When Childhood Sexual Abuse Makes You Grow Up Feeling Suicidal


Editor’s Note: If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

We grow up hearing “stranger danger,” but what do we do when the danger isn’t a stranger but someone you share DNA with?

I was 7 when you first stole my autonomy, treating this body — my body — as if it were not my own, but yours.

I was 7 the first time your hands touched me, leaving their invisible marks and gaping holes and scars from the pieces you stole. And at first I didn’t understand… I didn’t understand this situation, this sensation. I was confused, but I knew I did not like this…

I was 7 the first time the thought crossed my mind that I wanted to die — a real but fleeting thought… a thought I didn’t give much thought to at the time.

I was 9 the first time I saw a sexual scene in a movie and understood. I was not entertained. I was not intrigued. I was horrified and the reality set in of what was happening.

And suddenly I was not 9. I was not young and innocent — I was a 100 years older and the more references I saw, the more the sinking dread set in that this… this was wrong

You told me this was our secret and I felt special until I realized this was not a secret I wanted to keep. This secret felt dirty, like a discarded piece of clothing. Heavy like an elephant on my chest, a weight pulling me down making me drown. Goodness, I wanted to breathe — I needed to breathe — but every time I tried, you, like water, entered my lungs and threatened to suffocate me.

And one second it’s ice cream for breakfast and the next it’s threats within an inch of my life… and theirs… and you’re a paradox of things.. And I do not even know what to think nor what believe and the confusion of it all overwhelms me.

I was 12 the first time I tried to end my own life, but I didn’t want to die. I wanted to feel real… I needed to feel real.

I wanted to escape. I needed to escape. I felt so hopeless, so powerless, so lost and felt so much pain. So much pain I needed to run away. And no, I was not being a coward. I had been strong and hung on for far too long.

I was tired.

I was 13. I was 13 when I got the courage to stop seeing you. I was 13 when I took control and finally said “no.”

I was 13 when I thought this nightmare was finally over.

I was 13 when I stuffed all memories inside of me. My brain was protecting my body. It was protecting me…

But I was 13 when those suicidal thoughts got louder… I was 13 when depression took hold of me. I was 13 when I started therapy and was confused as to why I felt this way. We were confused as to why I felt this way and why was this not getting better?

I was 14 when I visited you again… I walked into that house — your house — the house that used to be mine too.

I was 14 when those memories came flooding back… causing a panic attack… making it hard to breathe.

I was 14 when I learned this nightmare — my nightmare — was not over. The secret lived on.

I was 14 and when you were asleep in your bed while I was up dancing with the demons that play in my head, watching the memories on repeat — a personalized horror movie just for me.

I was 15 when I realized what I needed to do.

I was 15 when I realized I needed to stop you.

I was 15 when I finally did what I was afraid to. I was 15 when I broke the oath of silence you swore me to.

And I thought it was finally over, this nightmare that was you. But it turns out in protecting those you love, there are more things you must go through. And you continue to take things from me, even without trying to. My family, my dignity, my smile, my light… and the more you take, the harder it becomes to try.

And I count out all my mistakes, blaming, shaming myself, looking for where I went wrong, second guessing every word, every action, every move, trying to figure out what I did to make you do this…

Why did you do this?

And I swear if you look real close you can almost see those fingerprints, your fingerprints littered across a body that is not yours.

Breaking it, tainting it, taking with you the parts you choose and leaving behind a shattered glass with pieces never to be the same.

I don’t want to be the same. I cannot be the same.

This glass may cut me deeply, but I swear you will not defeat me. This life is not yours, this life is mine. I will reclaim the power and pieces you stole. I did not choose for this to happen. I did not decide, but I will choose what happens next. I am a phoenix and you cannot stop me from rising out of the ashes and into the light because no matter how many battles I lose, I will continue to fight and you will not win because I refuse to let this be the end.

If you or a loved one is affected by sexual abuse or assault and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Getty Images photo via Archv


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

woman sad

If the Election Anniversary Is Hard for You, You're Not Alone

Anniversaries have always been a difficult part of my PTSD experience. Traumatic memories can resurface at any time, but studies have shown that “on the anniversary of traumatic events, some people may find that they experience an increase in distressing memories of the event” (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs). For many of us living with [...]
woman walking through desert leaving footprints behind

Dear Self, Please Don't Let Your Rapist Define You

Dear self, You did it. You finally found the courage to come forward and tell the world about being raped. I know that word still leaves a sour taste in your mouth and makes your heart skip a few beats. I know that must have been so hard. I’m proud of you for taking a [...]

My Struggle With PTSD Is Like Carrying Bags of Trash Around With Me

When I left Philadelphia to move down south, I took my children and whatever we could carry in a few trash bags. Life was falling apart around us, so as a mother, I did what I felt was best for my babies at the time. In addition to those trash bags that held what was [...]
woman with black wings running through the forest

When Sexual Assault Ripped Off My Wings

Editor’s Note: If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673. You ripped off my wings. The wings that held my hopes, dreams, aspirations, morals and values — the very core of who I am. You pulled me onto [...]