I can say that I was a very happy kid. The key to my heart was great books and expressing myself through writing. I also needed my alone time. I never had anyone to warn me about the traumas I would’ve faced, or how to deal with them for that matter. I’d always been a kid with high spirits. The Christmas break of my thirteenth birthday, my innocence was taken from me by someone very close. Scared, alone and confused I kept it to myself for a few weeks. Maybe because I was traumatized? Looking back, when someone asks “why didn’t you say anything as soon as it happened?” That took a lot from me. The only thing I could think about was “why me?” I felt like there would be consequences if I spoke up, so instead I kept it in and it affected my grades, my mental health, my outlook on everything and everyone. My seventh grade math teacher noticed the difference and reached out to me. I wrote her a letter explaining my situation and the school counselor got involved, along with detectives which led to house visits and investigations. This situation was the beginning of my heavy heart. I was taught to hate because I felt someone hated me enough to take my most prized possession at such a tender age. Someone that “loved” me saw me as a tool for release. Someone took me from me before I was done figuring out who I was. I had been called a liar, accused of making up the story, being called a whore, being accused of “wanting it to happen” and this stuck with me for years. Time moved on and it seemed like everyone forgot about how I was hurt and welcomed him back with opened arms. I felt broken, used, hurt and overlooked. My feelings didn’t matter because the one person that I’d rather not see at all was being embraced with so much love. I couldn’t forgive the person that killed my spirit. He changed me in an instant and I couldn’t stand looking at him. It burned me every time I saw his face. I had so many sleepless nights, there were times I tried to scrub the skin off of my body because I hated how I felt. I attempted contemplated suicide a couple times afterwards. My grandma kept telling me I should forgive him for myself. It only made it worse for her to tell me that. I didn’t care if he lived or not. It took me fourteen years to forgive him. fourteen years for me to understand that he was a lost, broken soul that was hurt and needed an outlet as well and no one would listen to him. He wanted to be heard so bad that he went to extreme measures to get the attention he so badly craved. He took apart of me so that he could feel… something. Knowing all that I know now, it saddens me because some parents don’t pay attention to what’s in front of them. They’ll please everyone else except the people that matter. It’s okay to be for the people but make sure YOUR people are okay first. Learning to forgive, for me… was one of the greatest things. I no longer hold that hate in my heart. I can move forward knowing that I’m in control of my story. I’m at peace.