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Unless You've Been in My Shoes

Watch what you say...

There are many situations when someone has been through something, and as they are telling their story someone goes, 'well, I would’ve done this, or it couldn’t have been me, etc...' Although it doesn’t seem offense as it’s coming out the person’s mouth, it very much is, depending on the situation, especially when it’s something traumatic. Since the age of six to 14, I went through years of sexual, physical, emotional, and verbal abuse. A lot of the things I have been through are horrific and I wouldn’t wish these things on my worst enemy. 

As I’ve gotten older, I have been in situations where I’ve told people about my past. I have told people about what I’ve been through and that it was all by the hands of my step-dad. While going through these things I attended school regularly, even though it wasn’t often I saw my other family members, and once again sometimes got the opportunity to be away from the man that was performing heinous acts on my sister and I. One of the biggest questions I get is “why didn’t you say anything?” There is nothing like the emotions that run through me when I answer that question. There is also nothing like the feeling I get when I try to play the "what if hindsight bias game" with myself about what happened to me in my past. The answer to my question is you don’t understand I was a child when all these things happened to me and that this man raised me into thinking that this is how life is suppose to be and I literally had no control over my situation. Honestly, there were many times that I could’ve said something, but my fear was more overpowering, there were many times when I could’ve said something, but I was scared for me and my siblings' lives. There were many times when I could’ve said something, but little did I know I was in a trap of manipulation and being brainwashed by my stepdad.

When someone asks me why I didn’t say anything, they don’t know what it would’ve been like to be in my shoes, and the situation wouldn’t have turned out as I expected. People don’t understand that it isn’t as easy as it seems and that it is easier said than done. There were many times when I wanted to run away, but I thought about being caught and brutally beaten afterward. I remember when I was in elementary school, and CPS had to come to the house because a teacher noticed the bruises on me and my sisters face. Before CPS came, my stepdad told us what to say to them, how could I have gone against what my stepfather was telling me to do and risk the consequences as soon as they left. Honestly, people don’t understand that asking for help seems like the worst thing to do at times. People that weren’t in my shoes didn’t go through what I went through so they wouldn’t know what my step dad was capable of. When people looked at my stepdad, they saw this charming, funny, cool guy. Would someone have even believed me if I said anything?

Control is a serious thing, especially when children are being controlled at such a young age. How can a child stand against an adult forcing himself on top of them? How can a child force off the hard grip tightening around their throat until they pass out? If you were a child at eight years old, could you have done that? When you’re raised into trauma it becomes a horrible second nature, and it turns into your norm. My norm was waking up every day, waiting on my stepdad hand and foot, then being beating or sexually abused. My norm was hearing my sisters being beaten and waiting for it to be my turn. Even as I grew up, I was scared; I was afraid that I would be killed if I ever said anything. When people say 'I would’ve done this,' do they think about how it feels when your life is threatened? Do they think about someone telling them how easy it would be to kill them, tie you up and then be thrown over a fence into the woods of your back yard? No one understands the pain that someone feels when they start to understand what they’re going through is wrong, but there is nothing that can do about it. Fear is extremely real, and that alone is something that can haunt you every day. There were moments when I would tell my friends about what I’ve been through, and once they heard about it they were ready to tell an adult, but I would beg them not to because I was afraid of the consequences. In my life, I have been through a lot of things, to this day I still regret a lot of times when I could’ve said something but fear took over me. When someone shares their story with you, don’t judge them for the things that have happened to them. Don’t fix your mouth to try to predict actions that you were never in a position to make because you didn’t go through it. The best thing you can do is listen and be supportive because the person telling you their story has already through enough. 

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Unless You've Been in My Shoes
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