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I was abused at a young age by my older brother. He would get me to do things with him and told me I wasn't allowed to tell anyone or I would be in trouble. I felt in the pit of my stomach at 8 years old that this was not right. The abuse went on for years until he brought a friend over one night and they both abused me. I knew in that moment I needed help. I told my mother- she told me she would deal with it, to not speak about this with anyone, and that what happens in the home stayed in the home.

My bio dad passed when I was young and my "mother" kept me from my dad's side of the family so I had no one else to talk to. My teenage years I was acting out. I started smoking when I was 12 years old, I turned to drugs and alcohol, I started giving my body to anyone because I never wanted to feel the feelings of being forced ever again.

I dated older men thinking they would protect me. I was getting into fights and got arrested because of the anger I had. I self-harmed and tried taking my life many times. My "mother" put me into counselling because I was out of control but I never spoke up. I was afraid that no one would believe me, or that I would be ruining the family.

I was assaulted again at the age of 14 while I was babysitting for someone. I took him to court and his lawyer basically blamed me for the clothing I was wearing. If people didn't believe me about this how could they believe me about my childhood? I left home at the age of 16. My stepdad was a wonderful man and one night years after I moved out he asked me, "why did you leave? What did I do wrong?" And I spoke up. I said my truth.

A month later he died. I felt like I was being punished for speaking up about my assault, that my mom told me to never speak of it. Now I did so someone had to leave because of it. It took me another 3 years before speaking up to my mother and my abuser. I confronted them both. I tried continuing a relationship with my "mother" but she kept blaming me for her mental health and that what I told her I shouldn't have. She was not capable of being there for me.

My other two siblings know and they don't talk to me either. I have lost "my family" because I was abused. I didn't start my healing journey until 2 years ago, and it comes in waves. I have had to forgive my inner child and "teenager me" and now "adult me." I am grieving the mother I never had, and the dads I have lost, but I'm a survivor and I won't stop shining my light.

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