By Maria Kjdrian
Content Warning: sexual assault, childhood trauma
I remember that child, that happy, go-lucky child. I have pictures of her in my album. Yes, I do remember her. But weirdly, I can’t seem to remember being her.
Why is it so difficult for me to recollect all the happy moments and fun experiences I had during my childhood? Why do I always go back to that horrible night every time someone asks me about that period of my life?
Do you know what confuses me the most?
The fact that everything is so blurry. As if in a dream. Yet, it still dominates my memories.
Sometimes, I even dare to wonder: Did it really happen? Or was it just my imagination?
After all, that’s the first thing people asked when I told them about it.
They didn’t believe me.
But then I remember it all. And yes, I tell myself, yes it definitely happened. I know it happened because, for years, I wouldn’t let anyone hug me or kiss me. I wouldn’t let anyone come close to me. Every time I was around men, I had this pain in my stomach. Every time a guy smiled at me, I would panic and my heart would beat so fast that I couldn’t breathe.
Despite all that, I slowly started doubting myself. Because of how people responded. Because of the skepticism in their voices. Even the purest truths eat themselves up when confronted by doubt.
Did I give him the consent to do it because I agreed to go in the car with him?
Because that is also what I was told. I was told that I shouldn’t have accepted his offer to take me home. But then I remember that 13-year-old child’s tears on my cheeks, and I hear her voice trying to say: Please, no. I remember her hands trying to push his hands off her chest, trying to stop his fingers that were creeping up her thigh. The fingers that would eventually find their way inside her. I remember how she threw up after he got his tongue out of her throat. I remember how he grabbed her hand and stuck it down his pants.
Did I ask him to squeeze his face on my breasts? No.
Did I force him to sit on my lap while unbuttoning himself? No.
Then why should I blame myself?
How on earth would a 13-year-old consent to that? All I wanted was a ride home.
I’ve also caught myself wondering: Did I enjoy it?
Because I was also told that I must have, since I didn’t really fight him back. But how could someone at my age and in my position “fight back”?
Today, a decade later, when I ponder about why I blamed myself, why I was so disgusted by myself, all I can think of is how people around me reacted to the story.
How they didn’t want anyone to know about it “for my own sake”.
If you’re a girl out there who has been through something like this, don’t blame yourself. You’re a hero. No. You’re a SHERO! You have thrived and blossomed into the amazing human being you are today. You are a testament to resistance and the embodiment of resilience. Don’t ever define yourself as a victim because you are not what he took from you; you are what made you stand tall and hold on to this life: Your spunk and bravery.
Yes, I remember that child, that happy, go-lucky child.
And one day, I hope I’ll finally be able to remember being her.