Please note that this story contains descriptions that may trigger an adverse reaction.
I Survived Childhood Sexual Assault
When I was 10, I was molested in my own home.
A male relative who came by frequently would touch me inappropriately, ‘accidentally’ brushing my butt, thighs or hands when I walked past him. At night, he’d come into my room, remove the blanket, and stare at my body.
I told my parents about him, but they excused his behaviour by saying it was his way of showing affection. Without their protection, I felt helpless and alone.
The abuse continued until I was 13. Not knowing how to deal with my emotions, I ‘acted out’ by playing truant at school and refusing to come home.
I remember the day my form teacher sat me down for a talk. He had sensed something wasn’t quite right with my behaviour, and gently probed until I confessed what had been happening at home.
It was only after I demonstrated how my relative touched me that I learnt I had been molested.
Once my teacher informed the authorities, I was moved to a children’s home temporarily for counselling and protection.
Until today, I am still grateful for his intervention. Rather than writing me off as a problematic student, my form teacher saw my cry for help and reached out when I needed it most.
I became depressed
Unfortunately, my trauma didn’t end there. As I entered adulthood, I encountered more sexual predators that made me relive the horrors of my childhood.
First, there was that cheekopek at Bedok Point who touched my butt while I was waiting for the bus.
Then, there was the supervisor at my part-time job who showed me special treatment. He started small, like letting me be the cashier while the rest of the team waited tables.
Over time, his advances got more brazen. They culminated in him hugging me at work and biting my shoulder so hard it bruised for weeks. I hated what he was doing, but was afraid rebuffing him would cost me my job.
Whenever these incidents happened, I’d sink into a deeper depression. I even attempted suicide.
Living with my scars
Initially, I asked myself if whatever I had suffered was my fault. It didn’t help that my family and society made it seem like victims had a part to play in sexual assault.
But since becoming an adult, I’ve learnt this was not the case. I was a child when I got molested, for goodness’ sake.
Nobody had taught me the difference between the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ kind of touch as a child, so I grew up not knowing how to say no in uncomfortable situations. These sexual predators targeted me precisely because I was young and vulnerable.
I am now 26, but I still live with my scars every day.
Dating is especially difficult because I am afraid my partners will leave me for someone with less baggage. My wariness of new people also makes it hard for me to meet potential boyfriends. For these reasons, I have been single since 2015.
Despite these struggles, there’s so much I’m thankful for.
I’m grateful for trustworthy friends who are my pillars of support. They have never judged me for my past and I feel safe in their presence.
I’m also thankful for my meaningful career in the civil service. Touched by the kindness I received at the children’s home I lived in at 13, I have been inspired to spend my life serving others as well.
Advice For Survivors of Sexual Assault
If you’re a sexual assault survivor like me, know that it’s never your fault. Don’t be afraid to reach out to family and close friends when you feel scared and lost. They may never fully understand what you went through, but they’ll never think any less of you.
Also, speak up when someone touches you in a way that makes you uncomfortable. If you’re not comfortable with a pat or hug because of past traumas, tell the other party.
To clear your mind of negative thoughts, look for meaningful activities. It’s not easy to forget traumatic experiences, but how we rise above it is up to us.
Lastly, thank yourself for surviving this torment. Love yourself as you are, because the people around you love you too.
All opinions in this article are the contributor’s own; the contents are not reflective of or intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Cover image: source