The body’s transformation during pregnancy is beautiful. That is why I’m sharing this photo series that follows the development of my own pregnancy. Please forgive the horrible photo quality.
Testimony by “M”
My name is “M.”. I am 19 years old, and this is my story.
I was 5 years old the first time my cousin molested his little sister and I…I remember he called it “the kissy game”. He would tell us over and over again that it was only a game, but part of the game was that we had to keep it a secret. There were times when he would lock us in a closet if we refused to “play”…this went on for two years until I was 7 years old. I never told my parents, my friends, anyone. It was my secret and I kept it well. When I was 13 I got into what would eventually become my first serious relationship. I remember finally telling my boyfriend everything that had happened. And it wasn’t until I saw his defensive/protective reaction, that the weight of what my cousin had done actually began to set in…for all that time I had felt dirty and damaged and insecure, but I had scolded myself saying “don’t be so stupid it was only a game, get over it.”
By the time I was 17 I came to a full realization/acknowledgement that I had been raped. There was no other way to put it. It was NOT a game. It was NOT okay. And I was NOT stupid for feeling that way. To this day it still hurts to think about the things that happened, but I am learning to cope. I am learning to remind myself that I didn’t do anything wrong. I am not damaged or less of a person because of what he did to me. If anything, I am stronger.
Testimony by Lucy Kidd
This week was the two year anniversary of the last time I was sexually assaulted. This last time was the most traumatic to me for several reasons. First, It was the only one I actually shared with people in my life, second, there were witnesses, third, there was the combined trauma of the sexual assault and the victim-blaming, 4. my attacker wrote a letter of apology to my boyfriend for attacking me (but not to me, because apparently I’m just my boyfriend’s property), and 5, I had a mental breakdown afterwards and had to quit my job, and 6, because the attack happened in my own home I no longer felt safe there, and 7. I couldn’t sit through a class without having a panic attack, so I had to withdraw from all my classes, even though I was supposed to graduate that semester. With my previous attacks I was able to cope somehow, but not this last time. Not two years ago.
To someone who hasn’t been sexually assaulted, it’s hard to explain the phenomena of the “anniversary,” but I will try. For some reason, the memories come back in full force – unwelcome and all-consuming. The nightmares of being attacked returned this week as well, the uncontrollable crying, and the intense feelings of anger towards the people in my life who victim-blamed me. There are the feelings of intense shame and humiliation, and the inability to control my emotions.
There are some positive things that came out of my anniversary – it forced me to deal with the fact that I am not yet recovered, that I still have a lot of work to do. I finally had the courage this week to seek out sexual assault counseling. two years overdue but never too late. I am now able to hold down a job and a loving relationship. These are things I can be proud of.
To the Reader: your input is welcome, so long as it is not victim blaming, slut shaming, or advice on how YOU would have dealt with being attacked. If it’s not your trauma, then you have no idea.
Testimony by Anonymous
My name is A***** and it has been 11 years since that horrible night that I shall never forget. I was a freshman in High school, had just turned 13, full of excitement, anxiety, and nervousness of not going to fit in my new environment. I had always gained my sisters and parents admiration for being ahead of my peers and expecting to graduate high school at an early age. I am still proud of graduating at the age 16; I didn’t turn 17 until July of later that year. I would follow in my sister’s footsteps she was a year ahead of me. I had an almost exact replica of her freshman semester. I tried out for the cheer squad and got accepted and was happy to be doing something I liked and being able to differ from my sister. I was part of the volleyball, where my sister was co-captain of the varsity team. I was the first freshman in that private schools history to make it to the varsity squad. The coach would, pride herself in that fact but said she saw talent and dedication with me. I loved playing setter and middle blocker. At this point it felt that things could not get any better and all my fears were just fear of the unknown and entering a new environment. It was November and football season was winding down and volleyball season had come to an end, Sara one of the girls in the cheerleading squad which I had a small crush on came to invite me to party, which some of the seniors and juniors were holding.
I quickly responded with a yes and told her, I had neither car nor a ride to the party. I asked her if my sister would be able to come to the party and she said no for it was a get together and she wouldn’t fit in. I remember telling my parents that night; I was doing a sleepover with the Sara. How it was it was a cheerleading thing. They were fine with it and once I had the ok, told her I could definitely go and she would give me the ride to the party. Arriving the party still in my uniform along with Sara, was giving two shots and I made my whole never had drank before but I drank them. They served us something called Jungle punch, which tasted like just alcohol they used everclear, rum, Kool-Aid and apple juice. All what I remember was being in the dining table laughing playing some dumb card game. I had come to blackout at the party and I had absolute idea what would occur.
