I was three when my abuser took me behind his house and hurt me the first time. I still remember the denim skirt I was wearing. I don’t remember much between that incident and the next incident when I was eleven, when he began to abuse me on a regular basis several times a week. When I was twelve, I prayed that God would give me strength to survive the abuse so that I could help even one person who was going through what I was experiencing. I felt like I had no one to talk to and I lived in a constant state of both physical and emotional pain.
When I was 15, I began working with a vocal coach at school. He thought I was talented and invited me to sing with the honor choir – I was the youngest person to ever have the opportunity to do that. I remember looking at the bulletin board at the high school and it dawned on me that if I could keep myself really busy with school activities, I wouldn’t have any time for my abuser to pick me up from school – I could catch a ride home with a friend after activities. So, I filled up my time with rehearsals, clubs, plays, and volunteered to help my vocal coach at the high school. I filed music and kept the office organized.
When I was 17, my abuser began pursuing me more aggressively. An incident late one night at my parent’s home while my parents were away on vacation left me terrified. One day after school, I finally broke down and told my high school vocal coach what was happening. To my surprise, he believed me. Just the simple act of him believing me was enough to literally change my life forever. In that one moment, what I had to say was important and carried weight, a feeling I had never felt before. Shortly after that, my abuser hurt me pretty badly and I had to go the emergency room. I began staying with friends from school so he couldn’t find me. My parents were traveling a lot so it was scary to stay at home, where I knew he could find me at any hour of the night.
I moved away the day after high school graduation. My high school vocal coach had encouraged me to go to college and helped me audition and get into a good school. I lived literally numb to almost any emotion. I wanted to cry all the time, but that wasn’t allowed. My abuser had told me that by trying to smile and act normal, I would go to hell. It was awful and I felt so confused and worthless. I talked with therapists in college and they told me that I was very fortunate – they had never heard of someone who went through what I did and didn’t go crazy. One even tape recorded our sessions to use for research.
The good news is that because my high school coach encouraged and supported me, and believed me when I told him about my abuse, it changed my life forever. Over the years, and with the help of therapy and supportive friends and family, I have come to terms with my story. It’s a difficult story to tell, and probably difficult to hear. I grew up and moved away from where I went to high school, but the foundation my high school vocal coach gave me that day provided a life long foundation for me to build a life of peace, boundaries, compassion, and self-worth. I’ll never forget what he did for me – he literally put me back on the path to find the real me… the person that three year old never had the chance to become.
I still live with what my abuser did to me. It effects the way I think, feel, and process the world around me. Most people would be surprised to know that I’m a victim of abuse. I’m married with children, a successful business person, and am a very happy, blessed person. I am these things through the grace of God and in spite of my abuser’s best efforts to break me.
I still see my high school vocal coach from time to time and I hope one day I can do something great for someone else the way he did for me.