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I’m currently 22 years old, and for so long, I felt as if I had my childhood taken from me.

Before I explain my story, I do want to say that I didn’t realize that my mind was capable of taking what had happen to me and hiding it away inside me.

I still felt guilt and random depression … yet I thought I was ‘over’ it.

I was not.

Once you understand what is bothering you, it can be fixed.

When I was a little girl, around the age of 6, I looked up to my uncle. He’d take me to the store all the time to pick out whatever I wanted, he let me eat candy when my mom wouldn’t have been okay with it, he stood up for me if I was in trouble, and he showed me attention when most of my family didn’t at that time.

I loved my uncle, and he had gained my trust. He was the kind of guy you could count on. He was always being there for everyone. He was the man who you could call at 3AM if your car broke down, and he would come help you – maybe even buy you a new car.

Well, little did I know, being so young, that it was all nothing but a setup … a setup that took years of gaining everyone’s trust, going to church every Sunday, gaining a reputation as a well-known man of the community, with many people who looked up to him.

I don’t recall the exact day the child sexual abuse began but I do remember being told that I could trust him.

He’d say things like, “I’m helping you,” and “I’d never hurt you.” For a while, he didn’t touch me, but he’d gained my trust, expecting that I wouldn’t tell anyone about the child sexual abuse.

I didn’t tell a soul.

At first, I was so young that I felt as if something was just kinda … off, but I wasn’t sure if it was wrong or not.

The child sexual abuse went on for years.

Every time the kids’ cartoon Tom and Jerry would come on TV, he’d have me go into the den and lay on the couch. His wife would normally be cooking in the kitchen or off doing something during that time.

There were glass mirrors in the TV stand that he would open a certain way if his wife was home, so he could see her reflection off the glass if she was coming that way.

He would make me lay on my belly while he touched and rubbed my body. He never had sexual intercourse with me.

This would go on for years, almost every single day. He always complimented me while he would touch, and after a while I finally started to realize that what he was doing to me was wrong.

Even then, after years of having dealt with that man, I still was scared to tell anyone … mainly because I knew the family loved him.

He’d won everyone over, and I thought nobody would believe me so I had to act like everything was fine.

I remember running from him the last time he tried to sexually abuse me and I told him I was going to tell the woman who lived across from him as his wife was gone that day.

My mind will not allow me to remember what he did or said but I didn’t leave. I didn’t go back to his house after that day. I talked my mom into letting me ride the school bus to a friend’s house instead of my uncle’s.

I didn’t explain why.

I still held in what happen to me, and I didn’t tell until I turned 18 years old. I was working at a new job, in which I had to be around new people and older men, which gave me flashbacks to my childhood. I called my mother and finally told her the truth. We kept it to ourselves, it felt better to at least tell someone what happen.

Then, as I got older, I was put on medication to cope with depression and anxiety. I never understood why until I went back to his house to get my closure with him; to FINALLY him how I felt.

By this point, I was an adult with a child of my own and a fiancée. I went into his home by myself, while a close friend waited in the car. I walked in ready to get it over with.

At this point the man was now 80 years old, yet still was aware of what he done to me. I started my conversation by telling him that I wanted to understand why he did that to me, and I told him that what he did was wrong.

He actually admitted to what he did, yet wouldn’t apologize.

He told me that he saw nothing wrong with it. He also said me, “Well, you’re engaged, about to be married soon, so I see nothing wrong with it.

Once he said that, my mouth dropped open.

He actually expected a thank you from me!

His eyes confirmed that. He had the audacity to explain that he’d groomed me as a child; that he prepared me for my future husband. I explained how wrong he was.

I made it very clear that he had nothing to do with my engagement, nor my life, aside from my anxiety issues. It seemed to surprise him that I’d said that. It seemed, in a way, to hurt him.

I never got my apology from that man, which wouldn’t have been a meaningful one anyway. However, I did leave that day feeling as if a weight was lifted off of me.

It made me view life better after getting to stand up for myself.

It may sound crazy, but just breathing felt good again. The trees looked more alive and beautiful than before. I could actually laugh with my friends and family without feeling like I was faking it all the time.

I realized that the sexual abuse wasn’t my fault. It’s never the child’s fault, no matter what. Adults know better, a child is still learning and understanding. It’s always wrong for any man to preform any sexual act on a child, whether it’s verbal or physical, it’s always wrong.

It’s going to cause you to think; it might out bring feelings you’ve hidden for years, that just come out of the blue. And yet, I firmly believe that you can overcome the madness.

You’ll probably never understand why it happened. Being abused as a child makes the saying that “everything happens for a reason” feel untrue. I believe there’s an end to all bad.

There’s also karma, which I believe will be much more powerful then him answering to me.

There is a definition for “grooming.” Being groomed for child sexual abuse does exist, and it is wrong.

Never be afraid to speak, run, tell your doctor, teacher, someone you know can – and will – help.

There can be a stop to the childhood sexual abuse. Never believe the lies of the ones who want to bring you down or hurt you.