Sexual abuse. It’s not an easy thing to talk about nor is it something that people usually want to talk about. But it’s much more common than most would think. It happened to me and lasted for two years, by my own dad. When this happens many people turn their grief and pain in on themselves and let it define them. They often blame themselves and feel as if nothing good will ever happen to them again. Personally, I was in shock, I was not only violated, I also lost my dad. What he had done to me didn’t exactly sink in until six months after he was sentenced and sent to prison. Once I realized the severity of what happened, I decided to deal with it differently than most. Instead of letting it define me and hold me back, I used it to motivate me to do things for myself and others.

I struggled for a long time with major depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. There were days where I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning, no matter how much I wanted to. My mom would have to fight with me to get me to go to school. During my freshman year of high school, I even cancelled on my date for our school’s only semi-formal that year. Before we left, I had a panic attack and couldn’t stop crying. I begged my mom not to make me go; I was simply terrified. In the end, all of my friends went and had a great time. Shortly after that dance, my mom had me go to counseling where I learned how to deal with my problems in a more healthy manner. It seems silly not to have gone to the dance, but I know that at the time, I simply couldn’t bring myself to go.

I still struggle with depression and anxiety; however, I don’t need help getting out of bed in the mornings anymore. It took a lot of hard work and perseverance to get better and I’m proud to say that I have. I could have given up and turned to other options to cope such as drugs or alcohol. Instead, I became a mentor to a young girl who has some of the same issues as I did and I began to volunteer at a local hospital. I even talked my mom into letting me apply to Harvard for a summer program after my sophomore year of high school. Being sexually abused pushed me to succeed and to put all of the negative energy that I had from my depression into more beneficial activities. It’s a part of who I am and I will proudly carry that part of me for the rest of my life.