I Am Still Not Ashamed

I AM NOT ASHAMED

And, I have no qualms writing or talking about this:

I was sexually molested as a child.

Why do I write about it?    Why am I not embarrassed or hiding it?    Because I do not have shame for what someone else did to me.  None.  And I should not have to whisper about this.  I should not have to pretend it did not happen.  I will not.  I will not hang my head.  And if I tell you?  You do not need to hang your head in embarrassment for me.   Do you know what you should do?  You should rear back in anger!  No, lets go with rage.  You should fill with rage.  Or, ask me questions.  How did I cope?  Did I always cope?  What did I do?  Didn’t I tell anyone?  

I write regarding being molested as a child, because that is my experience.  So I don’t mean to suggest being sexually molested at any age is acceptable.  Of course it’s not.  But my point of reference is as a child.   And there is no child born to this earth that should ever have to go through that.  Period.   There’s no other statement I can think of to state it clearer:

No child should have to endure being molested.

Let me give you a glimpse of a child’s view of the world after you, sorry, after I’ve been molested.  And I feel a need to preface this with it was not family, because that’s one of the first questions people ask me if they find out and are comfortable asking questions.  I say this because it was not family, and oddly, I didn’t speak up as a child because I felt a need as a child to protect my family from this.   A little ironic, huh?

How I saw the world.

As a child now…..I can trust no one.   At a time when my life should have been nothing but a safe and trustful place, it wasn’t.   I was ripped from the very normal of my child’s world and placed in a foreign and dirty place.   Nothing was clean enough, or clear enough.    I have to keep a secret or too many people will be upset with me.  So I don’t say anything.  I stay quiet.  I don’t know what I can say.   Or what I shouldn’t say.  I look at other kids, happy kids.   Kids who weren’t picked for this.   Kids who don’t have to keep secrets.   Kids who don’t have someone touching them, and making them squeeze their eyes shut because they, I, don’t want to see the ugliness of what is happening.

I slept  in a ball.   Because asleep I don’t have to think about it.   But sleep is never really easy, and never really an escape.   Because dreams are not always escapes.   Sometimes.   But not always.  Waking up and going to school I walked through my days knowing it wasn’t happening to anyone else.   How do I know?  Because no one looks like how I feel.    And what do I look like?   When I look in the mirror, I am the one that is expendable.  Throw-away-able.  As the child I was scared of what every one in the world wanted from me.  Because the most powerful moments of my very young life?   They weren’t positive powers.   They weren’t confidence boosting moments.   The most powerful moments of my young life were filled with terror, solitude and disgust at myself.   Because it happening to me, meant I wasn’t as good as everyone else.   As a child I couldn’t focus.  I couldn’t remember.  I still struggle with this today.   I remember going to one fifth grade class and walking in and being told there was a test on the Shakespeare.   It’s funny I remember that day being told we were going to have the test, but I have absolutely no recollection of ever discussing Shakespeare in that class.  I failed that test.   And I still remember the teacher mocking one of my answers.   The question had something to do about what a character said about “tomorrow”.   I still don’t know enough about Shakespeare to tell you what it was about but I remember my answer and I thought it poetic which is why I wrote it:   “there is no tomorrow”.

Kinda sad.   Now that I think about it.  On the surface the answer seems to be the sad part.   To me, it’s missing out on all of that learning.   All of the interacting I should have had with my classmates.   All of the fun I should have felt I was having.   Don’t get me wrong.  I had fun.  I had my moments.  But a lot of that time is muddled in my head.   Because I was always thinking.  I never stopped thinking.  Wondering.   Worrying and fretting.   And trying to protect my family from finding out.   Kids, they are so amazing.  Okay, so I didn’t have the greatest of ideas.  But it’s what I felt I could do for them, protect them.  I spent so much time thinking that I really missed out on the experiences I was walking numbly through, in life.  I wasn’t purposefully avoiding life.  I was trying to survive something that I wasn’t well equipped to deal with and process.  As a result, I missed a lot of what was going on around me.   I think this is what bothers me more than anything.   Memories of my family, my parents, siblings, grandparents.  They are foggy at best in most situations.  Not engaging with my life then, is something I can never regain.  

