Monday, October 1, 2018

I saw a broken little girl who was terrified and ashamed.

Today, over breakfast with my husband, I had a terrible flashback pertaining to when I was a child. My flashback was about the day when I was in the courtroom testifying against my father for the sexual abuse that he had inflicted on me for many years. Within those long flashbacks I saw a broken little girl who was terrified and ashamed of sharing with everyone this shameful thing that had happened to her. At this age, I very well knew that things weren’t going to be easy, but I wouldn’t have ever imagined that my disclosure would have been as traumatizing as it was for me. I felt as if my whole life was in slow motion and throughout the whole trial and after the trial everything was a beautiful big fog in my life. I listened to the prosecutors and the defense lawyers refer to me as the victim or the alleged victim because I no longer had a name or an identity in a courtroom. I was simply the victim and now part of the statistics for everyone. I watched how they scrutinized my testimony and twisted my words with extended hours of cross examination from my father’s lawyer... Not one family member sat on the side of the bench for me but my family was there rooting and supporting for my father because he was their hero. I also remember and felt the coldness of that courtroom and the lack of empathy for a child. I remember being called a liar or just seeking attention with my disclosure of the sexual abuse. I don’t know who in the world would seek this kind of attention, but I know from my experience that I was terrified and had no gain just losses in my life. My lawyer presented undeniable evidence about the sexual abuse based on forensics and medical investigation. Hours later I finished my testimony and no one, absolutely no one said anything to me. “You may step down said the judge.” No one said thank you for coming forward, no one said you are brave, no one said anything to make me feel better period. Maybe acknowledgement of my bravery or perhaps you did the right thing were words that I needed as a child and would have helped me heal... I stepped down from the witness chair and I regretted speaking out because I lost everything and everyone in that courtroom. Stepping out of the courtroom, I saw my family hugging my father. His lawyer shook his hand and told him “we got this Mr. Rolando.” And there I was alone and waiting outside the courtroom with a social worker by my side more alone than ever and awaiting for the fate of my destiny. A destiny that no matter what the jury and the judge decided on his life, my life was changed forever. I spent the rest of my teenage and young adult years always thinking that I destroyed my family with my disclosure. I felt guilty, ashamed and alone because even though they had wronged me, I loved my family and the pain of abandonment was greater than anything in the world. Now, as an advocate, I don’t regret coming forward with the sexual abuse. Now, I understand that I had no other choice. It was either remaining silent and to continue being sexually abused or saving myself or other family members children from suffering sexual abuse at the hands of my father. My family never believed me but they never left their children with him. They were cautious about him. And if that was the only thing that I gained to protect those children, then the sacrifice was well worth it. Because when something like sexual abuse or sexual assault comes into the open it should be taken serious, it should be an automatic alarm sign for everyone. Even if there isn’t no “proof” we should always be alert and cautious with that person.

Coming forward with the sexual abuse is the most difficult thing to do for survivors.

We think about everything before we come forward with the abuse.

The shame and the concern about being believed, the concern of being labeled and attacked by people and the terrible losses of our own families and friends.

Is it worth the pain and repercussions?

In my opinion, yes we cannot live hiding our truth, no matter what people say of us.

Do I believe that there are always losses. Yes indeed. But our peace of mind is more important than any superficial friendships or family. Those that love us will stand strong with us and those who don’t, you don’t need them in your life period.

Never betray the little girl or boy within and fight fiercely to protect them from the naysayers or the ones who will always choose to invalidate your story.

Speaking out is a very hard step to take for survivors...Support Survivors.

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness.”

Brené Brown

Thank you for reading.

Cecibel Contreras
Incest Survivors United Voices of America, Inc
It was ME Campaign, Inc

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