In our country (Belize), molestation is something we daily gossip about, – because it either affects our neighbors or someone we know, but it is not often that we speak about the abuse we ourselves have suffered. Most women who have been sexually abused may not know (or may choose to ignore) the effects of what it has caused, but molestation has many effects. As I tell my story you will see how it affected me.
I am a twenty one year old woman attending the University of Belize in Belmopan. I was sexually abused from ages five to fourteen. My first abuser was a woman – she was my babysitter. She fondled me, telling me that she cared and loved me. I knew it was wrong but she kept telling me everything will be okay. I listened when she told me not to tell anyone, and being just a child, I didn’t know better. All children are vulnerable. My mother would have been at work when this happened.
Since I lived in Belmopan, during the summer vacations, my mother always sent me to the village to visit my grandparents. My grandparents both work, but my grandfather’s job was close to home. While I was there a man named Jose was renting a room at my grandparents’ house. During the night, when my grandparents were asleep, he would enter my room to kiss and fondle me. Jose told me he cared about me and loved me. Then, during the day, my three male cousins, Henry, Kevin and Mark, along with their sister Betty who were teenagers, would come to visit me. All three of them fondled me at the same time and guided me to perform activities on them.
There were times when they visited individually to do what they wanted with me. It then became a habit of theirs. I knew something was wrong and I always wondered why they would touch me when my grandparents where away. There were times also when my grandmother would be in the kitchen and my grandfather in his room and yet they touched me inappropriately. I was confused; I knew it was wrong but they talked to me and made me feel like I was safe. They made me believe that it was normal. I was still only five years old when this incident first happened. So every summer this was nothing new to me, I always expected it to happen. Betty had also fondled me once.
When I was seven my mother started to date a guy named Bob. In the beginning of their relationship everything was good, so we moved to live at a village so that mom could be close to him. A few months passed and I found myself not liking the fact that they were together at all. There were many nights when he came home drunk and started to verbally and physically abuse my mother. Even when he was sober he was verbally abusive. I disliked how he was treating her; I often cried, asking my mom why she doesn’t leave him? Her response was that she needed help to raise me, and because she loved him, but at that age I didn’t understand it much; all I wanted was for her to leave him. Then, after that, my mom wanted me to call him “dad” and because I disliked him for what he was doing I refused. However, my mom then nagged me and scolded me. It felt like she was forcing me to call him “dad”. So I did it just to keep her quiet.
I started to develop anger towards my mom and more towards Bob. One night when Bob came home drunk, he wanted to hit my mom. I felt so scared and defenseless. He nearly hit me too, but my mother shouted at him to not let that happen. We were outside the house when I grabbed him on his shirt and swung him around until he fell, after which I ran for my life! After a few weeks when I was sitting alone in the house, Bob came in from work. I was sitting on the couch, he came and sat beside me and started to tell me sweet words, saying that he cared about me and loved me. But while he was saying this he was fondling me. I began to hate the way things were, so out of anger I told my mother that he had molested me. Bob denied it and responded that I’m only saying it because I want to separate them. Mom believed me in a way, but because I had shown signs that I hated him she was not completely convinced that I was telling the truth. So I was sent to the village to live with my grandparents.
When I arrived, I told my grandmother what had happened. She felt sad and told me not to worry about it- that I will get over it. While living there, although only nine years old, I had to do house chores; sweeping, cleaning, washing dishes, preparing supper early in the morning before I go to school and making supper after my classes. My Aunt Kathy and her baby boy were living with us as well. So, I had a little cousin, whom I had to attend to most of the time. Then when I wanted to go and play with my friends, my grandmother would allow me out for just one hour. I was okay with that at first but they started to get more and more demanding of me. My little cousin was getting on my nerves and I also had to deal with my schooling. So I felt trapped and suffocated. Sometimes I just wanted to be able to breathe! So I joined a football team at my school.