But you know what?  I am proud of how I handled myself.   It was not the most brilliant way to handle someone hurting me.  I should have told.  But I didn’t.  And I feel good about it because I thought I was protecting others.   Silly as that seems, it is part of what got me through every thing.  Instead of letting it destroy me, I eventually learned to embrace who I am because of it. Of course I would have rather it not happened.  But I don’t have that option.  What I do have is today.   And what I do have is what I can do with today.   And I do have the ability to choose what I will or will not do today.    And I choose good.  I choose control.  I choose to try and improve who I am on a daily basis.

I hope every single one of you who read this have absolutely no way of relating to what I am writing.  Sadly, I know this will not be true.   But for those of you who cannot relate I want you to know that when a child is molested it is a physical, emotional and mental scar.   Unfortunately people don’t see it as such.   Some don’t,  anyway.   But I am telling you, it is there.  And being part of our formative years, it does have an on-going impact.  Recognized, or not.  Positive or negative long lasting effects, it has impact.

Why do I tell you these things?  Not for sympathy.   So why even bother?  For me.  For others who might understand.  I need to say it.  I need to say it over and over again.  Because even though I believe it, I do have moments when I need to re-believe it.  I need to remind myself and convince myself all over again.   I am good.  I am not bad.   Something bad happened to me.  Someone else is bad.   I?  I am who I choose to be.   I am not what  someone else chose to do to me.  I am not perfect.   But I am what I am because of the life I have lived.  The decisions I have made.  The good and the bad of who I am are on me. And I will not let anyone else determine that for me.  I certainly will not live my life giving one more moment of control of my life to what happened to me.    If I could give any child who has been molested something, it would be control, and self respect.  I would take each child by the hand and have them look in the mirror to see the reflection of an innocent, valuable and free human being.   Free of guilt.  Free of shame.   Free of burden.  I would free them from the ugliness that clouds their vision.   I would free them from the filth that they  envision swirling around their world.  I would grab that weight they carry in that backpack of guilt, shame and horror, and I would relieve them of it.  Because it’s not theirs to carry.

I would remind them that they are the good.   The pure.   The innocent.   No one can take that from them.

World, listen up.   I ask,  and I kind of want to demand that you do not dare  look at me with that look.   That look of sorrow.   Though I appreciate the emotions of shock, or sadness, or even horror, I beg you, look differently.  Look at me.   Don’t drop your eyes and look or act towards me like I am damaged.   How am I damaged?   What did I do to be labeled as different, or pitiful?   I did nothing.  And yes, I still say that to convince myself more than to convince you.  

I am writing this for the child who as you read this is being molested.   I am writing this for the parents who don’t know.  I am writing this to make sure everyone understands that there is no shame no shame no shame! I am writing this for the child who was molested who never sought help, who never told, and who has never reclaimed the control of their own lives.   I am writing this because it’s the right thing to do.

I will not hang my head.

I am not ashamed.

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72 thoughts on “I Am Still Not Ashamed

  1. russtowne says:

    You have much to teach the world, Colleen. Please help parents to listen and be watchful. Help them to recognize signs early. Help youngsters to find the help, support, comfort, and allies that will stand with and by them as they struggle to find the courage to speak their truth.

    • Thank you Russ. I wrote this back in 2011 and wanted to reshare it with a few edits. I use to quiz and lecture my kids SO much. I wasn’t going to let it happen. ANd now that they have kids….I cannot let that vigil down. They all deserve the life of a child.

  2. You are a strong woman Colleen and I feel happy, that you are doing your best to see, what is was, as happened to you back then.
    There are many sick people, who abuse kids in different ways and never face their guilt and get punished, as they should be. At least for the kids to prove, that they did not do anything wrong and did not deserve to be molested, no matter what the abuser ever told them.
    You don’t have to be ashamed Colleen, you were a kid and kids need protection against those monsters, as abusers are.
    Send you love and light, my friend.
    Irene

  3. niaaeryn says:

    I am at a loss for words, other than thank you for your voice, words, compassion, and strength.

  4. Good for you and thank you.

  5. jmgoyder says:

    My heart goes out to the child of you. This is such a courageous piece of writing. I have no adequate words.