In regaining my senses and soon after wards realize what was happening around me. I awoke in a hot, dim lighted garage on a cheap table naked. Degrading words written on me, I tried to release my hands and Sara just held me down even more. I began to kick my legs shouting screaming telling them to stop, to leave me alone. I was crying so much, as our teams linebacker said “It’s my turn with this slut, can’t you tell she begging for this nigger cock”. I know I was mostly murmuring at this point telling him to please not to do it and trying to kick him away. I will never forget it, feeling that pain as his cock entered me, making me feel even more dirty used and worthless. I just cried, as I had this large guy on top of me and feeling so exposed, so dirty, worthless. What hurt the most was when they forced themselves into my ass. My body felt so weak, so powerless, I don’t remember much after they forced themselves on me from behind. I tried to block out as much as I could, I felt so helpless.
I was left on my parents porch naked, had been fingered on my way home. A note saying thank you for the cheap whore, 20 dollars left with it. My mom just stood there and cried, my dad did absolutely nothing, as their car left. My sister would take me inside, help me shower cuddle with me and be that person who, I needed at that moment. Nothing would come to happen, as for in the small city that it occurred, having parents that protected them, it was just swept under the rug. I still have a hard time about this and my self-confidence at times can take a turn for the worse but I keep on swimming.
Testimony by Vennie Kocsis
My abuse story is not “typical”, although who is to say that any abuse is typical. My story is a bit different because I am a survivor of ritualistic cult abuse. I share my experiences openly with the intent of connecting with others who have been abused. It’s important to me that we come to know there is healing and survival after the suffering.
In 1973, my mother took me and my siblings, left our father and our family home in San Diego, CA and drove across the country to Ware, Massachusetts where she joined a religious cult called The Move. I was three years old.
While at this facility my family was separated from one another and each placed into different classification units on the compound. The next four years of my childhood became a nightmare filled with ritual beating sessions, sessions involving casting out of “demons”, molestation by multiple men, slave labor working on the compound from dawn till dusk, methodical listening to hours of tapes of preaching, and an overall hopeless existence of disassociation as my body and soul tried to cope with what was being done to it.
When I was seven, for reasons not completely clear at this time, the leaders of the cult decided to shut down the Massachusetts division. They re-located many of us to another division of their cult in Delta Junction, Alaska. My family was re-united, but life would never be the same for us. The damage had already been done. In Alaska we were trained to prepare to die for “christ”, that the “communists” would eventually come to america to ask us if we believed in jesus, and would subsequently shoot us if we answered yes. We were trained to be martyrs for their religion. We were taught to shoot rifles and survive in the deep woods since we would eventually need to hide there. The list of offenses against children continued in Alaska with molestation, severe beatings and extreme labor. When I was thirteen my sister suffered an incident which caused the cult leaders to banish us from the compound. Her suffering turned out to be our savior.
Life back in the “real world” proved to be an extremely difficult adjustment. We had to learn simple things that other teenagers found natural, like how to shop in stores, learning current trending music and television, something my siblings and I had never learned to do. We struggled with understanding having social skills and many other life skills which caused integrating into a “normal” society quite painful. We hid our shortcomings as much as we could, to avoid being laughed at and criticized by our peers.
I am currently writing a novel recounting in detail my life growing up in this cult. It’s been a little over five years in the making. The details of my experiences are not easy to write out. It takes quite a lot of soothing and damage control to get through recalling many of these experiences. I feel much strength to be where I am at this point in my life. Many of the other children abused by this cult have grown up to be adults with severe substance abuse problems, extreme mental illness and in some cases, even suicide. Many cannot even talk about what happened to them. There is a handful of us who are able to speak to one another about our experiences, and we provide a network of support to one another as we are able. Being a survivor of ritual abuse can require a special understanding. Having connection with others who have experienced this level of abuse and survived is a worthy support. It can be difficult for the average person to wrap their minds around a story such as this.
I tell my story because I am a survivor, and I know the damage done when a child is stripped from everything which makes them pure and innocent. I care about what others have experienced and how we all can become functional and find self love after the pain.
I spent many years angry, asking why was I made to suffer so much. I wallowed in self pity and hatred, carrying bitterness and ugliness inside of me. I lashed out, got into a life of crime when I was a young adult, struggled to be a functional parent and much more. It is a very difficult road out of this pain, and many days I deal with flash memories and moments of trying to escape haunting images which can sometimes have a mind of their own, emerging uninvited to float around in my brain. It’s been a long journey of redefining habits and behaviors, ending self abuse and accepting that my past experiences do not have to define my current day to day existence. I believe that it is because of the horror I experienced in my childhood that I am able to carry immense compassion for the suffering of others.
