I would like to tell you a little about my teenage years. It think this is the best platform to do so.
My grandma, her late husband and my parents were once entrepreneurial heavyweights in my country. A lavish home, crystal chandeliers, eight luxury cars and influence above law—this is what my “family” was all about. They had the resources to pull strings on the political stage as well as showbiz and the media. Before all of them went to prison for countless counts of tax evasion and real estate fraud, I, as a teenager, didn’t have the fabulous life one would expect. I can’t say I didn’t have a childhood though, because I did, and it was pretty rad.
When my “parents” had just started becoming successful, we would always travel. But as years came and went, their businesses became darker and I became more of a hostage in my own home. It was a slow transition and I barely noticed how we moved into bigger homes, how my “parents” became colder with me and were home less and less as the space in my room grew but there was no love to fill it in with.
During my teenage years, I suffered a lot of mental and physical abuse caused indirectly by my “family’s” (in quotes because this is not what a family does) actions, speculation and me ending up being at stake. Living in a criminal family didn’t always mean expensive clothes and private schools. In fact, I never went to school and was home-schooled. I had never been to the movies or the most simple fast food place because—according to my parents—I was “an easy target” and could be a “tool of manipulation” if I were to be kidnapped. Which I did.
(My hands are slightly shaky as I’m writing this because I’ve never told my experiences to anyone apart from 2 of my closest friends.)
Please think before you say things like “my work hours are literally torturing me,“ or “tickles are a real torture,” because I know what torture means.
The reason why I never wear short sleeves nor expose my arms, is because I have cigarette burn scars all over my arms from when I was 14, when a mob tortured me to get hundreds of thousands of euros worth of assets from my parents and grandparents.
It’s hard making up new stories when people in summer ask me why I don’t wear T-shirts. What nobody knows is that they also abused and violated me sexually. Nobody has been held accountable because I couldn’t tell anyone. Nobody was there for me, I couldn’t even tell the police, because police doesn’t exist in that world. Nobody heard my silent, helpless call for help.
Of course, my “family” didn’t hesitate and did everything that was requested in order to retrieve me, but the mental scarring is still there and I was constantly living with the feeling of guilt which they made me feel for the loss of some of their property and money, even to the point that I tried to kill myself once when I was 16 and again when I was 17.
As soon as I turned 18, my grandparents and “parents” went to jail as some of their key political connections were dropped and charged for bribery.
After these disgraced politicians testified about my “family”, their empire went down and they went to prison also. My mother and father are in for 25 years each, my grandfather died even before conviction and my grandmother was never prosecuted because her name didn’t appear anywhere in any documents. She was smart enough to hide all her property and now lives in Cyprus.
I also testified, of course. I told them about everything except the sexual abuse, I simply didn’t have the courage to do it. I know that some of you may say that they’re still my family and blah, blah, blah, but, honestly, I have never felt freer in my life than after having contributed to all of my immediate family being imprisoned.
I turned 21 last month and I am still seeing my psychologist every week because of my severe mental trauma; however, I really, really try hard to enjoy life as I currently live with my godparents in their countryside beach house and everything just seems so…fulfilling. It may be my sleeping pills and anti-stress medication, but the tiny things like helping with gardening, swimming in the sea and driving a car, are simply too beautiful to explain.
I finally think that I’m taking the baby steps in starting to live.