  6. reocochran says:

    You are an amazing woman, Colleen. I got tears in my eyes for the little innocent and precious girl you were and how you got this taken away. 😦
    Your story is like a “voice crying out to those who are left in the dark,” cowering or like you exoerienced, wrapped up in a ball.
    I worked with children at a battered women’s shelter where several had not only abusive parent or grandparent, but other family members who sexually molested them. I cried, I used dollhouse characters in individual sessions to wrote up reports on 180 children in less than 2 years. My oldest one had a boy babysitter who asked her to use a washcloth on his privates like he had done while changing my son. She was 2 and a half, he was one. This young man worked in a church nursery and was our trusted newspaper boy. I did not know but she cried after the 2nd time he babysat so I quit using him. One year later her verbal skills better, she told me. Children’s services believed her words. (Creepy but ones a child would not make up:”Annoint my – – – -.Clean it and rub it.”) I felt awful for her but did feel better that I had “listened” and believed her. The children’s services woman went to the pastor and the boys parents but no court or “punishment.” Not sure if this is okay to put into comments. I trust you to edit if you feel it is inappropriate, Colleen.

    • This is absolutely appropriate Robin. How scary for you, as a parent. It was the thing I tortured myself over, that I wouldn’t be able to protect my child, or make them feel safe and comfortable telling me. I wanted them to know they could tell me anything and I would believe them, protect them, I would have taken someone to the mat to protect my child. I worried, I stayed awake at nights, I asked, I lectured.

      I’m so sorry you and your child experienced that. And it is what we need to talk about.

      I don’t know how amazing I am. But thank you. 🙂 I don’t want to be afraid to talk about it, even though I am. I do it despite my fears, and because of my fears.

      • reocochran says:

        I am happy to know you and hope we can have a chance to meet in “real life.” I just know that we will hug a lt, Colleen. My oldest daughter knows I did not intend this to happen and really heard good references about the boy. He was in high school and definitely knew better. We have replayed many aspects of this but I think she has some residual memory of the interaction. The first time he babysat she didn’t cry. The second time she did and we ate out and skipped our date night. We never had him again. I trusted him with 2 precious children. Sad but could have been much worse, I guess.

  7. Sue Vincent says:

    Such things are not easy to write, not easy to read and fewer do so than should. People shy away from seeing a truth that makes them squirm in reflected fear and shame… not for anything they have done, but because it has been done and is outside their experience. Or because it has been done to them, and for the child there is fear and shame.

    • I know that fear and shame well Sue. If wishes were real….I would wish away the burdens of those fears and shame and embarrassment of children who were not only physically assaulted, but then spend an enormous amount of energy carrying those burdens.

      And I do recognize why people look the way they do, it’s hard to hear these things. And I appreciate the feelings people have. Not only is it outside of many people’s experience (thankfully!) but many people feel so powerless in ‘helping’. I do get that.

      Thank you!

  8. April says:

    ROAR! I didn’t experience the same type of physical abuse, mine was all mental. When I should have played happily along with my friends I was afraid to, in order to avoid the constant ridicule. Thanks for talking about how you have learned to not let it control you. It’s a tough journey but in the end I think it makes us much more compassionate and empathetic.

  9. ksbeth says:

    and none of us could be prouder of someone than we are of you for the way you speak out loud and clear to others about this, so that they may not have to endure this and feel shame. you deserve to hold your head as high as you can get it. you are amazing, colleen.

    • Thank you Beth. Not sure I’m so amazing. But thank you for thinking so 😉 My first ‘wish’ is that this horrificness doesn’t happen to anyone. Second wish, since I know the first isn’t coming true, is that every child is empowered.

      Again, thank you Beth.

  10. NotAPunkRocker says:

    I love you for this and for being you ❤❤❤ thank you for writing about this.

  11. Hold your head up high darling lady. You have written of your internal power, that most in your situation would surely crumble. Keep on speaking out so that others who have suffered know that they can come through. Big hugs from me and all the others who know what an amazing human being you are. ❤️❤️

  12. tric says:

    I know exactly how you feel. It is the shame others sometimes seem to feel for us that can make us feel ashamed before we become strong.
    I remember telling a friend as an adult and her first words were ‘But didn’t you know you were doing wrong’.
    Recovery from what happened takes time, but recovery from peoples reactions to it, I personally found to be much more difficult to get over.
    Here in Ireland just last week a step father was jailed for ten years for abusing his three step daughters from when they were nine years old. Their mother held his hand. She does not believe her children.
    I am not ashamed of what I did. I was a child. I am proud of myself and even though, like you there were many absences and loses in my life, today is wonderful. I am strong and I know what it is to be unhappy which makes me embrace and enjoy the life I live today.
    Well said Colleen. Take a bow today and hear the applause of myself and the many others who may not comment.

