfriends started to figure me out and hated me… they would call me a “boy” because while they were all getting wronged by boys, I was doing the same thing to them and they called me out. One in particular really struggled with my behavior – one day, she and I were at a mall really far from my hometown and I bumped in to my cousin. I hadn’t seen him in years and I can’t tell you what that friend witnessed, but without saying anything – she knew. She got it, why I was the way I was …even when I didn’t know why I was like I was.

At age 18, my mother was diagnosed with brain cancer. My mother was the most awesome woman I have ever known. I remember thinking as her brain functions began to weaken that I had to tell her… we had many talks … I was her hospice nurse in the final year. We prepared for her death, she wanted me to know that my favorite aunt (who’s son abused me) would look after me when she was gone.

My mom asked me one night during our talks, do you want to know something about your aunt? I said, of course. She said, one night your aunt was traveling home from a horse race and her truck/trailer broke down. (I have a whole family of horsemen – she and my uncle raised races horses, cousin and I showed quarter horses). A man stopped to help my aunt – he raped her. My cousin (my abuser) was a product of that rape.

What the f**k, right!?

My mom had tears streaming down her face as she told me …she was so close to this aunt (my dads sister no less). In that moment I realized, I couldn’t do it - I couldn’t tell her. My mother was a LEO, she would have went ballistic – she would have killed that cousin …she would have believed me, I just know she would have. I was born in the early 70’s – your family didn’t molest your children then. I know I give her too much credit and the urinary tract infections I always had should have been a sign to her and my doctor …but I cant be mad at her. Well, not then anyway - I’ve since dealt with that.

My mother died 7 days prior to my 20th birthday. She died never hearing my story. This was the part of forgiveness with my cousin I have struggled with.

21 – 28, drugs drugs drugs. Drugs. Hated alcohol until after my son was born and saved my life a little bit. I was doing therapy, no 12 steps – but therapy.

I dated every addict loser you can imagine, I financially supported them all – I always had to have the upper hand. My son’s father beat me – I had never dated an abusive person prior. I left him when my son was 18 months old and mimicking his dad by wrapping his baby hands around my neck when he was mad at me.

I swore off men from 30-32. I promised to never date a man again – I was a full fledged lesbian…even though I wasn’t dating anyone. I was being a single mom and I liked it.
…til I met my prince on the internet – no dating site, a site you had to be invited to join for graphic designers and consultants. I suppose I preyed on him too – my first words to him were I don’t speak Spanish but I think you’re beautiful. He replied, I don’t speak Spanish either, I speak Portuguese (he lived in Brasil) – and I think you’re beautiful too. and so we began.

I told him every dirty nasty secret I owned. Everything. I wanted to repulse and scare him off because I wasn’t worthy of love. Mom always told me, if anyone uses your secrets against you – they aren’t worthy of you. so I was testing him.

He gave me an assignment after two years of “dating” from different continents: confront your cousin, forgive him, leave your past - then come to Brasil and be my wife.
The weeks leading up to our first meeting 2 years in the making he would gently ask, have you done it? Time was closing in on me and I couldn’t do it. Therapist said DON’T – you could be re-victimized …future husband said, do it for me - it’s that easy. I decided to forgive my cousin without confronting him and lied to my future husband.

I left for Brasil, I married that wonderful man – I had to come home alone and wait a whole year for his spousal visa to come… but I went back and got him and brought him home. Eight years later, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done in my whole life – we get better every day …with the exception of that “one” day.

He had just arrived to the US and my aunt wanted to throw a party in my honor. My uncle had been very sick, had triple bypass and he was near me in a hospital. She couldn’t visit him every day so I did, twice a day. I loved him. So I called my aunt and asked, will ‘HE’ be there? NO, it’s just going to be us - we can’t wait to meet your husband, etc. Day of the party I called again, will “HE” be there? NO! just come! my husband promised me he would never forgive “him” – he would never breath the same air as “him” and I knew if we got there and he was there, it would not be good.

We pull in the driveway and there he was. I was driving and I was in the driveway and I was frozen and my husband says, that’s him isn’t it – you better leave, you better go now. I had no where to go, I was trapped. He walked to my husbands car door and I’m at this point convulsing in fear – he opens my husbands door to greet him and my husband turns to me and says, you have five minutes to talk to him and his mother or I tell myself. My cousin reads my husband loud and clear and swiftly walks away from my car. My 4 year son is in the backseat can’t wait to get out and go see the horsy’s …I literally wanted to die. It was out of body, I tell you.
Now I know my husband is in the wrong, he now knows – but he is a passionate man and adores me… we all make poor choices, this was my husbands.

I go inside and pull my aunt aside, away from everyone. I was sobbing … I said I didn’t want to do this- I could have gone my whole life with this secret, but my husband can’t – he’s angry with you, he’s angry – and if I don’t do what I’m about to do, he will make things worse. I said to her, I called you! I asked you if he would be here – I asked you over and over …didn’t you wonder why!? So I told her… I told her how long it happened, how I had been in therapy and I was okay. I said, I’ve always hated when you called me the black sheep or when you referred to me as the wild child – the one who met the guy on the internet and went off to marry him… I hated it because your son caused me that reputation. I could see in her eyes it killed her. she was just told something heinous about her son, for christ sakes. She wrings her hands, she’s rocking – she says give me a minute … she leaves. I’m alone. she went and talked to her son. Sometime later my aunt, my cousin and I go for a walk and although I’m nervous – I think here it comes, he’s going to apologize – I’m not being mean, I’m not threatening criminal charges – I just have to get it out, he’s going to be sorry and away I can go and forgive it all.

He starts screaming at me, I didn’t do those things – I’m gay, i have never been with a woman! He’s screaming, I mean out of control. i said, 3 - 13 ... i was hardly a woman - i knew you were gay before anyone else, do you not remember the day I ended it? It was bad. it was beyond bad. I couldn’t believe it – he had his chance to be forgiven, say he’s sorry – say I was a kid too, I’d already worked through it all. But he wasn’t having it. he went in to that house and one by one told everyone in my family that was there that I was spewing this lie about him, that I wanted his money – (I have never one time in my life borrowed one red cent from anyone)… and my family one by one took his side.

I gather my son and husband to leave, I am out of my mind – full-on nervous breakdown. everyone in my family knew and not from me, from him – and no one believed me. the wild child. I cried for weeks. Couldn’t work. couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep – maybe the worst I had ever been. My husband didn’t know what to do with me. all he could do was say, I’m so sorry, I’m so so sorry…

My best friend was at the very same time putting her daughters grandfather in jail for molesting her daughter. She took over my life, she nursed me back, she fought for me when I couldn’t breath, she reminded me how many people I’d helped – including her baby and how far I’d come – she was not going to let this sick man win again.

Little by little I came out of it with her help and my husbands undying love – my husband and I bought a car, a house – I enrolled in school and was excelling… in the divorce of my family – I was finally living …which made my husband not wrong at all. Today, I can be intimate with my husband and not leave my body to do so. I can be a crazy over protective mother who says to other teens around my 11 year old, don’t ask to see my son naked – don’t be inappropriate with him because I won’t stand for that…I can share my story and I know one day, sexual abuse will no longer be a secret.

I am one in four. You are one in six. I will fight for us all because you are all worth it.

I want to thank Pero/Igor for the kind words that inspired me to do this today.