I write this story as an inspiration of my friend’s brave story of how she was abused as a child. I will warn you now that this will be personal, contain sexual phrases, and not for the faint hearted, but most importantly, it’s true. But I feel this story must be told to create a dialogue of abuse prevention and the importance of consent.
When I was a child I went to a special school for a few years due to my autism. It was many miles away from home so I would have to go by bus every day (and this was before motorways existed outside Dublin). This bus specifically took kids with disabilities to different schools around the city. When I was 6 there was a new kid. His name was Michael and he was 2 years older than me. He had no obvious disabilities but he was from a damaged background and it affected him, as I would find out the hard way.
I was bullied by Michael on the way to and from school most days. He said mean things to me, stole my possessions followed by threatening to throw them out the window while the bus was moving on a very busy road. One morning I accidentally sneezed on the bus floor, he stole my school bag and decided to wipe the floor with it. I still remember running into school crying about my snotty bag. Luckily the teachers were good to nice and cleaned the bag. I tried telling people that I was being bullied but nobody did anything about the problem. To this day people do not take the bullying I had seriously and I still do not understand why nobody helped me.
However they were only trivial in comparison to the worst thing he did. On the way home one day, he manipulated me into getting involved with something that no 6 year old girl would either fully understand or wish to do. He wanted to put his hand down my trousers and touch me; in return I would put my hand down his trousers and touch his penis. Although as a 6 year old girl who was quite autistic, I knew that it wasn’t the right thing for kids to do that to each other. And I knew it wasn’t simply just innocent, accidental exploration. He did it on purpose and he understood it was sexual. Not for one second did I want to do it but he had power over me. I was touched without my consent by an older child. To put it simply: I was molested.
For some reason, I told nobody what happened for thirteen years and until this post very few knew at all. It affected how I saw things for a very long time. Being bullied made me discover that I was different to other kids. I knew I was disabled and being disabled made me weak. It depresses me to this day that if was seen as normal, I would have never been bullied. People assume because I have developed as a 22 year old college student with a potential and have loved ones in my life makes that my autism not an issue any more. Nobody understands the jealousy I had with friends, siblings, cousins and classmates because they had no reason to be bullied. Nobody knows how I felt voiceless and inferior for so long because I was voiceless and weak then. I have mentioned I was bullied a few times but people but nobody took it seriously either because it didn’t happen in the school itself or they did not believe child on child molestation was real. Nobody knows what it is like to be doubting if it ever happened because I was just a stupid little girl. But when another victim of his brought it up 3 years ago, it all came back. The pure hatred I had flowed through me, I wanted him to suffer just like I did. Nobody knows what it is like to try to be strong and not be a fucking crybaby, fearing I will be bullied, attacked and raped because I am weirder, and it’s why I have done not one, but two forms of martial arts. Nobody knows how it makes you scared of having disabled kids because you exactly how it feels and wouldn’t wish this suffering on anybody. Nobody knows how it’s given me anxiety and self-harming tendencies.
With the stories of abuse, rape and molestation I have decided I will not go quiet into the night any more. I was molested at 6 years old. It has made me fear my past and my future. It has made me question my abilities as a person. It has made me feel like I am less of a person. It has made me feel like I am the only person who is like this. I take anti-depressants every night and I may have to go to counselling for the rest of my life.
I refuse to be quiet, I refuse to believe what I am doing is wrong, and I refuse to be dismissed by everyone because it’s not the norm simply because I wasn’t a drunk, skimpy-dressed woman abused a creepy stranger or a child abused by a respected adult with terrible secrets.
Nor will I delete this because it’s inappropriate. But that is the point. We need to get this into people’s minds that sexual abuse towards all ages, genders, sexual orientations, religions, races is wrong. It is NEVER EVER the victim’s fault. If someone says they were abused, believe them. Very few make it up.
To fellow victims: You have a voice. You are not inferior to other people. You are better than your abuser. Just because “things could have been worse”, abuse stories are not a contest. You didn’t give consent and it felt bad, that’s abuse in a nutshell. And don’t forget to make your life great for yourself, because that is how you win at life.
To Michael if you ever see this: I don’t know where you are, what you look like as an adult, how your life is or even if you are alive. I haven’t seen you in 15 years and I am very grateful I haven’t. Although you made my life a living hell, my life has also been pretty great. I have done well in school, I am in a degree I like, I am good at writing articles, I have a stable family, I have friends who respect me, I am in love with a wonderful man who gives me strength and loves me for me, I even get to travel to great places. I won’t say that I want you dead or that I forgive you. But I will tell you this: I fight the fears you give me every day, and every year I get better and stronger, and I am not afraid of you. Touching and bullying me was wrong. My autism was not a reason to hurt me and it is not a weakness. It was disgusting what you did, I hope you realise that and you answer for what you have done. Sincerely, Louise Clancy.