I confronted my attacker, #MeToo

This article describes sexual assault and its aftermath. Reader discretion is advised.

The summer of 2017 was the summer of change. I learned what it meant to actually be an adult by working two part-time jobs totaling 50 hours a week, paying my own bills and actually being able to sit at the adult table during my family’s Fourth of July dinner. But most importantly, I grew as a woman.

I confronted my cousin who molested me when I was four years old.

It was scary. Fifteen years later and I finally got the courage to tell my mom and aunt about what happened in June of 2002.

My aunt made me call my cousin the same night I told her I was molested. It was terrifying, but it was also something I knew I had to do in order to move on with my life.

I’m happy I did. If I hadn’t called and asked him if he remembered what happened on his birthday, I never would have known the whole story. It went something like this:

It was my cousin’s birthday and he had just turned 16. He decided it would be a good idea to hang out with his friends, get drunk and get high all in the same night. He had never had any alcohol or drug in his body before then so the effects the drugs had on his body was pretty bad.

Somehow he ended up at my mom and aunt’s house that night, and they took him in seeing the state he was in. They sent him to bed downstairs on our living room couch. But somehow he ended up in my bed after my mom, aunt and I went to sleep.

I didn’t feel him crawl into the bed with me — and apparently neither did he since he was drunk and sleep walking — but the next thing I knew I woke up to something in my hand and him whispering in my ear.

“Grab it,” he said.

I started crying, he woke up startled and took me to my mom’s room. I couldn’t describe what had happened to my mom because I didn’t know what had happened to me.

Being around my cousin after that was extremely difficult. He would always come around me and act as if nothing had ever happened, I never understood why until June 2017.

The night I told my mom and aunt that I was molested, they were sad, angry and most of all, guilty. They were both there the night that it happened, sleeping under the same roof as my cousin and I.

I, on the other hand, had never felt more liberated in my life. Talking to the man who assaulted me helped me grow as a person and stop living in fear of men. I never thought I would forgive my cousin, but I did and I’m stronger for it.

The trauma I experienced after my assault stuck with me for a long time. I didn’t want to be touched by anyone. I became introverted, I always felt as if I was covered in dirt and I stayed on the defensive which made if very difficult to make new friends. But most of all, I remember wanting to die.

My molestation was a secret I wanted to keep to myself. I felt that if anyone else knew they would view and treat me differently than before. I wish I hadn’t kept it a secret for so long. I wish I knew about the resources I know about now.

But I know I’m not the only person who has been sexually assaulted. I am just one in a million different people. I am hoping that by sharing my knowledge of resources available to sexual assault victims, they will be able to overcome their trauma smoothly.

There are local resources Oakland University students can turn to; the Graham Health Center and School of Education and Human Services offer counseling sessions year round.

Another resource available is HAVEN of Oakland County in Pontiac. HAVEN is “Oakland County’s only comprehensive program for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault,” according to its website. HAVEN provides counseling, shelter and educational programs to almost 20,000 people a year.

If you’re not comfortable reaching out to someone in your community feel free to call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673. Representatives  are available to talk 24 hours a day.

So with that I stand by the many other women who were victims of sexual harassment, molestation or rape. Let’s join a movement that was brought back with a simple tweet by actress Alyssa Milano. Let’s stand together and let others know we are not alone.