My coach was a very nice guy called Ramos. Practicing sessions started at 5:30 until 6:30am. I really loved it, I loved it so much. It was my way of relaxing, releasing some stress. The work out was great. After a while, my grandmother started to complain that I was spending too much time outside the house. So she called my mother to complain about it. They stopped me from playing football. I cried because I felt so sad and disappointed. I went to Ramos asking him if he can kindly ask my grandmother to allow me to play. So he went and she just said no. That was when my life started to crumble. I got so depressed, because like I said before, they were getting on my nerves. Then it was like the one hour of play wasn’t enough for me. I wanted more freedom.
When I started to stay out longer my grandmother would punish me and not let me go out at all except to go to school. I felt so closed in, I needed to breathe, and then I got more depressed and started to cut my wrist, but after a couple of weeks, I stopped doing it. Now I wanted to take my own freedom, so when my grandmother would say take one hour, I started to take two or more hours out of the house. Then I began to cope by drinking and hanging out with my cousins (not the ones who molested me, but my other cousins).
Since I was in my village, during the summer vacations, I visited my mother in Belmopan. I have an Aunt named Sally also living in Belmopan. She was dating a guy named Ray. They both made my little cousin Abby. I was aged twelve at this time. Ray and Sally loved to go out on weekends to the club, so while they were out I would be the one babysitting Abby. Everything was okay; I enjoyed being there because no one was around to hurt me. But then, one night, Ray’s father came from the states to visit. He was in his late 50’s. I didn’t worry about him because he was old. He went to bed before Ray and Sally went to the club. After they had left, I sat on the couch to watch TV. A while passed then Ray’s father came out of his room. He sat beside me and turned the channel to pornography. He touched and fondled me. I was in shock because I really didn’t expect it. I couldn’t move much and he told me that everything is okay; to let me not be afraid and said he liked me a lot. I got more frightened when I saw him erected – all of a sudden he was on top of me. I thought I heard something outside so I told him out of fright that my aunt was back. He immediately separated from me and looked through the window, but no one was there. Then he lost his erection and got angry and scolded me about it. He didn’t attempt to touch me again, instead he gave me money. I felt worthless when he did that so I didn’t want to take it. I told him to keep it, then he said no take it and because I refused, he shoved it in my underwear. This only happened once. A few weeks after that happened, he went back to the states and I heard that he died a few years later.
When summer vacation was over, I went back to my grandparents. While I was there, my Aunt Kathy dated a guy named Sam. Since my grandparents have three bedrooms, they were staying with us for a while just until they finished building their house. Sam was in his late twenties. I was thirteen at this time. One night Sam, my grandfather, and I, were watching a very nice movie in the living room. I was also using my Aunt’s nail polish on my fingers and toes. Before the movie was over, my grandfather went to bed. I stayed because the movie was almost finished. Being there, Sam asked me if I liked the movie. I told him yea I do, so he started to have a conversation with me about it. Then he asked if he could see my nails so I showed him. But then he got more friendly and closer to me.
I was not surprised by the actions because as you can see I’ve been getting that kind of attention most of my life. However, it felt weird because he was my Aunt’s boyfriend. He began telling me how pretty I am and that he liked me. He rubbed my hands and stared in my eyes, telling me he really liked me, and to not be afraid of him and that no one has to know anything about us. He kept talking and led my hands on his private area. I was scared but he kept talking to me that it was okay. After this incident, I was uncomfortable when I would see him, but he always tried to talk to me nicely so that I felt safe – just the way my cousins did! He was nice and friendly with me and began to kiss me. He was the one I started to have sexual intercourse with. He told me he loved me and he only started to date my Aunt Kathy because he wanted to be close to me. He told me so many things until I believed him and fell in love with him. He also told me he wanted to run away with me and would take good care of me. He wanted so much but I told him I don’t want to run away. Then after a couple of months Sam told me that he would have to marry my Aunt Kathy otherwise she would have lost her job as a Catholic teacher. When he told me that I felt hurt, I felt broken down and confused. After their wedding, I could hardly talk to him. I wanted to keep my distance from him but he kept coming to me, telling me he cares so much and that he is sorry, and that he loved me. Our secret relationship lasted a year. It ended when I was fourteen. Around this time too, Sam’s brother fondled me.
