I Wanted Her to Stop Blaming Herself

The first time I was abused was when I was about 8. A relative I had trusted had violated me. He didn’t threaten to hurt me or my family but had told me that nobody would believe me. And I bought it. I kept my silence until I was 18.

I had disclosed my abuse in a diary and intentionally left it around where my mom would find it later. She didn’t. Eventually I was able to disclose my abuse to people I trusted throughout the years, and every single time I did I felt a little stronger because I knew I was a survivor. But the victory was short-lived because the tears and self-loathing still came through.

At age 20, I got involved with a man who talked me down and did things I had said no to but did anyway. I never said or did anything because I thought nobody would believe me anyway. The echoes of my past continued to follow me. At age 26, I was introduced to Judo and Brazilian Jiujitsu. I didn’t enjoy it at first because having random people hold you down and roll around the mats made me uncomfortable. Eventually I had made a good handful of friends that made me feel at ease and I was able to enjoy the sport without worry.

Shortly through this journey, I became a victim again. This time I was able to get away. I didn’t freeze like I did the first two times I had been abused, but I still beat myself up for not seeing the signs, whatever they were. I had hated the person on the other side of the mirror. I couldn’t even look myself in the eye. I was disgusted by myself. How did I fall victim multiple times by different people? I felt like I’d become a magnet. Do these men see something in me that makes me easy to be preyed on? I had no self-worth.

I had been following the Instagram of The Younique Foundation for a while and I’d been reading stories of fellow survivors and had always wanted to share my story, but that voice continued to echo inside my head, “Who would believe you?”

It wasn’t until a week ago when I was a part of a Women’s Self-Defense Seminar where a woman had asked a question to the hosts of the event and no one seemed to understand what she was asking. I saw her struggle to speak, saw the anguish in her face, heard the tremble in her voice. I knew what she was getting at but no one else seemed to know. Then she came out with it and said she’d been abused. And she continued on by asking what she could’ve done to prevent the events from happening. She started blaming herself.

I saw myself in her. That day was the first time I had ever told a room full of people that I, too, had been abused. They weren’t people I knew. They were mostly strangers. And the only reason I spoke out was because I wanted her to stop blaming herself and stop loathing the person on the other side of her mirror. It was not her fault, like it wasn’t mine. She became my strength.

I’ve learned that the healing process is not a one-time thing but something that’s continuous, and that I don’t have to go through this journey alone. It may have taken me close to three decades to break my silence, but I will no longer allow the ghosts of my past to haunt and define me. I define me.

-Katherina, Survivor