Note: This is a real experience shared from a survivor of abuse. Names and identifying information have been changed.
I don’t remember exactly how old I was when the abuse started happening. My brother, who is about nine years older than me, began molesting me. Sometimes the abuse happened during the day when my parents were gone and he was babysitting. One time he had his radio on—I still remember the song that was playing. I hate that song.
When I turned eight years old, my dad was supposed to baptize me. It turned out that he couldn’t be there on the scheduled date and my mom didn’t want to reschedule my baptism, so she suggested that my brother baptize me. I didn’t know what to say, so I let him. Afterward, I questioned my baptism for a long time.
My other abuser was my cousin. He started abusing me when his family came to visit us for two weeks. I was seven or eight years old. I hated it all.
About two years later, my cousin’s family moved closer to my family. We would visit them for weekends, and during the summer we would stay for weeks at a time. The abuse continued. He would always try to get me alone. I felt disgusting and dirty and powerless.
At age 12 I talked with my bishop about getting a temple recommend to do baptisms for the dead. When my bishop asked one of the recommend interview questions, I started crying. He knew what that meant. All he said was, “Who?” I only reported my cousin. My brother was about to come home from his mission, so I didn’t say anything about him. I struggled with that decision for most of my life.
I began drinking alcohol in eighth or ninth grade. I had boyfriends that I would do sexual things with. I had an “I don’t care” attitude and did whatever was asked of me. After high school I ended up moving in with my boyfriend for about a year until we broke up.
A good friend helped me think about what I wanted to do with my life. I started going to church again and getting my life back on track. Eventually I married an amazing man. When we had been married for 13 years, I told him about the abuse. He just took me into his arms and held me. He helped get me into counseling, and then I started attending group therapy. I felt depressed for months after telling my husband about the abuse, but after participating in individual and group counseling, I have been doing so much better.
I have experienced many effects from the abuse. I am a very protective mother. I don’t trust people easily. I have a hard time making decisions by myself.
In some ways I have used what I have learned to become a better parent. My husband and I teach our children about appropriate touching. We have an open-door policy and tell our children they can talk to us about anything.
I still have bad days, but I have learned to take things one day at a time. The bad days occur less frequently now. I have hope for the future.
If you or someone you know has been abused, seek help immediately from civil authorities, child protective services, or adult protective services. You may also seek help from a victim advocate or counseling or medical professional. These services can help protect you and prevent further abuse. See the “In Crisis” page for more information.