The courage to heal: My story
A #SurvivorStory by Bella
“P-Please don’t hurt me” I whimpered as I am slammed across the room onto my cousin’s bed. The room is dark and dingy and smells faintly of urine. I am 6 years old, young and innocent. The memory of the first time I was abused comes into my mind almost everyday.
Trauma means different things to different people. We all have different types of pain living inside of us. For me, it is the evil that was my older male cousin. He has hurt me in ways that are spoke about in hushed voices, in the quiet of the dark. Throughout the world, rape is considered a horrendous act, and yet, many white rapists still go unpunished.
I scream as he hits my head against the bed frame. All I see is darkness. I can’t fight back. He’s stronger and more powerful than my thin arms could ever be. I struggle as my arms and legs pull against the restraints he has put me in. This time, I am wearing clothes, so I’m not necessarily sure what his intentions are.
Pain spreads through my lower leg as I feel teeth bite down on the lower half of my thigh. I start to disassociate and leave the pain behind….
Some of the hardest years of my life were completely hidden to everyone around me. Hiding things from people has always been easy for me. Whether it be my emotions, thoughts, memories. Everything can be locked away and stored in a little box. For years and years I kept this pain inside. I only recently told my parents what had been happening for 6 years when I was 13. That was only 3 years ago. They were shocked.
After I turned 14, I was talking to my dad about what had happened. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I recounted a painful memory, my face bright red, burning with anger, but also sadness.
“I feel like I lost my little girl, Bella, I really do.” My dad said as he looked at me solemnly. All I can think of is how this is my fault. How I could have prevented it. But the truth is, that would never have been possible. I was young and overpowered. Shushed by the thought of more pain that would come to me, how even my family could get hurt.
One of the last times that he had ever tried to hurt me was one of the most terrifying experiences I have ever endured. I was 12, and had not yet hit puberty. Winter break had come, and my father and mother dropped me and my little sister, Kyra, off at my grandma’s house, in Napa, California. Night had fallen, my uncle who is living with my grandma, suggests that me, my sister, and my cousin should all sleep in the same bed, since my grandma had not had time to fix up the beds for me and my sister upstairs. In my head, I knew what was coming, but surely he could not do anything while everyone was there, right? I was wrong. I took my little sister, got our blankets and tried to get comfortable on the monster’s bed. I wanted to protect her by sleeping next to her. He told me no, he would sleep between us, and he forced himself through the small barrie I created. I didn’t fight him, but I was done with the pain. I felt the fire burning in my soul. I wrap my sister up in a brown fuzzy blanket. Then I roll myself into a burrito. He can’t hurt me if he can’t get through my blanket.
As I lay on the bed I feel movement behind me. I’m terrified. I feel tugging on the blanket but I won’t let go of it. Instead I stand up. My heart is racing and I’m contemplating what to do next. I have nowhere to go. He stands up as I do and pushes me back onto the bed.
“Where the fuck do you think you’re going.” He says in an aggressive voice. His pants are down and he rips off my blanket. I run into the bathroom and lock myself in. I can’t leave her, I can’t leave my sister to the mercy of that evil. I hear more voices outside, it sounds like my grandma and my other cousin. I run to see them.
“You look like you’ve seen a ghost Bella, What’s up?” My other cousin, Maddy, questions.
I look back to the bed. My cousin has wrapped himself in a blanket, pretending to be asleep.
I turn to my grandma. “Please, help me he’s trying to do something,” I whisper frantically. I need her to help me, but I don’t know how. “Grandma, I’ll just take Kyra and go upstairs okay? I need to switch beds. Right now.” She nods, not asking why. I pick up my still asleep sister and take her to our room. It has a lock on the door. We will be safe for the night. I put her in the makeshift bed I made, close the door, and pray he doesn’t find a way to open it.
The entire night, I lay awake, waiting for him to come and bring me pain again. All I hear outside the door is his threat.
“You will pay for this.” His words and all of the pain he brought still haunt me to this day. All of it changed my life forever, but the road to healing is in sight. Recovery, hopefully, is still an option for me. I am not damaged, I am a survivor.