Like most women, I have been sexually abused. I have never uttered those words out loud. Until now.
The person who sexually abused me was someone I knew, someone who was supposed to be a “father-figure” but used that to gain power over me. I was in 4th or 5th grade (I was 10 or 11 years old) when he started touching me inappropriately. Not understanding what was happening, this abuse went on until I graduated high school.
Let’s travel back in time for a little. I was extremely naïve back then; he gave me money and let me use the computer on weekdays (I was only allowed to use the computer for homework purposes). He would let me play computer games while he was sitting beside me, “watching” me play. While the abuse went on, I was struggling with school, detaching myself from everything that required me to “open up” and share anything related to emotions, and I struggled to make any significant friendships. It is a given that I was the least outgoing kid you’ll ever meet, constantly bullied because I was quiet.
When I started high school, I was happy that I get to stay in school for a whole day every day. I tried my best to stay in school until 5:45 p.m. (because my curfew was 6 pm and it was at least a 10 to 15 minute walking distance to our apartment). But that really did not stop him from groping me. There are days that he would masturbate in front me while I was washing the dishes, then he would pull me aside near the bathroom and order me to give him a blowjob. I remember hating half-days and exam weeks because I knew he would go home and I would have to go through the same thing over and over again; it’s like your worst nightmare is on loop, except it wasn’t.
For years, I believed that it was my fault. That’s what my relatives were saying every time they belittled women who were sexually assaulted. I tried to tell my family, but it felt like I was alone in this confusing battle. So I moved on, kept quiet and believed that it just happens and it was part of life. However, “moving on” and pretending it didn’t happen to me affected me in so many ways.
So I moved to America, thinking that my past was going to stay in the Philippines and I would begin a new life. I was wrong. About a year ago, I finally accepted that I was sexually abused. Actually, it was after seeing a video of Evan Rachel Wood sharing her story on YouTube. It may sound overdramatic or cliché but it was like someone opened a Pandora’s box. I started crying when Evan Rachel Wood said, “I’m here to tell you that I’m afraid.” It was like an arrow shot me. I was shaking because the last two words were the same words I couldn’t utter 16 years ago.
After watching that video, it inspired me to slowly accept a hard reality that I’ll have to live with for the rest of my life. It isn’t easy and it never will be, but that shouldn’t stop me from speaking my truth, especially when all I kept hearing repeatedly was:
“You should’ve fought back,” they angrily scolded me.
“You should’ve kicked his balls,” they suggested.
“Were you drunk?” they asked.
“You should’ve done this,” and, “You should’ve done that.”
I wish it was that easy. I wish I could’ve fought back or kicked his genitals. I wish I could’ve done everything to stop it. But that’s not what happened and I can’t change the past but I can do something right now and inspire the future.
This is why I decided to share this story. I used to believe that my story wasn’t worth it. But with the #MeToo movement, I realized that I was not alone in this. There are a lot of untold stories out there and one story can inspire a fellow survivor and give them courage.
So this is part of my story.
A story that I have never shared with anybody because I was afraid. But I won’t let that fear dictate my life anymore.
I am just really tired of staying silent.