Every time I meet someone who has survived abuse, I am inspired even more to continue telling my story. Their survival inspires me to continue on, as excruciating as it can be to re-live this trauma every time I dig in to recall it. Most of all, they inspire me to continue to Love and care for every single human who has been hurt and carries the scars of being violated.
Thank you for taking the time to read and understand my journey. I welcome open conversation, thoughts and sharing of individual experiences. I will always lend support as I am able. May we Heal.
Testimony by “Mercy May”
At fourteen years old I was introduced to a ( what I thought was dreamy ) 27 year old guy that had long beautiful blonde hair, gorgeous blue eyes, stood six foot four and was a truck driver… With little concern from my parents ( or his ) we quickly moved from sneaking around, to ” dating” , then within months I was living with him. The first time he struck my in rage, I was shocked. My mother was a violent type of woman and so I retaliated. That surprised him. It was almost two years before he did it again. This time he broke ribs ( kicking me while i was down) , dislocated my jaw with one hit square in the jaw, and walked away smiling as I laid in the floor three months pregnant with his daughter. I spent time away, at my family’s home until healed enough to return, braced for more. This child would have a mother and father in her life and I wasn’t going to take that away from her. The night I went into labor, I interrupted him and his friends. No pictures were taken after delivery, I wouldn’t allow the black eye to be seen by her when she grew up. A child raising a child, with a husband on the road wasn’t easy but she was worth every heart ache. She was almost 3 years old when he finally couldn’t handle my happiness anymore. She witnessed many many restless nights of Momma and her ice packs. More than i care to share or admit. I left again with family after he pushed me from behind while walking with her in my arms. I feel across her and she (( and I blame myself still) hit her head on doorway, causing an immediate goose egg on her forehead. He had crossed a line. I got up, soothed her, rocked her stayed up all night with her afraid to let her sleep. The next day when he walked through the kitchen door of our home, I waylaid his ass with an aluminum baseball bat in the head as hard as I could at nineteen. Seventeen stitches down the side of his head, and I smiled, told him it wouldn’t happen again and waited for his retaliation in the coming days. No police were coming to get me, he didn’t want his families name drug through the mud. Within two weeks I learned we had a son on the way. I told him then it had to stop or I was leaving for good. ( never stay thinking it will get better- just go….) My son was born in March , spring time beautiful skies, dark bags under my eyes from being the best Mommy I could be, broken inside. I went to work, putting the two in day care, I helped introduce him to his Meth dealer ( a Co worker that he became friendly with) and then shit got real. Not only was he larger and meaner than me, now he seemed invincible. Broken collar bone, near miscarriage, dislocated shoulder, bruises….they watched it all unfold every night. He starred seeing ‘Cooks’ cousin, not behind my back but in our bed, in our home, in front of my kids. My attempt to leave then was unsuccessful, I truly loved what he was when we started and just knew he would realize his faults. Third child November of following year….bounced my head off of clothes dryer at his Mithra home, and she acted like she didn’t see it. Her baby boy could do no wrong. They were the perfect Baptist family, and we weren’t allowed to speak of it. His first birthday, I incited everyone, wanted it to be special for all three Kids. Streamers confetti balloons, I went all out. After party, I merely asked for a little help cleaning up the house. Second time I went downstairs and asked, he followed. But not to help. Everyday I look in a mirror now, I see how much he loved me. He cleared the dining room table with my head. I wear a partial, that’s why I cover my mouth when I smile or chew food. He took eight of my upper teeth at 24 years old. When I regained consciousness, my daughter ( five years old) was trying to put my bloody broken teeth back in my mouth. She was crying harder than anyone I have every seen to this day. Her brothers hiding in their closet and he was gone. Gone for days with no call no note on fridge no money on table and no car in driveway. I can tolerate pain now, like no other five foot woman should. I can tell you that the children will never see him hurt me again. I can tell you it wont stop till you leave. But I can’t tell you what its like to watch them grow up. After I left him, his family fought me for custody. And since 2007 have been in his family’s care, 278 miles away from me. Our divorce was finalized and I have no love in my heart left towards him. He beat the love from me, stripped me of my self dignity and has stolen their innocence from them . I can tell you, kids do remember. She told him last month she hated him. I feared he hit her. She hugged me, said Momma I will run, run away so far he wont ever find me. He still haunts my dreams. But I can’t feel what he does anymore. And it all could have been prevented if I had left the first time he backhanded me.. My kids were worth every scar every broken bone and every tear.
Feel free to shake your head at this point, I do every time I look in mirror
Moral of my lengthy story, ” Run run rabbit run away far far away, the first time.”
Much love tonight from Longview Texas.
Mercy May ( forgive but Momma doesn’t )
I pray someone, just one person, who needs to actually reads this and I pray you listen.