It didn’t occur to me until my feet were 5 yards from the door.
Oh, shit. This is where it happened.
The thing, the very quick, insignificant by comparison to other stories I’ve heard of sexual abuse, but still a horrible thing – it happened in this building. The reason I have difficulties sometimes being intimate with my husband – it happened here. The event that made me question if all males are ever just being nice to you because they want to put their hand up your skirt – that was where I stood. The awful violation that also causes me to distrust some females because it was a female who assured me that it was ok … took place in this room. The thing I still have nightmares about, that I told my mom about and she didn’t do anything about it or almost didn’t believe me … this was the place. The inspiration for ME as a mother to grab my little girl by the wrists and look deeply into her eyes and make sure that she KNOWS that no one except me or a doctor is allowed to touch her – and only under certain circumstances – when she was so young I’m not even sure she understood, but she definitely heard – yes, yes. The thing that moved all those mountains – or built them into different places than they would have been if it had not happened – but it happened here.
I looked around and gave the walls and floor no power or blame. Brick and mortar were not the perpetrators.
And, here’s something I want you to know. The person who did sexually abuse me was a child himself. We weren’t being watched closely, and he had a grooming and violation pattern down to perfection. He recruited a little girl to tell other little girls that it was ok, and at least one believed her. No one had ever expressed to me that my body was for me, and no one should or could convince me to do something with it that I didn’t want. Instinctively, as it was happening, I knew that something was off, because it was being hidden, and I only remember it happening once, but that was enough to affect me for a lifetime.
As I looked around the space as an adult, I cannot imagine going through more or being abused by someone I had previously trusted and relied upon, or any one of a number of horrifying possibilities. I simply know that it happened to me in this room, and there is nothing that I would not do, give, or sacrifice to make sure that it never happens to my kids, or yours. There’s not a lot we can do to ensure this, we can’t be with them 24 hours a day, but we can and MUST talk to them. Explain bodily autonomy to them, that they are not to allow anyone to touch them and that they are not to touch other children, even if someone tells them to. Don’t let anyone convince them that they want something they don’t.
I’m glad I walked back into that room. It reminded me that sometimes, strength comes from the places you would least expect.