Writing by Andy Reyes // illustrations by Nea Valdivia
I was a beautiful, curious little girl. I felt protected and safe until my childhood ended at the age of five because of a doll.
What happens to children who have been sexually abused is that our lives suddenly become very confusing and sad.
My abuser was my cousin. She was 15-years-old and my mother let me be with her all the time. I loved her very much and I trusted her, we all did.
She had all the dolls I wanted to play with, so I was not only in awe of her cool teenage essence, but she had what I wanted and she knew that.
Now as an adult, I’ve read a lot about childhood sexual abuse, so I know that she wanted me to trust her.
The moment she began abusing me, I remember looking at the doll I wanted to play with and thinking this was the price to pay to be able to play with that doll.
After the abuse, she told me that I had to keep her secret, she told me my mother would be angry. I was very afraid of my mother back then, so I thought she was protecting me and decided to keep her secret. I have been keeping her secret for more than 20 years. I have still not told my mother.
I remember one day looking into her eyes and in her gaze I saw evil. I could see she felt nothing. She did not feel the slightest bit of remorse for hurting me.
After the abuse, I started wetting the bed, I started to feel strange in my own body, and I felt my scent changed. I felt like a worthless girl, that there was something in me that made me feel insufficient. I remember seeing my younger cousins be happy and I couldn’t get myself to feel that way.
For many years I told myself that she loved me and that’s why she did what she did to me. I was growing up and I realized that she was no longer interested in me, it was not until many years later that I realized that she never loved me, she was a pedophile.
I am 28 years old now and when I think of her, I am invaded by a feeling of injustice, because I suffer this in silence.
My family still adores her. She is a mother and a teacher. When I think that she could hurt other children, my heart breaks and I’m that scared five year old girl again.
Over the last two years, I have thought a lot about what would happen if I denounced this horrible woman. If I shared with my family and authorities what happened to me at 5 years old. My mind travels to a very dark place where she is left with nothing, where she goes to prison and never leaves. After thinking this I feel bad about myself. She is now married and has a 15-year-old daughter herself.
When covid arrived and I got very close to my friends. One of them told me that her uncle had raped her at 17 and I told my friend what had happened to me. My best friend gave me the strength to get through this and talk about it without guilt.
I still cry for little Andy who was cute, curious, smiling and intelligent. I would like to hug and protect her.
A light went out inside me forever after my abuse. My heart will always be broken in some way that I cannot describe.
Yet, somehow, these last two years, little by little I have begun to heal that inner child. I have been filled with affection and patience and I now consider myself a brave person.
After this abuse I did not become a bad person, I still smile every morning, I go to work and when I feel sad I just let the feeling go and I get up again.
I am finally enjoying being a woman again in the understanding that I am a survivor.