Forgive and Forget This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

August 18, 2011
Six years ago, I stepped into a courtroom. The guilty verdict we’d all prayed for filled the room. The charge: sexual abuse of a minor. The sentence: two years of house arrest. The price my family paid to get this man behind bars: everything. My father lost his job and his wife. My mother’s boyfriend was the assailant. The thing that bothers me the most is that all he got was two years of house arrest. Want to know something worse? I was not the only one. He had a whole street of kids. Now, tell me, does he deserve his punishment? I lost my self-esteem. I can’t trust guys. I still feel trapped. I’m a walking nightmare.
What deranged person would put a five-year-old girl through this? Two years of house arrest? That’s the going rate for a lost soul, a child’s happiness, a child’s memories?

Every six minutes, a child is sexually abused. Why do parents think these children are too young to remember? They do. I do. Five years old, six years old, seven, eight, nine, ten – does it matter how old? It doesn’t slip a child’s mind. Every day these chilling memories return, affecting school, relationships and dreams. It eats away at me. I am not good enough for my expectations. The nightmares come like a song playing in my head that I want to forget, but can’t. It won’t stop, like a clock that ticks and ticks and ticks, waiting to explode. What if one day the ticking stops? What happens? All of a sudden, you’ll hear a sharp pain, like the screeching of a fingernail on a chalkboard. You are in a trance, and then you snap. One day you realize you have been stalking your molester for days. Staking out his house, leaving obscene messages on his answering machine. You feel alone in the world. Do you have the guts to take a life? Will it be his or yours?

Many sexually abused teens and adults fight this constant battle. They struggle to fit in with friends. They want to be normal, but this uncontrollable force convinces them they are not. They usually end up spewing their stories to therapists. All that it can do is help you forgive and forget. Therapists try to make you feel “special.” Why? Because some man had intimate thoughts about you?

If you are around a person who makes you feel uncomfortable sexually, this is a sign. If someone makes you touch them in an inappropriate area, this is sexual abuse. If you are forced to endure inappropriate kissing, actions, clothing or sexual conduct, it is sexual abuse!

I know the feeling of being dirty, worthless and abnormal. I would not wish these feelings on anyone. It’s like when all you want is to take a deep breath, but you can’t. The breath of fresh air will never come, just like feelings of being safe. Therapy just makes you feel better about yourself. Until you can forget you were molested, you won’t feel relief. I know. I have been there. If you don’t tell someone, anyone, you are making your life even more miserable. You are the only one who can make it stop. Help yourself. Tell someone.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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