My admiration for David and Hayley went through the roof. When no one else believed me, they did. The pain that they had been dishing out through the years didn’t matter, all that mattered was that at the very least, they acted like they cared; they believed the words that came out of my mouth. Although they believed me when no one else did, it wasn’t enough. I was still bleeding with pain, carrying around the hurt of being let down.

“It didn’t happen.”

That’s what I began to tell myself in order to move past the hurt. Everything was ok and Brandon really wasn’t a bad guy, it was me that was wrong. The labels of “slut” stuck with me and played through my head. I rationalized his actions, and everyone else’s. I told myself he was only getting what was rightfully his.

The disgust that I and others shared for myself poured into my self-image. I hated myself. I couldn’t stand to look at myself and would go days without looking in the mirror just to avoid the image I would be confronted with. I didn’t want to see this “thing” I had become, something so vile and horrendous that no one should have to look at. I refused to look people in the eyes; I couldn’t let them see inside. I couldn’t let anyone see what I was hiding. Because surely, if anyone knew what was deep down inside of me they would keep as distant from me as possible.

I stopped caring how I looked, and intentionally ate everything I could. The weight I struggled with for years, the scale that was constantly going up and down went steadily up. I didn’t want anyone to look at me or touch me. I was living in denial. For the most part, I believed life was the best it could be. I had people that loved me and wanted me, and those fears of being alone and kicked to the side would never come true because of them. But, the one positive relationship I had in life left me with a small part that felt what was going on was wrong; that what was happening wasn’t normal. A relationship that made me second guess that what was happening wasn’t okay. Growing up I forced myself to believe my life was normal; all bad kids had this life, but the older I got the more that changed. I’d watch other people and know their lives were different. So I told myself no one would ever have the capacity to understand, no one would get why I was able to see good in something that was hurting me more than most people could comprehend.

I had to constantly change out the bandages of my self-destructive behaviors in hopes of feeling some type of relief. However, none of it was filling the void I had in me. I went out with friends to parties, got drunk and high, and did everything I could to drown out the world. I went from getting wasted at parties, to smoking pot, to popping ecstasy. It was never enough. No matter how sick I got from drinking, how wound up I got from popping pills, how stoned I felt after smoking, how much I was threatened from my parents for being out past curfew; nothing was working. No one could stop me, but me. It didn’t take long for me to realize that drugs and alcohol was just another quick fix that was doing nothing for me. Far from addicted, without hesitation, I stopped. I stopped going out, stopped drinking, stopped hanging out around the people that did; I stopped it all.

My high school graduation came and went and it became apparent I wasn’t going to die, no matter how many close calls or death threats there were. At times, I would pray to stay alive. I was never sure how to put it, what to say, or what to do, but it came out one way or another rather it made sense or not. But other times I would lie there and hope maybe, just maybe I would never have to wake up to the hurt of tomorrow. I wanted to do so much with my life, but I was tired of being alive. Just breathing was an effort and the little energy I had was put into trying to make everyone happy; trying to mask what was really going on.

Looking back, I can easily see all the excuses I made in attempt to normalize my life. I couldn’t face the truth, much like society as a whole doesn’t want to face the truth of sexual abuse. As a society, we can “like” things on Facebook that show the statistics, share pictures and statuses that speak out about sexual abuse, and watch television shows that depict the story of what survivors go through, but do we (as in the larger society – not just you as one person) really believe the effects, how it can happen to anyone, and that it’s not just the “victims” problem?

Over the past few months I have wondered where did things go wrong? Why is it socially acceptable to say out loud you need help or prayer for yourself, friends, or family over illness, dealing with death, financial stress or even marital problems, but there’s a quietness about abuse in general? What can we do as a society to turn around this “hush-hush” mentality?

Are you holding on to any excuses?

She should have known better than to ——-

It wouldn’t have happened if she wasn’t dressed that way

She was asking for it walking around at night

She should have fought or screamed

She shouldn’t have been drinking

There wasn’t any harm done – it was just in fun and games

Would you be thinking these, or other things if it were you or someone you know? How would your actions, thoughts, and outreach change if you or someone in your inner circle were affected by abuse?