Dear Elaine,

Did you know that disclosure of sexual abuse is often delayed; children often avoid telling because they are either afraid of a negative reaction from their parents or of being harmed by the abuser? As such, they often delay disclosure until adulthood.

Mom, I am one of those adults.

I was sexually assaulted between the ages of 11 and 12 by one of our family members husbands. It stopped after 12 because I told my middle school guidance counselor. It didn't ruin my life, but it definitely changed the way I saw the world forever. I have an extremely hard time trusting people because as a child I trusted our family to protect me and when it didn't happen it altered my perception. I trusted that when they found out they would protect me, but that's not what happened. 
Every once in a while if I'm randomly touched unknowingly no matter who it is I jump out of my skin. I don't speak up as much as I should, I stay quiet when I should be screaming, I fear things that the average person probably doesn't even think of. I was so angry with you for dying and leaving me. I blamed you for what happened to me.

The truth of the matter is, I'm not the first, and unfortunately I won't be the last. The sad part is that it happens in families on a regular basis and little boys and little girls are told not to tell. The problem is that while the adults are thinking about the repercussions if the child tells.... the child is going through one of the biggest internal battles of their lives. I felt like things were being said about me to justify what happened to me, the whole victim shamming thing. People were told it was an accident. The assaulter told me it was an accident after every time it occurred. I was afraid of what people may think about me. I didn't want people to feel sorry for me. I didn't want to seem weak. I started blaming myself. I felt like I was supposed to protect this families image. So I lived in the shadows of this for most of my life, only having enough courage to tell my close friends. I didn't have the courage to face the people who didn't know, the courage to answer their questions. The courage to face any of the negative things that might be said about me.

As a part of the 39 million adults living in the United States who have survived child sexual abuse, I strongly believe that I have a responsibility to the more than three million American children that are victims.

I think we, the 39 million, owe our stories to these children.

Mom I wrote this to you last year, but the year of 30 was emotionally the hardest year of my life, because I had to live it without Grandpa and it took a huge toll on me. Grandpas stories and prayers helped me through a lot, and loosing him brought back all this emotion, anger, and fear I thought I was over. Sometimes you can catch me staring into space because honestly when your parents and grandparents are gone the world sometimes feels lonely, even in a room full of people. I did nothing I planned to do at 30.

But this year mom I promise you this, that 31 will be different, that from 31 and on I will live in my purpose. I promise to be courageous, to wake up every day and fight through all my fears. I know what happened to me is not your fault or mines, and I apologize for blaming you. I promise that I will tell little girls going through the same thing the truth. I promise to volunteer more with organizations helping kids going through this same battle. I promise to dedicate more of my time and energy to my purpose.

I think we could all make the world a better place somehow for the next generation if we just shared our stories, if we stopped being so hush hush about the things that happened to us.

When we share our stories we become living examples of what is possible.

#Chapter31 MaskOff

- Lauren Olivia Pruitt

Here at The Breakup Queen we pride ourselves on sharing stories of queens just like you every week! Unsure about what to write? It's simple. 

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