I read something today on The Moments We Stand that shot straight to my core, “The darkness of the world has left many of us stuck. We have buried its secrets within us, and we are afraid to let them free.” For three years I carried deep dark secrets. Secrets that ate at me every day. Secrets that made me question every single part of my being. Then one day like a miracle my mom asked me one question that made all of those feelings and secrets rush out of me like a volcano. She asked “Lori, has your dad touched you inappropriately?”.
I remember that day like it was yesterday only it was 15 years ago. We were driving alone in the car. As soon as those words left her mouth I felt the volcano build from my core and head straight up to my mouth. I no longer had to carry those terrible secrets. I started to hesitate in my answer with tears welling up in my eyes, so at the red light she turned to me and said “You can tell me anything. Your not in trouble!”. I couldn’t hold back any more. I told her everything I could remember of the past 3 years of pain that man had put me through. When I was done I asked her how she knew. She said she had overheard me the night before yell “NO! GET OUT OF MY ROOM! LEAVE ME ALONE!” as soon as he returned to his room (they were separated and sleeping in two different rooms until he found a place live) she asked him why I was yelling and he told her some of what he had been doing.
Just like that all those secrets and the burden I was caring were gone. My mom didn’t stop at our planned destinations that day, instead she drove straight to the county court house to file claims against him for what he was doing to me. She also filed for a divorce.
My mom never once questioned the things I said. She held my hand each time I had to recount what happened to the police, district attorneys, and child welfare people. She walked the long journey ahead by my side.
He never told me to keep it a secret. Somehow there was this unsaid threat that I felt. I truly lived each day waiting for someone to approach me, to ask me what he was doing to me. I prayed each day that the moment would come that I could share my secrets. I wore a happy mask over all of the uneasy, scared, helpless feelings I had. I never knew when he would try to attack me but I thought he would leave my younger siblings alone if I didn’t say anything to my mom. I thought I would “cause” my parents to divorce and split up our family if I said something. I was alone with my secret and feelings.
That sunny morning 15 years ago I finally shared all of the secrets that had been eating at me for three whole years. The secret that my biological father had been molesting me. (This abuse happened from when I was 10 to 13.)
This wasn’t the only time I would be granted a miracle in sharing a big secret. About a year after my parents divorced my mom began dating a man. He seemed friendly, charismatic, and was nice to us kids. We would soon realize that he was just a wolf in sheep’s clothing looking for his next prey. He raped me countless times over 4 months (later I found out he raped my mom and countless other girls and their moms in our area, along with many other crimes including theft).
I had became very ill and my mom was tired of me staying home sick numerous days each week. She finally had enough so she loaded me up to take me to the ER, he insisted on coming with us. As normal procedure they needed a urine sample. When the nurse led me to the restroom to get a sample she came into the restroom behind me and said “Sweety is there any chance you could be pregnant?”. I froze, could this lady know my secret just from looking at me? I stared into the mirror at myself only all I saw was a ghost staring back and small voice in my head screaming “this is your chance Lori, take it!”. I took a deep breath and replied “Yes”. Not because I thought I was pregnant but because somehow I knew this was a way for me to share my secret and hopefully stop the abuse.
We left that night with no answers as to why I was so sick. The next day my mom got a call at work from the hospital. They told her that when they ran my urine sample they noticed my white blood count was really high, they believed I was sexually active and possibly pregnant. However the urine test was inconclusive so I needed to have a blood test done. My mom hung up, immediately called me at home and said “The hospital just told me your sexually active…did he do something to you?”. And just like that I was taken back to that moment, volcano building, tears flowing. I cried and told her yes he had been hurting me. She asked if he was there at the house with me, when I explained that he had left for the day she told me to pack us all an overnight bag and she was coming to get my and my siblings right then. She drove us all to my grandma’s house where we met the police so I could tell them everything that had happened.
I was 14 and under normal hospital procedure they wouldn’t have told my mom that they thought I was pregnant but I truly believe I had an angel that day. That nurse was my angel. She didn’t know the secrets I carried but she was sent there that day to ask me that question and to violate procedure by calling my mom. That nurse will never know the extend of what she did for me that day. She will never know that she saved me from more torture. She will never know she gave me back my life in that one question and phone call. She will never know that she gave me the release to share my dark secrets. The secrets that I was raped.
Over the years I’ve gone through times when I’ve felt comfortable and safe to share my life’s secrets with others. I know that in sharing my story it is healing for me, plus it may help others. But there have been times when I can’t talk about any of it, the pain is just too much, and I hate that I have to live each day knowing those things happened to me. What always brings me through is knowing I am a survivor. I am free; free to live, free of abuse, free to be me, free to be happy.
If you are carrying secrets, I hope that you find a way to share them with someone. To lean on someone you trust to share those feelings you have about those secrets. You don’t have to carry any secrets alone! You can be freed of the secrets.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I am trying to spread awareness and get people talking about this topic. We can all make a difference by educating ourselves! Find more information and helpful links my post HERE from last week!