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When I was 3 years old I was put into foster care due to circumstances that were obviously out of control. My biological parents were both alcoholics and heavily addicted to drugs. I remember, even now, watching my dad hit my mom and then turn to my and my brother and sister and hit us. Eventually we were put into the system and my life of foster care started.

In the first home I was placed in, I had older brothers who were either biologically the foster parents or foster children like me. In no time at all I was being touched in ways that a 3-year-old knows she doesn't want to be touched. I was told by all these men that it was okay, and that I would "grow to like it."

I would complain to my caseworker and she would take me out of one home and throw me into another. Every home I was placed in seemed to have "the older brother." By the time I was six, I had been molested by each of these men. But finally, someone believed me. In the last foster care home I was placed in, among other forms of abuse, the oldest brother would unlock my door, come in at night, take off my pajamas and touch me. He would try to force himself on me. I would lay there as still as possible and wait for it to be over. Eventually, the foster parents decided I was too much of a "problem child" to continue raising and threw me back at my caseworker.

The next home I went into would grow to be my adoptive home. I told my foster mom (now my mother) about the abuse that had happened in previous homes and she immediately called the authorities. I had to go to a child's court and testify against the man that had done these things to me. I will never forget the awkwardness and confusion this situation brought me. I remember being terrified because of the new home I had been placed into also had brothers. But they never touched me. Not once. And my faith in people began to be restored.

The man that put me through the worst time of my life served jail time because I testified. And to this day I still have issues and problems when it comes to intimacy. I am now married with two precious kids of my own. My sweet husband has done his best when it comes to dealing with the issues that have stemmed from the sexual abuse I experienced as a child. I have flashbacks and night terrors to this day.

All I know now, is that there is help for those who need it and there are people willing to listen to what you have to say. As hard and embarrassing as it seems, never be afraid to tell someone if you've experienced any kind of abuse. It is serious, no matter the severity of the action.

Abuse is abuse. Assault is assault. And your voice matters and deserves to be heard.

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