Like so many things in life, I want to get to the part where I’m a survivor and write about how it changed my life. There is one moment in my story that I can point to and say, “There it is! That’s when I really felt like I was no longer a victim.” The moment is two different events, but they are beautifully tied together and one spurred the other. More than anything, I want to tell you about that moment and forget all the others that preceded it. That is what a lot of people would like survivors to do.
I have to go back a little bit, before going forward.
I grew up in a small town of 950 people. We played outside all summer, climbed trees, rode our bikes, drove the golf cart through town. Did things that all kids do. We were warned about the stranger down the block even though there were no strangers within the boundaries of our little town and we never really went anywhere else. It was the strangers inside the house that we thought we knew who were the ones we really needed to be warned about.
Do you wonder why I keep saying we? There are several survivors in my family, all victims of the same perpetrator and perhaps others. Up until the moment I claimed my survivor status, it felt like we are all inexplicably linked and even in my own mind, there was not emotional distance between several of us to even tell the difference. And in the perpetrator’s mind, we were all versions of the same victim, even though we were different ages, different genders, and different people. We didn’t matter enough to him to be different. All that really mattered to him was himself.
Originally published in 2008