My older brother's first childhood memory is of intruders in our house, holding a gun to my head. I was less than a year old, and while I am thankful I have no recollection of the events, I have no doubt my body does. I have always had a heightened sense of danger and the events of my childhood only sharpened my awareness.
My first memory is of being transported in a box truck. I recall the metallic, dusty smell and the pain in my eyes the few times I saw the sunlight during the journey. I do not know how long we traveled, nor the locations we stopped. I do recall being taught to play dominoes by two strange men that kept me in their hotel rooms.
I was traded, as blonde haired and blue eyed currency, to the debts owed by my drug addicted and abusive step-father. From the age of two until I was seven, I was not seen as a human.
My faith in humanity is paper thin, but I do have hope. It is fragile, and lacks confidence but hope is there. I have survived being a victim, and the dialogue we start with young boys and girls about strength and fearlessness I hope will translate to less abductions of innocence.
Sexual assault, child molestation, rape. They're words that make us uncomfortable and therefore we avoid them. We sweep them under the rug. We attempt to make excuses for the actions because no one wants to believe in monsters... but they're real and we need to see them for what they are.
To my fellow survivors... Remaining silent does not protect you. I hear you. I believe you. I am here for you.