I was 11 years old, in middle school health class. The lesson that day was Sexual Abuse. While other kids were giggling at the words and pictures, the knot in my stomach just kept getting tighter.
I ran into the hallway crying. The teacher knelt down and asked, “What’s wrong? Whatever it is Kaitlyn, don’t be afraid to tell me. I promise you that you will be safe, whatever it is.” I was afraid…utterly terrified. Safe? I didn’t feel one bit safe. She stood there, with tear filled eyes as the secrets fell out of me, onto her shoulders.
Over the next year, I would have to answer the question “What happened?” countless times. From police officers, prosecutors, counselors, doctors and family. Over and over again, I had to relive and reiterate those moments. “What happened?” seems like an easy question to answer. In reality, it wasn’t. Remembering was a challenge. Later in life, during my time in therapy, I learned that suppressing these memories is your brains way of protecting itself. To this day, I don’t remember much of my childhood.
It started when I was 7. He would later say that I brought it upon myself…. for “wearing a tweety bird night gown and seducing him”. As the years past, the degree of abuse escalated. During the last instance of abuse, he decided to take it “all the way.” I screamed, I cried, I begged him to stop. It worked, he stopped. Or so I thought… He had left the room, only to return a few minutes later with a bottle in his hand (lubricant) and a towel. It was hard for him to keep his hand over my mouth and try to force himself inside me. So finally, he gave up. He used the towel to clean up the blood before sneaking up the stairs and into the bedroom he shared with my mother.
From the moment the confessions of abuse left my lips, my father supported me 100%. Almost immediately, my step-father convinced my mother that I was lying. She, with the help of my entire maternal side, formed an alliance with my step-father and backed him fully. Yes, the man who stole my innocence had convinced my mother and family, my own blood, that I was just a confused little girl looking for attention. Not only was I reliving what happened on a daily basis, my own mother, my own family thought I was a liar and they stood with the man who had abused me.
He agreed to take a lie detector.
I remember thinking, “Yes! Finally this nightmare will be over, the truth will come out and I’ll have my family back!”… I remember my step mother coming into the kitchen and telling me that he had PASSED the lie detector test and because he had passed, the prosecuting attorney dropped the case. All those years he told me over and over again, “you’ll break up the family,” “no one will believe you”… he was right. I felt like a failure. I felt like the liar that so many people accused me of being. I started questioning myself. Did I make this up? Was I a liar? I was the victim, yet I questioned myself every day. My dad never doubted me. He knew I was telling the truth and over the next 7 months, he spent his time and money, fighting to get the case reopened. Fighting for me. He put me in counseling, he hired an attorney. He drained his resources, and himself.
In October 2002, Ron was caught having an affair. At that time, my mother asked him again if he had done what I said he did. He replied “well, not all of it…” he then confessed and turned himself into the police. That night, my mother showed up on my door step, with an apology and an astonishing amount of remorse. At that exact moment in time, I felt validated, I felt like I had won. I got what I wanted, I got my family back.
I accepted her apology. I accepted my entire family’s apology. I forgave them. It took years of repair. Now, we are extremely close and maintain a solid relationship built on love, respect and trust.
In 2002, Ron was convicted of 1st Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct. I spent the next 5 years venting my rage towards the world. I ran away at 13, got raped at gun point. I dropped out of high school and found myself in two back to back abusive relationships. It wasn’t until age 17, that I began to take charge of my life. I got my GED, went to college, found a career and bought a house. My PTSD still haunted me and I struggled in relationships with men. When I was 20, I found an inner strength I never knew existed. I ended my 4 year relationship with my abusive fiancé, one month before our wedding. I spent the next few years sifting through myself to find and grow the confidence that had been stomped out of me for so long. Ron paroled in December 2011.
A little over a year ago, he moved into my neighborhood. How? Legally, he was allowed to live right next door to me, if he so chose. F’ed up right? Well, I decided that I would do something about it. I learned that his house was located behind a school. I reported it immediately. He was arrested and within hours, bonded out. He continued to live behind that school and a lengthy legal battle ensued.
He had violated the Michigan SEX OFFENDERS REGISTRATION ACT Act 295 of 1994, prohibiting sex offenders to live within 1,000 feet of a school. He had a direct view of the playground. Why was he allowed to live there for a year after he was arrested for doing so? He fought the case under the basis that the law wasn’t clear enough, therefore making it unconstitutional.
A few months ago, the state won. He was given a whole 90 days to move and just simple probation.
His 90 days expired, he changed his address on the registry. Yet, the same cars still occupy the
address in which he is no longer supposed to be living. I reported it and was told that there is “no way to prove he still lives there”. He even had the balls to park on the corner by my house and just sit and stare. When I reported it, I was told “that because it is a public road, there’s nothing they can do.”
My personal protection order requests were turned down, because “he didn’t pose an emanate threat.” After some break-ins and peeping tom incidents, I decided that since the court system wouldn’t, I needed to protect myself. So I got a concealed carry permit with a gun to match.
I will always carry the scars of my abuse, but I will not be defined by them. I look back at those times and I am reminded of the strength I carry within myself. I have a tattoo; a semicolon. It’s a daily reminder that even on days when I am struggling with anxiety or depression or with the effects of PTSD, it’s not the end of my story.
Today at age 26, I find myself in a healthy relationship with the man I plan to spend the rest of my life with. I am surrounded by supportive, appreciative, loving friends and family. I find happiness in my career and volunteer work centered on children. I consider my experience much like a fairytale. I suffered through many dark days, but like the faithful morning sun, I rose to cast out the darkness with light. And the most amazing part is that my story isn’t over, and neither is yours.
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