I was the youngest of 5 kids before when I was born. My parents were about to get a divorce when my mom found out she was pregnant late in life and they stayed together for another 4 years to try and make things work but my father was very abusive to me and my brother and sister (one of my brother and one of my sisters had died before I was born) and my mom was rarely home because she worked constantly.

I often was left home with my brother who was 9 years older than me. When I was 3 and he was 12 he started to do things to me when he was left alone to watch me. To this day I can still picture everything like it happened yesterday and just thinking about it makes my heart drop and I have to fight back tears. Finally when I was 4 my dad got turned in for child abuse and was taken out of our home and my mom filed for divorce. During this time a CPS agent was sent to talk to me and my brother and sister to talk about my dad. Being 4 and very talkative I told the CPS worker about the "games" my brother played with me that I didn’t like and she told my mother.

My brother struggled with depression and my because of this my mother put him in an impatient boys and girls home to make sure he didn’t attempt suicide again after all this came to light. I stayed with my mom while my dad awaited trial and my father contacted my brother to tell him that if he testified that my dad never hurt us that he would take him out of the boys and girls home and let him live him my dad. So my dad wasn’t charged due to my brothers conflicting testimony and my brother was released into my dad’s care. About a year later my dad then kidnapped me and I stayed with him and my brother till I was 8.

My brother continued to do things to me in that time and no one cared. I was taken back to my mother’s home at 8 and then when my brother turned 18 my dad kicked him out and my mother took him back in even though he was hooked on hard core drugs and everyone just pretended like what he did to me never mattered. Despite all his problems, I was still the black sheep of the family. I feel like my mom hated me for making her stay in a marriage she was so clearly ready to be done with. My brother no longer touched me when he moved back in at 18 but just knowing that everyone still favors him over me and pretends like nothing ever happened and the fact that my mom spent so much time and money trying to get him clean and now still guilt’s me into coming to dinners with him and the family all the time made me always feel growing up that all I was good for was sex.

It fucked with my head and made me act like a grown woman and do grown woman things at a very young age and put myself in stupid situations. I started dating much older men at age 11 and lost virginity (what I considered my virginity since in my eyes it was my first consensual time) at age 12. It was to an older boy at my school. He was one of the most popular boys at our school and I felt so lucky that he even talked to me. We dated for 6 months before he basically told me that he was ready to take the next step in our relationship and have sex and if I wasn’t that that meant I didn’t love him yet and there was no point in being together and in my 12 year old brain that made sense so I did and then it’s like a switch flipped in him. He became very physically and mentally abusive. He would beat me black and blue and would monitor what I wore and who I talked to and what I ate. He always told me I was too fat and I became very anorexic for 2 years try to please him and live up to his standards. He would constantly cheat on me and then buy me expensive things and take me on romantic dates to "make up for it" and I believed that was love because he stayed. As much as we fought he never left and I thought that was the same as love. Then one day he beat me at school and was suspended and he sent out videos and pictures he had taken of me during times we had been having sex to kids at our school.

Our principal became aware of this after finding them on a confiscated phone and contacted my mom. After that my world collapsed. For some reason I still felt like I needed him in my life and like a part of me had been ripped away. I felt like it was somehow all my fault and I tried to kill myself that night by drinking cleaning supplies. It didn’t work obviously but I didn’t want my mom to know what I had done so I hid the fact that I was puking and that I could hardly even talk from how badly it had corroded my throat by stayed to myself as much as I could and continuing to go to school. My ex was only suspended for 3 days for hitting me so when he came back things got even harder. He would trip me in the hall and put mean notes in my locker and purposefully do things with other girls in front of me but then when he saw one of my guy best friends give me a hug when I was crying one day he beat him up after school. I tried transferring schools but within 2 weeks the pictures and videos and rumors of me had made it there too and again I tried to commit suicide. This time I overdosed on an insane amount of sleeping pills and Tylenol. When my mom realized what I had done the next morning she took me to the hospital and died in the hospital for almost 3 minutes before they brought me back. I woke up 5 days later in the icu and was there for another 3 days before I was transferred to a different hospital 9 days before I was put in a children’s home for a while because my mother was very unstable and they didn’t want to put me back in her care right away.

My few friends that I thought I could trust ended up all sleeping with my boyfriend and I felt so lost and alone for so long and really felt like I was completely worthless and I made a lot of careless decisions with older men which often resulted in me getting hurt. But I didn’t care. I went through my teen years with the mindset that no one could possibly do anything to me that was any worse than what had already been done. I had no value for my life and just wanted to do anything I could to get this pain and this pressure out that built up inside me. As soon as I turned 18 I moved in with a man much older than me and again was very mentally abusive but I thought that’s what I deserved.

It’s what I was used to and I again thought, no matter how bad things got or how horrible and cruel he was to me and how much we fought, he always stayed. And I thought that was the same as trying and that was the same as love. It took me a very long time before I felt even ok with myself.

This last year though I have met so many kind people who have taken me into their lives and shown me what true love and true kindness are. Complete strangers who have become my best friends and my family and have shown me that I am worth more than my past. It gave me the strength and support to leave the man I was with and now I am in a much better place with a much healthier mindset. I’m turning 21 soon and I won’t lie, these things still come to the surface and bother me every once in a while and I can’t say if that will ever change but it does get easier.

I can’t erase the memories but I can rise above them and leave them in the past. I can become the person I want to be and not let what’s happened to me take over my life or be an excuse to my bad behavior anymore. I am finally starting to be comfortable in my own skin and I am so blessed for all I have now. It will always get better if you let it and use your experience as motivation instead of an excuse. Rise above your past and don’t stay quiet. Get help if you need help, speak out if you are stuck in a harmful situation to someone you can trust. Please know that there are so many good people out there that are more than willing to be that support you need, you just have to find them.