When I was 12, I was molested.
The man was a painter for a family friend’s company, working on painting my house. Other incidents happened before my sexual assault, that I was too young to recognise as sexual advances. I brushed things off and I gave the benefit of the doubt. Until, one day I could not anymore, and as a little girl I finally realised boundaries were being crossed. I justified his actions and made excuses for far too long. So worried that if I accused this man, I would be the one in trouble, I wondered if I hadn’t perceived the situation correctly.
The first thing I did after it happened was speak to my best friend about it. She was a pivotal piece of my story, because she gave me the best advice possible. Telling me to speak to my mom immediately, she was so supportive. I remember her telling me I had nothing to be ashamed of and that I did not do anything wrong.
When I told my mother, she never questioned me for a second. I do not know when my mother told my father, but I remember hiding under my grandmother’s bed from him because I was afraid he would be mad at me. As a child, believing adults were always right, I also blamed myself.
As a family, we decided not to report it. My parents were trying to do what was best for me and protect me. They didn’t want me to go through the stresses of court proceedings, and that ultimately became the reason why we did not report.
They let me make the ultimate decision and I decided not to report anything.
I still believe to this day that my parents and I made the best decision for me at the time. When I look at what I remember of all the events that occurred, through adult eyes, I feel it would have been hard to prove my word against his. There were no other witnesses to the event, which he purposely did.
The thing I struggle with the most is that sometimes I feel my sexual assault was not ‘bad enough’. The Office of Women’s Health defines sexual assault as: “any type of sexual activity or contact that you do not consent to”. It can happen through physical force or threats of force or if the attacker gave the victim drugs or alcohol as part of the assault. Sexual assault includes rape and sexual coercion”. As you can see from this definition, “sexual activity or contact” is not specific in what it means.
I always believed mine was not as bad as it could have been. But, I also try to remind myself that things did not escalate worse because I got good advice when I did. So, if you ever feel like what you are going through is not bad enough, please understand that it is still wrong. Know, if you too didn’t report, do not feel ashamed. You are not alone.
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Author: Michelle Saavedra
Michelle is a journalism graduate, who has since been working in social media. In her spare time, she can be found riding horses or motorcycles, playing video games, or experimenting with makeup. Her world revolves around her pug, cats, and horses.