Letter: You should never feel ashamed

Letter: You should never feel ashamed

April 15
23:55 2015

Shame, fear, guilt, anger, confusion, sadness. These are all things that I felt, and continue to feel today, after I was sexually assaulted at the age of 9. I am currently a UNT student that is graduating in May. I am very involved on campus and pride myself in my ability to get along with others. Despite my extroverted persona, I have to constantly struggle with the invisible baggage I carry, the shame that is my own.

When I was 9 years old, my uncle sexually assaulted me. I was scared and confused. I did not fully understand what was happening. This was my uncle. I loved him and thought he loved me. Is this his way of showing love? Is this normal? Why does it feel so bad? Why do I feel that I will get in trouble if I tell anyone? I told no one. It became my burden to bear.

As I began to get older, I was able to process more of what happened, yet I remained silent. Would anyone believe me? Did anything even happen? Was my imagination running wild? The self-doubt and guilt spread through my body like a cancer. It consumed me. It haunted me. It destroyed me.

I was 16 years old. I knew exactly what had happened to me, yet I remained quiet. I still had to see him at family events. I still had to answer the phone when he called. I still had to act as though nothing had happened.

At 18 years old, I went off to college. I stopped talking to my family. I stopped going to family events. In my mind, I was getting rid of this sickness that had plagued me for so long.  My family put this man in my life. They were as much to blame as anyone else. They enabled this terrible thing to happen to me. Wouldn’t I be better off without them? For two years, I did not speak with anyone from my family. I was still unhappy and still consumed by guilt.

I was 20 years old. I got a phone call late at night from my father. My uncle was dead. This man who had caused me so much pain, so much anguish, was no longer living. I was still unhappy.

I went to his funeral and listened to everyone talk about how great of a man he was, how he cared so much about his family. I let them talk. I still said nothing. I still felt ashamed.

After we buried him, I told my mother and father what had happened back when I was 9 years old. With tears flowing from their eyes, they felt ashamed. They felt guilty.

Words cannot describe the sense of relief one feels when they are finally able to tell someone that they were assaulted. I now realize how foolish it was to keep it in for so long.

If you were the victim of sexual assault, it is not your fault. You should never feel guilty. You should never feel ashamed. Just get help. Once you do that, you can finally begin to move on. If you have experienced something in your life that haunts you, take control of your life and tell someone. We all need a helping hand at some point in our lives.

The author of this letter is a UNT senior graduating in May. His identity has been confirmed by the UNT Dean of Students and he has chosen to remain anonymous.

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