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When I was in middle school and high school, a typical writing assignment would be “describe your earliest childhood memory”.  For me my earliest childhood memory was being sexually molested in my small hometown of Mountainhome, Pennsylvania.  I was abused between the ages of five and seven.

            Every Sunday morning my parents would get me dressed up in my little white dress, white tights, and patent leather shoes, and we would go have breakfast together as a family before church.  The diner was called the Mountainhome Diner, and my parents became friends with a group of older gentleman there who called themselves “coffee club”.  A man named Mr. White soon became like an adopted grandfather to me, and I would walk across the diner by myself while my parents finished their coffee and visit with him every Sunday morning.  After Mr. White died, I still went back to visit with this group of men. 

            One of the men in the group was nicknamed “Buck Hill Bill”, and was about 70 years old.  What started out as me going back to sit on his lap became something entirely different.  In the middle of the diner he would stick his fingers under my dress, through my tights, into my underwear, and touch me.  I distinctly remember him talking to me while this was going on, whispering in my ear, asking me if it felt good, and saying I was a good girl.  I remember the physical pain of his large hands being just about all I could bear.  After he ran out of child like toys to give me, he would start giving me his wife’s jewelry.  He would lure me back with anything he had, even going as far as giving my parents gifts.  Some days I would go back and he would say, “too many people are around, we can’t today, I’m sorry.” 

            At such a young age, I knew what he was doing was wrong, but he was the adult and I knew adults could decipher right from wrong better than I could, so I expected him to make the right choices.  I didn’t like going back there to see him, but at the time I remember thinking it was something I should do. 

            The abuse stopped when we stopped going to the diner for breakfast;  my parents didn’t like the coffee there anymore.  I didn’t tell anyone of the abuse because I didn’t realize what it was until I was twelve.  By the time I told my mother about the abuse, “Buck Hill Bill” had already died, and nothing could have been done about it. 

            The first sexual experiences I had with boyfriends were difficult.  It was hard to have men touch me, and even harder for them to talk to me while we were being intimate.  There were many times I would completely freeze and have panic attacks.  I suppressed these feelings for years until I finally decided to take charge of it.

            When I was 21, I decided to see a therapist.  I had no clue how she would help me, or if I could ever get over the pain of what had happened to me.  My biggest problem was anger – I was so angry at him for stripping me of my innocence.  I was so angry at the rest of the people in the diner that they didn’t see what was happening to a child.  It took me a while to work through the rage, disappointment, and pain that I felt.  I felt alone with no one to turn to, and that people just wouldn’t understand.  After a year of seeing a therapist I had regained my self confidence and got rid of my anger.  I knew that it wasn’t my fault that the abuse had happened, and I owed it to myself to move on with my life and find someone that truly cared about me.

            I grew up in a great town with great people in it.  My parents were (and still are) very over protective of me, and the abuse still happened.  I never got the talk as a child about “bad touching” and who should be doing that and who shouldn’t.  I am now an accomplished 26 year old music educator, teaching grades first through fifth.    I have a wonderful boyfriend who I plan on spending the rest of my life with, and am currently working on getting my masters degree in Educational Leadership and Administration. 

            I tell people going through any type of abuse that you are not alone and there are people to turn to.  Don’t be ashamed – you’ve done nothing wrong.  Surround yourself with people that truly care about you and know that talking about it will significantly help the healing process.