‘When I was five years old, I was raped by my next door neighbor. As you can imagine, it took its toll on my whole childhood. I was in and out with therapists and I was told over and over again that growing up would be hard…that I would struggle with depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Doctors told me I was paranoid and overreacting but I wasn’t scared of everything for nothing. I just ended up not discussing it with anyone and I dealt with it on my own. But that put me in uncomfortable positions. I tried to never feel anything. Some meds the doctors put me on shut me down completely so that I couldn’t actually feel anything.

As a kid, you shouldn’t have to think or worry about things like that. All through elementary school, I felt like an outcast and that no one else had to deal with something like this. I felt like no one wanted to be around me. A lot of people knew what happened. My teachers knew. They could see I was struggling with socializing. Third to fifth grade was a blur…I lived with my grandparents because my mom was a recovering drug addict and an alcoholic and my dad wasn’t around too much.

My faith is in learning how to heal myself. Lately though, I’ve stepped out of my shell. I’ve been going to concerts and I’ve met some of the most amazing people. Music has gotten me through this and it has helped me to express my emotions. It’s been ten years now since the attack. Two years ago, I thought I wouldn’t be alive and that there was no point in anything. But, one of my best friends introduced me to poetry and photography and, when I found out, from her, that I wasn’t alone, I realized that my feelings were and are valid. I’m learning to trust people again and I learn something from every person I meet. There is still a light inside my soul that no one can put out. I want the world to know that even though terrible things can happen, the world is still beautiful and I’m glad to be a part of it.’

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