Dear StacyK,

It's awkward for me to talk about this. After all, I had great therapy that helped me block out a lot of the bad things, but I wanted to share my story with you because of your movement. I hope it helps someone else speak out. When I was nine years old, my mom married the man who would become my stepdad. He seemed nice, but we hardly even knew him. I have two brothers, and during this time, one was seven years old, and the other was one. My stepdad cooked and cleaned and took a lot of pressure off of me because when my mom and dad divorced, I had to take care of my brothers. My mom worked all the time, so I was left home cooking, cleaning, and caring for everyone. I never forgot the first time my stepdad did something inappropriate to me. My mom let me ask a friend to go to the dance hall with us, but before we left, he suggested we ride to the store with him while we waited on my mom to get ready. Once there, he asked what we wanted to drink and promised if we wouldn’t tell anyone, he would get us all the liquor we wanted, so my friend and I asked for wine coolers and a pack of cigarettes. I should have known when this adult man asked two little girls what they wanted to drink that something was wrong, but I didn’t see it. I thought it was cool.

We had a great time dancing and then dropped my friend off at her house and came home drunk. This is when it all started, and my life changed. When my mom went to bed that night, my stepdad followed me to my bedroom, and tucked me in. This night was the first time he ever touched my chest. He promised me everything would be okay and not to tell anyone or my friend and I would get in trouble for drinking.

I don’t know what I was thinking, but I decided not to tell anyone, not even my closest friends. All this kept happening, and if that wasn’t enough, my mom suggested he help me wash my hair in the shower. It was strange, I knew it was, but trusted if my mom thought it was okay then it was, and he never touched me while I was in the shower. But every day for about a year and a half he would tuck me in and touch my breasts.

One night, one of my friends spent the night while my mom was gone, and he came into my room, put a porn movie in the VCR, and lay in the bed with us to watch it. My friend seemed excited to watch it. We had never seen anything like that before, but I felt bad, so I rolled over and pretended to fall asleep. Then again, another time during Christmas, we were in the living room watching a movie while my mom was gone, and he asked me to sit on his lap, but this time he slipped his hand into my pants and touched me. I'm not sure how long I sat there, but when I finally got scared and realized it was wrong, I ran to my bedroom to hide.

Finally, right before I turned twelve, my friend called me to come to her house, and when I got there, her entire family was sitting around crying. The last time she had been to my house, my stepdad had tried to kiss her, and she went home and wrote this in her diary, and her sister found it and showed it to her mom. For the first time, I told someone what was happening to me and shared my story with my friend's mom. We never had to see this man again, but we did have to go to the sheriff's office and give detailed statements of everything that had happened. I saved all the bottles of alcohol he had ever bought us in my toy box, so they took that as evidence, and by this point my other best friend came forward and said something had happened to her. After court, he was sentenced to three years in prison and ten years’ probation.

That sentence seemed horribly wrong because I had to suffer living with him for three years! I don't remember exactly what he looks like anymore, which is almost worse than remembering, because now I get scared that anyone I see could be him.

All of this hurt me. It affected my teenage relationships, and by the time I was fourteen years old, I was raped. I began to attract men who cheated on me. They emotionally abused me with disrespect, and once they cheated on me and I forgave them, they convinced me I was the problem. I still struggle with sexual suppression. I’ve tried pushing the truth so far away that I now realize it is always hidden somewhere deep inside me. Today I am twenty-seven years old. I have been married to my husband for a year and a half, and we are expecting our first baby. He is one of the only people I have ever trusted, but I still have issues. I hope this letter helps you with your book. I want you to know I’m writing it to bring awareness to mothers everywhere. They should always protect their children and never leave them in the care of someone they don’t really know.

Amber- 27 years old

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