By Taylor Adkins, a BTS Scholarship Winner
I was six years old when I was molested by my older brother. I wish I could say it only happened once, but the abuse went on for two years. Experiencing this framed how I viewed intimacy for the next twenty years. Growing up I often felt lost. At the time, my parents had no idea the suffering I was undergoing even after the abuse ended. I was manipulated into thinking if I told, I would be in trouble, so I never disclosed my trauma. My view of male and female gender roles were heavily distorted. I grew up believing a male’s satisfaction comes before mine no matter what. The only way to display love is through physical intimacy and to always forgive no matter how many times a man hurts you.
Having these philosophies and ideals became a recipe for disaster in the dating world. I had extremely unhealthy attachment issues. My first relationship lasted six years from the time I was 14 to 20 years old. He was a habitual cheater, but I stayed even when I was unhappy due to the ideals that were shaped from my childhood. I always gave men in my life multiple chances, but never females. I put my faith and happiness in men because if I could make a man happy then I believed I would be happy. It is foolish now looking back, but at the time I was very lost and misguided.
During my undergraduate studies, I developed a friendship with a boy who lived in my neighborhood. We were always in the same circles and hung out with the majority of the same people, so our friendship clicked. He was rough around the edges, but I chose to remain friends with him. He was a known thief and hung out with some college drug dealers, but I decided to trust him anyway. Remember my ideology men always come first no matter what. This held true even in friendship scenarios. My friend knew I was in a relationship and very much monogamous, but he wanted me for himself. One night after a party he took me home to make sure I was safe. He raped me. This moment I remember thinking to myself, “Not again.” As a child, I had been molested, but thankfully never raped, so this devastated me.
I coped from my trauma in terrible ways. Instead of seeking the help and intense counseling I desperately needed, I began to drink a lot. After my rape, I had the courage to break up with my first boyfriend. I finally had the excuse I needed to leave him even though I had been unhappy for years. I replaced him with alcohol. My parents thought it was best I remain in school instead of taking time off. They did not want a man to ruin all the work I had done so far, so they wanted me in school so that I could graduate. I should have fought for what I needed, which was time off to reprogram my mind and heal, but I did not want to let them down.
Being back in the same environment I just got raped in gave me extreme anxiety. My solution was to find a man. Four months after being enrolled at my new university, I was in another relationship. I was in no shape to be dating. I could barely be touched without crying, but I still believed a man would make me happy. He did at first. We clicked and we were inseparable. He was with me every single day, all day. We lived in the same dorms so after classes we would spend all of our time together. I fell fast and hard. I no longer had to heal from my personal traumas and could put all of my energy into him and the relationship we were building. Once I was hooked, he changed. He became emotionally abusive and a serial cheater.
I stayed in this relationship for five years. It was not until I became pregnant that I could see it for what it truly was. I remember staying with him while he destroyed my inner spirit because I believed nothing was as bad as my rape. I believed I should give him chance after chance even though it was costing all of my happiness and mental sanity. It was destroying me, and I was drowning myself in alcohol to numb everything. I gave men all the power in my life, and I then found myself pregnant with guess what, a man. I asked myself what kind of man do I want my son to be. Do I want him to love and protect women or hurt and destroy them? I had to be honest with myself and realize my ideals and philosophies have been wrong since I was a little girl. My happiness matters. My life matters. I deserve to have real love because that is what I give. I could not teach my son any of this if I continued down the path of excessive drinking and being emotionally abused by his father. I need to heal and be the best mom I can be so that I do not instill very misguided philosophies on my baby.
For the first time in my life, I am in counseling. I was able to gather the strength to tell my parents everything, even the molestation. I was able to be honest with myself about my ideals. I have given up excessive drinking and men are no longer the center of my universe. My son is the man who saved my life. He has shaped me into the woman I have always wanted to be, but never knew how. He has given me the extra push I need to stand on my own two feet and I am finally happy, truly happy.
If you or someone you know