As I was being driven back to the airport last April after one of my many spring events the director of the agency asked me if it is hard after I am done giving the speech. When I am no longer standing in front of an audience and I am alone. Does bringing it all back to the surface again haunt me all over. I explained to her it does not. I honestly would not do this for a living if every time I spoke afterwords I would be haunted by it. Unfortunately the past still has its ways of showing itself to me. In times not on a stage but alone at night. Reminding me these memories will always be there. I am at complete peace with my cousin and got the closure I needed from him many years ago. I was around him many times this summer and besides the silence between us I am not haunted by his presence. I honestly only wish the best for his life and can only hope my work as an activist doesn’t interfere with his current life.
It is a different story when it comes to a chapter at a much younger time in my life. A man who unlike my cousin never owned up to what he did or apologized. A man I forgave in my heart on my own because I could not let that hatred and bitterness consume me. It isn’t healthy. A man who found pleasure and joy in some of the worst days of my life. I cannot wrap my mind around the idea of what would bring a man to rape a little girl. The only answer I can come to is the devil. A man who laughed and smiled looking down at me in terror as I screamed and cried pleading with him to get off me.
There has been only two times in my life I thought I was going to die. When I was 22 yrs old and had a grand mal seizure while driving and when I was weeks away from my 7th birthday as this grown man lay on top of me, covering my mouth with his sweaty hand feeling like I couldn’t breath, followed by this piercing pain. A pain that had me sobbing. My tears didn’t stop him as he continued. I remember grabbing the bedsheets and squeezing them. I remember wishing he had used his tongue like he had done before. That didn’t hurt it just felt strange. I’ve never told anyone this due to how people might take it but I don’t care anymore, It makes complete sense though why I would of wished for that over what he did. I just wanted it to end and was begging him to stop.
No matter how I describe that entire event that took place that day no words will ever compare to the pain and fear that consumed me. Then the shame when I finally was set free and made it out of that house of terror to discover my underwear filled with blood and after throwing them away in the garage garbage bag. I was afraid if someone found out I would be in so much trouble. Like I did something wrong. I cried my little heart out in my bedroom closet. Little did I know my days with this monster were far from over.
One reason I had a difficult time coming forward and keeping it a secret for 16 years is because I continued to go back time and again to this house where I endured so much horror. Horror that doesn’t haunt me when I stand on a stage but sneaks up on me when I least expect it mostly when I am alone at night keeping me up much later then I should be. The memories will always be there and I accepted that a long time ago. I just need to find the answer to get out of that room of horror. Never to be taken there in my mind again.
It is that horror I endured why I am so passionate about passing Erin’s Law nationally. I don’t want any child to hold the memories I carry. I know what it does to a child and the life long journey of healing it takes one on. I have fueled my pain into a passion to protect the kids to not keep the secrets my abusers threatened me with. I could have been saved a lot sooner through my very own voice if someone had just been educating me to not keep these secrets. Instead I heard the words
“I will come get you, I know where you live, no one will believe you, this is our secret, you will destroy our family, you have no proof.”
I currently pay all my trips to testify out of pocket and have been since I began this crusade 3 years ago. I head to testify in Pennsylvania at the capital Sept 19th. I will be there from 18-20th due to a press conference and all day at the capital. I am flying to Maryland and driving a rental car the hour and a half to the capital. The trip itself will be over $1000 dollars. I don’t let money stop me in this mission. I remind myself what I went through and if I had millions I would spend it to protect children from ever enduring the horror I experience. Donations can be made directly here
“Screams only I can hear, a face only I can see, pain only I can feel, tears only I can taste, a day only I will never forget”