My mother was still dating Bob when I moved back to Belmopan. I had no respect for him. I hated him so much because he was the one closest to me as a father figure, and who betrayed me and my mother. He hurt me emotionally but my mother kept nagging me to respect him. She seemed to abandon my feelings; I felt so rejected. After a couple of years my mother found out that he was cheating on her and their relationship ended. When he left, things were not the same – actually I can honestly say it was worse because my mother had rejected me so many times I didn’t want to talk to her. I felt like she took his side and ignored how I felt. There were times too when I cried on my pillow before going to sleep because I wanted to be closer to my mother. I wanted her to apologize to me, I wanted her so badly to come and comfort me, but instead we just hardly even talked.
When I became nineteen, I began to date a guy named Will. We have been dating almost three years now. He is a very wonderful, amazing partner to me. He asked me about my secret life and he was the first one who I told about it. I was too ashamed to mention this to anyone. It was only after I had opened up to Will that I started to realize the effects of molestation. That’s when I learned about who I really am. Most of the time, I didn’t understand why I cry when Will does not want to make love to me. I didn’t understand why when I don’t want to have sex I still do it. I didn’t understand why when I’m having sex it’s like my body is just there receiving but my mind is not there. I was spacing out most of the time while making love. I didn’t know why I acted the way I acted sometimes. So I did some research and asked for advice. That’s when I learned that I have an intimacy issue that causes me to confuse sex and love. I try to meet needs that aren’t sexual by using sex. If I want a hug or a kiss I have sex instead. I have emotional issues and anger issues as well. I don’t hate the people who molested me, they didn’t create the scene for me to hate them, they created a scene that they cared and loved me and besides I hardly see them. Most of my anger is towards my mother and I also lashed out at Will. However, I know both of them don’t deserve my anger, so I’m correctly trying to find other ways to release it.
I’m still angry with my mother because when I mentioned all of this to her she made it sound as if it was my fault, but now I know she is only saying it because she is angry with herself for not believing me in the first place. I can see in her actions that she feels guilty and tries being nice, but I want her to apologize to me and admit she did wrong. I know she will do it in time. I will have to try and work with her – it’s difficult to do, but I will do my best.
It is perhaps not my mother’s fault that molestation happened to me, nor is it my grandparent’s fault either, but I do blame them for not doing anything when I mentioned that Bob sexually abused me, because if they had acted then, I would have opened up about the others. Currently, I’m doing some recovery of my own by reading self-help books and talking to people about my issues. I’m learning a lot more about myself so I feel good. I am also a codependent person. I will talk more about codependency later on in my other articles. The main reason why I wrote this article is because I want to meet and talk to other women who have been molested. I would like to know if they are aware of the effects of molestation in their lives. I would just want to know how you are dealing with your issues, and if they are similar to mine or different. Then perhaps we can help each other with the issues. I know I am not the only one going through this. In our country, many of us hear about molestation of children, but how many of us know the effects it has when the child gets older?
I’ve been searching for professional help here in Belize and so far I haven’t found a person who specifically deals with sexual abuse survivors. We have a counselor who deals with family issues and Aids/HIV victims. Also, we have a counselor who deals with relationships and with women who have been battered by their men, but I’m searching for someone who is trained to help me in the area of child sexual abuse. If you know of someone please contact me. Children who have been molested will probably grow up to have similar issues as me. So if we would have someone trained to help them it would be wonderful. But what about us adults who have been molested? We are still affected because we haven’t dealt with our issues. I want to deal with my issues because I want better for my life. God has done so much for me; he made me survive my past, but he will only do so much for me. I have to do my own part to make it complete. So far I have been working on my issues one day at a time because it is a slow process of recovery. It’s not easy, but I am trying my best.
I want to hear from other survivors. I don’t want to create a group yet; I would just want to talk about it.