    • I’m not shocked by your friend’s comment. I mean, I am, but not surprised. Things like that are still said. I have noticed over the years, the different traits of my personality and slowly I have tried to break some of them down, because I don’t like them, and I recognize how they developed. I will crack through those. One step at a time.

      And that woman who’s children were abused? She reabuses them with her actions. Her weakness within her, whatever it is, is her loss. She has most likely lost those children forever. I can’t imagine how that must have felt for the children to see her holding his hand through that.

      You are strong. You are amazing. And you have taken control of your life. ANd that is strength. I won’t take a bow, but I will gladly stand up WITH YOU and cheer like mad because we know, we determine, life.

  13. Ann Koplow says:

    Much love to you, Colleen, and to all who are commenting here about your post. ❤

  14. Thanks for sharing this! It is very powerful! thanks for telling us we are free to ask questions! How did it all blow up, did everyone find out and what happened? hope my question isn’t too bold?

  15. You are a very strong and amazing woman! I love how you can use something so terrible for good by speaking about it and getting others to speak about their own experience with it and not be ashamed because of it. That in itself is pretty amazing! I am so glad to have met you on WP and proud to call you my friend! ❤

    • Thank you Priceless. ❤ I appreciate you so very much. I do want people to talk about it. I want the people it happened to to not be embarrassed by the actions of others, it's not their shame. I hope people hear that.

  16. Val Boyko says:

    I hear you! Such an inspiring and powerful voice. You are a strong, resilient and caring human being. I’d love to give you a big hug right now. ❤️

  17. I love you! ❤ then and now and furever ❤

  18. I felt like a little bitty bunny, vulnerable, crouched down, small. I never talked about it for a long time. Then each telling made me stronger and finally I feel like I can roar. Never a victim again. I too was hyper vigilant for my kids and now theirs. It never goes away. Peace.

  19. Gibber says:

    So powerful Colleen. You know I can relate. Like you I don’t wish that anyone could.

  20. Mustang.Koji says:

    This is one possible reason you should continue to blog, Chatter Master… To educate us – us being from around the world. The number of eloquent comments you have is the other reason – you are being read by many…

  21. Jim McKeever says:

    Incredibly powerful, Colleen. You are a wise, strong and compassionate human being.

  22. Kim says:

    I am a sexual assault prevention educator and I travel to public schools in 5 counties to teach Erin’s law which tells the students from PreK – 12th grade that they are the boss of their body, no one should ever touch their private area except to keep them clean and health. Second, I always ask the kids if it is ever a child’s fault if someone else hurts a child like that in their private area and all the kids say “NO!” Then I ask them to repeat, “It’s not your fault”. I do this each time hoping a child who is or has been abused will come to realize that the abuse was not their fault. Last, I tell them to tell an adult they trust and if that adult does not help, please tell someone else until you get help.
    I am very proud of my job to help kids who have been secually abused. This year is my 5th year as a prevention educator. I really appreciate your story to have a perspective from the child’s point of view who is living daily in the trauma of abuse. Thank you for speaking up!

    • Thank YOU, for what you do. I don’t ever remember hearing any of this discussed when I was a child (more than a few years ago….). I don’t fault anyone for that. But I will continue to say the same things. It is NOT a child’s fault. It wasn’t my fault. And truth be told Kim, sometimes I do have to remind myself. The older I get, the less I have to remind myself. It’s not often I do have to. Every great once in awhile it sneaks up on me. But due to great education, and better life experiences, I know what I need to do to give it a swift and furious kick right back out of my life.

  23. Heartafire says:

    Colleen I have known for sometime , from reading you, that you are strong and resilient that you were harmed makes me angry. How courageous you are to give us this heads up. I know that kids don’t tell and knowing that means it is our responsibility to be alert to all the silent signs that our child may be in trouble, may have fallen into the hands of a predator. Thanks for the wake up call to all of us. Much love to you!

  24. Those of us afflicted with addiction, mental illness, child abuse and other dreadful things must share our experience, strength and hope with others that suffer. Good job.

  25. lbeth1950 says:

    I am so glad you survived so well and are not ashamed. When I was a child, I didn’t know some adults were bad. I could have so easily been a victim. I wouldn’t have told if I had been told not too. It could have been me. It was my sister.

  26. Thank you for writing this! You helped me today! I am not ashamed!

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