Student submission: “The irony didn’t dawn on me back then.”

 SASV supports survivors of all forms of sexual violence. The following is a submission from a rising junior at JMU. We aim to create a campus climate where sexual assault is NEVER tolerated, and one of the many reasons this is important is to avoid revictimizing individuals who have previously endured abuse. Please be advised that this blog post contains content about sexual violence within the family and of minors.


How strange it is.

When you grew up with your abuser. When you considered them one of your best friends for years. When you shared so many precious memories and holidays with them.

When they are your family.

When you remember what they did, but it doesn’t feel like them.

That was a different him.

That was a different time and we were kids and he probably doesn’t even remember it and he’s so nice now and I’m sure he feels bad for doing that.

I should just pretend it didn’t happen.

But then it hits me one day. I can’t stop thinking about it. 10 years of repression comes to a stomach turning end as the flashbacks start flooding in.

That was the same person touching me as the brother holding me while I cried over some boy at 15. The same person taking advantage of 8 year old me. But I thought he was my friend. I thought he was supposed to take care of me.

I’ve somehow made the connection. I no longer see my brother as a friend. How have I allowed myself to laugh for years with someone who assaulted me? How could I possibly have found comfort in a person who ruined me so? I almost miss when I could repress these memories, I wish I could just pretend it didn’t happen

And here comes self blame, of course. I should have said no and should have known better. It’s amazing what we expect from children who are victims. I, at 8 years old, should have known better than a teenager. They were just hormonal. They didn’t know it was wrong. I should have stopped it. I should have told someone. How hard it is to have sympathy for myself when I just wish I had known better.

Memories are now tainted.

I listen to my favorite artist and think back on her concert I went to. The one where I started crying as soon as she belted out her first note.

But now I can only focus on the fact he was next to me. The person who took advantage of my body was standing next to me.

I remember visiting him at college when I was a sophomore in high school. We went out to parties. He always made sure I was safe.

The man who made me unsafe, protecting me from men who might want to do the same thing he did.

The irony didn’t dawn on me back then.

How can you forgive someone for ruining your favorite memories? How can you forgive someone for betraying you so intensely?

I’m not sure if he deserves forgiveness. But if anyone has any advice on spending Christmas with the person who took away your childhood innocence, I’d love to hear it.