My mom adored my new boyfriend and everyone thought we were the cutest thing. The approval I’d been fighting for, I finally had it. We had the same birthday, he was cute, played the guitar, and had manners. How great can you get? He had it all going for him, until we had a mutual agreement to break up. As “free bait”, the onetime fling I had with a fellow classmate, Brandon, escalated into dangerous territory. Walking the back stairways of a high school that was filled with dead end hallways, he’d follow me and pull me under the stairs, digging his hands into my wrist. I was conditioned to stay quiet; to accept it because being used and hurt was the only thing I was good for. After my no’s continuously became ignored, I stopped defending myself. He made it apparent that I never controlled anything with him. Fear crept back in as I started to lose control, again. After asking to be as far away from him as possible in our shared history class, my only option to avoid his burning hands was to skip lunch and run through the halls.
Cutting continued to be a bandage that had to constantly be replaced. I rarely left home without razor blades, but in the middle of a crisis I often found myself turning to varying alternatives. I was desperate for an escape. Brandon’s whispers filled our history class as his stares burned through me. All the hurt from Hayley and David was done with, along with their concern for me and their care. I was left without them and a mess I created from wanting attention. It didn’t take much longer until I went looking for them again.
When Hayley and I started talking again things fell quickly back into place. The brainwashed girl I was over a year ago was still there, just even easier to manipulate as I begged for forgiveness. As sorry as I was, I would never be able to repay either of them. From the beginning Hayley was the overly clingy type and extremely demanding of my time. Constantly wanting my attention, always wanting confirmation, always wanting me to promise to never leave, threatening suicide when we’d argue; it was always something. She was just as desperate for attention as I was. We were the same in that way, and were both victims of a self-centered, manipulative monster that got away with everything. She just continued to carry on the cycle of abuse.
A few times, I heard from her ex-best friend. Prior to Hayley and me meeting, they lived together as a way for Hayley to get away from family. Messages meant only for me, I’d relay to Hayley for an explanation.
She’d keep trying but I would not only refuse to listen, but would call her a liar. I’d argue with her that she was just upset because they weren’t friends anymore; she was after revenge and Hayley wasn’t the “bad” one, she was. Then, she stopped.
I refused to listen to the one person who was telling me the truth.
By my senior year of high school the blanks in my memory became significant. I’d go hours or days not knowing what had happened. I couldn’t keep up with what was going on in school, things I was supposed to do with friends, or remember things I was told I had said. It felt like my memory was Swiss cheese and I didn’t have the motivation or care to question why I was missing so much time. The one thing that wouldn’t leave my memory was the flash of a camera. Getting my picture taken made me sick from fear; the stress of getting my picture taken was almost unbearable. It wasn’t until college when I saw the other side of the camera, a camera that held snapshots of images I couldn’t grasp because I couldn’t remember, but were being passed around the globe.
- The fastest growing demand in commercial websites for child abuse is for images depicting the worst type of abuse, including penetrative sexual activity involving children and adults and sadism or penetration by an animal (Internet Watch Foundation. Annual Report, 2008).
- Child sexual abuse images and videos are often extremely graphic and violent. Among the images of identified victims submitted to NCMEC in the last five years, most depict anal and/or vaginal penetration. Almost half include depictions of bondage and/or sado-masochism.
As a society we’re conditioned to not really think about these things – sexual abuse, domestic abuse, child pornography, incest. So we remain in this web that continues to grow and affect hundreds of thousands of lives, but many people continue to back away from approaching the subject. After all, how do you talk about such topics? How do you accept that we do in fact live in world where these types of things happen and it’s not the fault of the victim? By accepting this our world is shaken, our safety and the safety of our loved ones is made vulnerable, and in the end, we can’t stop it from happening to anyone. While all of this is true, our safety and the safety of our loved ones is even more jeopardized by living in denial. We can’t stop these forms of abuse in the world, but we can educate and become a voice for those that can’t speak. While no one may want to accept the truth of the above statistics, living in denial and hurriedly scrolling past these and other statistics don’t make them any less prevalent.
Instead of remaining a silent supporter or a bystander, I challenge you to not only become more aware, but educate those around you. It only takes one drop to create a wave.