Breaking Free From the Cycle of Abuse

This Survivor Story Has Verbal and Sexual Abuse Triggers

Unfortunately, like a lot of women, I was assaulted more than once by more than one perpetrator.

My earliest memory as a child was one of sexual assault. I was continuously molested between the ages of three and five or six. I am not sure of the exact time frame. This memory is hazy and I have not felt comfortable enough to ask my family members for confirmation of the timeline. My biological father was married to a less than kind woman who was aware of her son's abuse toward me but did nothing to stop it. It was only after my mother discovered what was happening, that I was no longer forced to attend weekend visitation. Thankfully, my biological father divorced his wife soon after the details of my abuse came to light.

For years, these events were absent from my memory; maybe a psychological mechanism meant to preserve my innocence during childhood. As a teen, the memories began to come back in flashes. Eventually the floodgates of my mind opened and the sickening memories flushed through me like poison.

As I prepared for a family of my own, the memories of my molestation transformed into anxiety for my own children. When my first two daughters were born, I refused to work because I could not bare the thought of letting them out of my sight. I was (and am) so afraid that my children might be put in a situation to be scarred the way I had been.

When I was 27, I spoke with a male friend I had not seen in years and we decided to meet at my home later in the week to catch up. While talking to this seemingly harmless fellow that evening in my home, he asked for a tour of the house. No alarm bells went off, no red flags were waving. I had not given this man any reason to believe the evening would end in anything less than a friendly hug. Even if this had not been the case; even if I had "led him on," it would not have warranted the events that came to follow.

I willingly showed this old friend from room to room, skipping the rooms of my children, as they were tucked tight in their beds asleep and thankfully oblivious to the terror their mother was about to encounter. As I reached the back of the house, I turned on the light switch and said "and this is my room." I immediately turned to leave but he was blocking the doorway. He forcefully kissed me and I pushed him away. In a panic, I asked what in the world he thought he was doing. He shoved me down on my bed and climbed on top of me. I said "no" over and over and felt tears well up in the corners of my eyes. I did not laugh or giggle. My voice was stern. I said and did everything I could to make him understand his advances were not welcome. But I was afraid to scream. I would have rather been raped than alerted my children to the incident and scarred their little minds with that image, if they had gotten out of bed and seen it. Through clenched teeth, I repeated, "I SAID NO." I remember being so angry. This man smirked and said, "I SAID YES." I was terrified and I prayed. It seems the Lord answered my prayers that night as this man seemed to "snap out of it" and realized the crime he was about to commit. He stopped. I told him to leave immediately. He willingly left.

While I managed to avoid being actually raped that night, I did not walk away unscathed. This event, coupled with those of my childhood, made me fear men and intimacy in general. My anxiety heightened. I became insecure and trusted no one. I was a head-strong woman on the outside, determined to do everything on her own. On the inside, I was like a frightened child, craving the protection I had never known.

At 29, another man's manipulating charms overrode my blatant weariness and distrust in people. I quickly became involved in what would turn out to be my second failed marriage. His slick smile soon was accompanied by waves of physical and emotional abuse. I attributed this to the fact that he struggled with drug addiction. I believed in the "in sickness and in health" marriage vows and felt compelled to help my sick spouse. After all, there were brief times of sobriety; or at least I thought so at the time.

At 32, I learned that once again, I had become "the other woman" to his meth pipe (and ironically, to a string of "other women"). This man had made a decision in the midst of all this that put my children in danger. As a mother, I was left with no choice but to end my marriage. I ordered him to leave our home.

The following weekend (or possibly even the weekend after that... I cannot remember),he asked that he briefly return to the house, in order for his children from a previous relationship to have a place to visit him for two days. For the sake of the children, but against my better judgement, I agreed.

I had been up most of the night that night; I was behind in my online college courses and was trying to catch up. I fell asleep early in the morning and woke up on my side, with him in bed, thrusting back and forth inside of me.

At first, I thought I was dreaming. I pretended to still be asleep for a few seconds in order to become aware of what was really happening. The man I was married to, this man I shared a child with, this man who knew of my trauma because of past sexual assaults, this man who I had ended my relationship with was having intercourse with me in my sleep. I don't remember exactly what I said but I remember pushing away from him and demanding an explanation. He had none, of course, as there is no explanation for something of that nature.

I could not admit to myself that it was an actual rape at that point. It was not until I eventually shared this story with a genuinely kind-hearted man, with whom I am now engaged to be married, that he explained to me that I was in fact raped by my husband at the time. For the longest time, I was numb and extremely confused by it. I was unable to fully process or accept what had happened at the hands of this man for quite some time.

Fortunately, my story has a happy ending. While it is apparent that I have made poor choices in the male partners I have chosen in the past, I am no longer in an unhealthy relationship or fear men in general. There are lingering affects of the sexual abuse that may never go away. I still sleep with a nightlight. (The sexual abuse I endured as a child always occurred in total darkness. The nightlight has been a necessity for me to cope and not wake up in the night feeling terror and panic.) However, I now live a life with a gentleman who is patient and protects me in a manner I could have only dreamed of in the past. I am loved. I am respected. I am protected and safe. God sent me someone who, through genuine acts of love and admiration, erased the fears and anxiety I have carried with me up until this point.

Not everyone's story of sexual assault ends this way. I am very aware of that. While the events of my past have shaped me as a woman, a partner, and a mother, they do not define me. I want all sexual abuse victims to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Choose healing. Choose happiness.

If someone in your life is witnessing or experience domestic violence, or if you are a victim yourself, don’t wait. Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at or 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).