Let me tell you a story I hope you cannot relate to! Let me tell you a story of loss and hurt and never being the same; a story of hope, healing and of truth. At seven years old, in her sparkly mermaid swimsuit, she had not a care in the world. Opening the door into the warm, summer afternoon, she pranced down to the pool. The water felt amazing and wonderful but even better was playing with her sister’s Shamu floaty, which she wasn’t supposed to be playing with! It was all great fun and her brother’s friend was also staying for the summer. Yay! more friends to play with.
Unbeknownst to her, life was about to change. You see, at seven, she could have never known that there are enemies that parade as friends, wolves in sheep’s clothing if you will. Happily watching the sun dance on her swimsuit, she was a mermaid on her trusty whale traveling the world. Lying on her floaty, the sun was suddenly blocked, thinking it might rain she got up only to realize it was her brother’s friend. Why was he so close? why was he looking at her like that? She couldn’t understand! Quicker than she could run away, he grabbed her vagina and asked her to name it. She didn’t recognize his eyes and they looked scary. She said nothing and hoped he would stop, but he didn’t. “I know what my vagina is called but I’m not telling him,” she thought. It seemed like forever before he let go and told her he was just “joking around”. It didn’t feel like joking around to her and somehow the day didn’t seem so nice anymore.
I never said a word about what happened until several years later. I was talking to a close friend and the story slipped out. Her reply: “me too!” My heart shattered into a million pieces and tears slid down my face. I was angry on behalf of her and for seven-year-old Kellie who was too little to push him away. I wanted to kill the person who had so deeply hurt my friend. It was a first for both of us that day; neither of us had spoken of what had happened to us so many years ago. I couldn’t understand why she stayed silent, she needed to go to the police, they would listen and believe her! As I was telling her she needed to tell someone, she looked at me and said “for the same reason you haven’t said anything” It was as if the world stopped and for the first time I questioned why I hadn’t said anything? I didn’t have an answer for her that day but left with many questions spinning in my mind.
That night, sleep was nowhere to be found. Why had I never spoken up? Why did I never call him out? Why was he allowed to get away with this but I had to live with the consequences? Would anyone believe me? Why didn’t I say anything if it really was a big deal? Did I make this up? I felt like my brain was about to explode. It took me a week to tell my family and they were shocked. I don’t think they thought it was possible for a seven-year-old homeschooled kid to be sexually assaulted in their home. They were very upset and were furious about what I’d gone through. They asked me if I wanted to talk to his family but I told them I would when I was ready to do so.
That was three years ago, and since then I thought about messaging him so many time. I friended him on Facebook a few months back, and since have numerous drafts waiting to be sent to him. For some reason, I could not find the words. I thought it would be easy to message him and tell him what a crappy person he is. I wanted to write and tell him that he was not getting away with this! I wanted to scream at him and tell him I remember, but my hands refused to write and words would not come. It was as if my mind went blank and my body froze. I can still see his cruel eyes daring me to say something, taunting me!
In sharing my story, I have heard the same thing over and over again: that happened to me as well! It makes me so angry that these things are happening daily and girls are staying silent. It was not until I tried and failed to write to him, that I finally understood why people stay silent. There are many reasons and so many different circumstances that keep us silent, but I am hopeful that as more people are sharing their stories, it opens doors for others to do the same. For when I am vulnerable, it allows others to do the same.
“I’ve debated on writing you and telling you what I remember for many years, but today is the day: I am not sure how many other girls you sexually assaulted but that cycle stops now. When you grabbed my vagina, in the pool, and asked me to name it, I refused. In fact, at seven I knew what you did was very wrong and at thirteen you knew as well. My parents were just trying to help when they let you stay in our house the summer of 2003, they let you in and you took advantage of not only their kindness but of seven-year-old Kellie. Well, I remember and will not stop until I get justice. My family is aware of what happened as well as many others in my life. You are responsible for your actions at thirteen years old; those actions have consequences and those same actions are catching up with you”
I was finally able to write and hold him accountable. It was one of the scariest things I have done and took me months to write, but it feels so good to finally be able to get that off my chest. As I have said, at the beginning of this blog post, I hope you cannot relate to this but the reality is we all have or know someone who has experienced sexual abuse. It is never okay! I know others have had to deal with sexual abuse that is 1000 times worse than what I experienced. I cannot tell you what that’s like but I do know from what I experienced that it takes courage to speak up and stand up for justice.