Trigger Warning - Sexual abuse from one child to another
This is a hard story to tell. Only about two people really know the story, and even then it’s not even the whole thing. When I was around 8, I was in about 2nd grade, I had this friend who was slightly younger than me. He and I hung out together often. I was new to the area, and thought I had made a good friend. At only EIGHT years old, I went through some times with this “friend” that no eight year old should EVER EVER EVER experience. But look at me! I’m living proof, as are millions of others, that such horrid experiences can happen to and by anyone.
This “friend” of mine forced me to do something I didn’t even understand at the time. We were hanging out at his place with some friends (maybe they were his family?) around our age range, and we ended up in a bedroom somehow. Out of nowhere I’m laying on the hard floor with this so called “friend” towering over me. He told me to “Put it in your mouth.” I tried telling him "No!" I told him I didn’t want to. His buddies told me to “Just do it.” I didn’t want to. I told them "No." I said "Stop." I wasn’t sure what was happening, but it happened. In hopes it would go away, I closed my eyes. I’ve never felt my eyes close so tight before. I was so scared, but all I could hear was “Keep your eyes open or it’ll never be over.” I was eight. How was someone younger than me so powerful? I opened my eyes, and it didn’t stop. He didn’t stop after he said he would. His buddies were just sitting there, watching him force himself on me. How far was it going to go?
I wanted it to stop, but he was enjoying himself. I don’t know why or when, but somehow he managed to get to the point of trying to take my shorts off. He didn’t get far because his mom walked in and freaked out. I was so scared. I was older. He was younger. She thought I caused this. She thought I forced her son to act this way. She squeezed my hand as she ran me home. My hand stuck in one hand, and his hand stuck in her other hand. I only lived across the complex so it was a quick walk, but man did it feel like a lifetime. I was scared. I was crying. I just wanted to tell my mom what happened, but I couldn’t. I didn’t know what had just happened to me. I couldn’t put into words what was going on. His mom got to my door, and banged on it to get my parents to answer. She told them it was me. That I caused her son to do such vulgar things. She was angry with me for being raped by her son. Don’t worry, I get it. I was older. He was younger. There’s no way in hell it was all his idea. There’s no way in hell his buddies agreed to just sit there while it happened.
Sorry but I told them "No" about as many times as you told me how wrong it was that I did this to your son.
I chose to do this boudoir session as a way to “Take Back My Body” from my rapist. Missy helped me achieve that in a way I couldn’t imagine ever being possible. No, she didn’t “cure me”, but she did help me feel like there’s more to me than my past trauma.
I chose Missy for the fact that her work spoke to me. Her pictures of OTHER woman made ME feel confident.
I was nervous about everything going into this session. My body. My smile. My hair. My feet. My size. My shape, but my favorite part was how welcoming Missy is. If you know me, I’m such a shy person around new people. I felt such a connection with Missy from the start; that I knew I could trust her to make this vision of mine come to life.
And she did that and so much more.
I recommend Missy to others because she’s gentle. She doesn’t push you to do things you can’t imagine doing. She constantly checks in and asks how you're feeling. She helps you find your true self, and she gets them all on camera as you're doing so.
Editor's Note: As a survivor of a childhood assault, myself, from another child, Haley and I related on levels I've never related to anyone else. As mothers, we bonded over the raw emotions we felt as children and processing that past trauma as adults through therapy and friendships. We were grateful for the perspectives we had to protect our babies and knew the list of people we would trust with our children was extremely short. I knew when Haley and I first spoke this session would be unlike anything I've ever tackled but had no idea the direction Haley wanted to take it until a few days prior when we connected about her session with last minute questions. We ended the session with the first images you see in this blog. Writing those things on her body seriously cut my soul apart into little pieces. My oldest daughter is 8 years old.
I paused between almost each letter, reflecting on the words I was writing and imagining these demands escaping the mouths of kids barely out of Kindergarten. I wondered where this child had learned to act this way, and sympathized in wonder, thinking something must have happened to him for him to know what he was doing. I cried when I got in my car to pick up my daughter from school after the session, thinking how this world needs to change, and I have hope that it is changing. Our stories are making a difference and our voice are being heard.
I remember my first boudoir session, I went into it thinking "I'm going to find myself again. I've been buried under being a mother." When I came out of the session, I felt alive. I felt renewed and I rejoiced in the feeling that I had finally felt safe and sexy at the exact same time. There are few times a survivor will feel that in life. That's my passion. That's why I'm here. I'm here to help women feel safe and sexy in their own skin. And I am so honored that I was able to give that experience to my new friend, Haley.
1 in 4 children will be sexually abused by the age of 18. This is an extremely sensitive topic but from someone who's gone through it, I wanted to relay some things I've set in place that have made me feel safer and have made a difference in my life.
It's okay to cut toxic people out of your life, especially ones that bring unsafe people around your children. You don't owe anyone an explanation when it comes to your child's safety.
Doors are open when there are visitors. This doesn't matter if it's other children visiting - or adults. To keep my kids as safe as possible, I do not allow the doors to be closed while visiting in our home. This keeps the other children safe as well, since I see their safety as my responsibility while in my house.
I don't allow my children to go to other houses without my supervision. While this may seem extreme, it guarantees their safety, and that's my top priority. This includes birthday parties, play dates, etc.
Teach your children proper anatomy. Penis and Vagina are not cuss words. These are paramount in identifying body parts. Make sure they know "secret touching" is NOT okay. Communicate, listen, and believe your child. Children rarely lie about sexual abuse. TRUST ME.
While these actions are not something that is required to keep your family safe, this empowers me as a mother and survivor. The peace of mind that it gives me to know that my children are okay, is extremely worth it to me. I know that means I will be a stay at home mother most of the time, but my business allows this. Our girls have both been to a highly respected CASA volunteer for their pre school, and the local public school. I volunteer at the school some, and I also stay in touch with every teacher that interacts with my children. I know the lunch ladies, janitors, music teacher, librarian, social worker, secretaries, nurse and principal, and they know me. I also try to take any educational class or seminar offered by the school system and otherwise. Staying involved with all the people who interact with my children and learning all the ways I can keep them safe empowers me. It's important to note that not all parents have the luxury to stay home most of the time, volunteer, etc. It really does take a village to keep our children safe. If you see something, say something.