...But I haven't felt brave enough to do it until now. The bullshit part about me having to be brave about this is it isn't fucking fair. I shouldn't have to be brave because I don't have one fucking thing to be ashamed of. I didn't do anything wrong. Yet twenty years later I still feel some residual shame from the little girl that once was me.

I apologize if this is disorganized, and hard to read. I think it's important to share my experience with other people because I want them to know that children who are molested grow up. We have lives. Jobs. Families. Some of us hold it together better than others. I'd like to think I am in the group that did hold it together, but now I'm not so sure. Sometimes I wonder about the damage it did to me that I can't see.

My story is graphic. I'm not going to sugarcoat it because I am done lying to protect my abuser. It is HIS shame. Not mine.

***

I don't remember how old I was when it started happening, but I have some clues to pinpoint the age. We still lived with my grandpa in his house instead of living in the trailer my parents had purchased and were still trying to renovate. I was eight when we moved into the trailer, so I know I had to have been younger than eight. I remember the couch where my abuse would take place. It was like rough tweed; brown in different shades with tan and orange threads running through the pattern. From these clues I would place my age from five to seven. It happened in the course of one summer.

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He was my next door neighbor's son. My mom and dad would make remarks about how his father was a child molester. I distinctly remember it starting after his mom bought me some toys. I told him, "I love you." As I grew older and realized what had happened I would wonder if this had triggered it. As if it were my fault that I had told someone who was probably eighteen to twenty at the time that I loved him. I remember that the toys were these things that linked together, and were different colors. I remember that I said it in front of my dad's pole barn where he would be most of the time, messing around with various engines while my molester would hold a light for him or fetch tools.

It happened in the Summer, I think. I wore a lot of shorts. It started with me sitting on his lap and him taking his penis out of his pants. He'd wait until my parents had left and have me go get a blanket. He'd ask me to fondle it, and I would. I remember him telling me to kiss it, and I kissed it like I was kissing someone's cheek. I know it happened enough that he stopped wearing underwear over to my house. I remember that his semen was milky white and thick.

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The last time it happened he meant to penetrate me. He took me into the bathroom, pulled down his pants, and sat down on the toilet. He told me to take off my lime green shorts with purple triangles on them, and sit in his lap. Suddenly, a miracle happened. My grandpa's voice was heard outside of the bathroom, "Polly, get out of the bathroom with him." I did, and it never happened again. I don't know if my molester was just scared off by the idea that my grandpa knew, or if my grandpa threatened him.

All I know is it never happened again.

Some may say my grandpa was wrong for not telling my parents or calling the police, but my grandpa saved me. He saved me, and I love him so much for that, even if he didn't do what he should have done. He was my protector and I miss him so much.

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***

I'm sixteen. It's winter. Grandpa died in his sleep in November, just days after my sixteenth birthday. My mom and I had dinner at my Aunt's friend's house, and played cards afterwords. The subject changed to a local girl being sexually assaulted by a boy who was under the age of consent, and the police told her that if she pressed charges against him they'd have to arrest her for statutory rape. I don't remember who the girl was. On the drive home I told my mom everything.

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Two weeks later my abuser moved back into his parent's house next door. He came over a few days after that. I hid in my bedroom as my parents confronted him. He, of course, denied it all. My mom came back into my bedroom, stroked my hair, and asked, "You are telling the truth, aren't you Polly? You're sure this is what happened?" I've never been more sure of anything in my whole life.

***

I'm sixteen still, and I'm over at my best friend's house. She lives across the street. Her cool older brother who is a professional musician and has his own band is visiting with his short haired vegetarian girlfriend. We live in Indiana. I'd never met a cool vegetarian before. My friend, who is 15, sneaks off to take a phone call. Cool girlfriend tells me, "Yeah. It's that guy next door to your house that she's been dating." The way she says it I can tell she thinks it's fucked up that her boyfriend's 15 year old sister is openly dating a man who is in his late twenties or early thirties. I am horrified.

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My best friend is dating my molester. The molester I told her about. I was hurt. I was angry. I was betrayed by someone who I had loved. I plotted my revenge. I began telling everyone that I had been molested, and that my friend was now dating my molester. People in our High School began talking about how she was fucking some old guy. She turned me into the guidance counselor and accused me of lying. I remember her pointing at me and saying, "If you were really molested Polly why didn't you get help?" She truly believed I was a liar. ...And truth be told, in my younger years I had a habit for telling whoppers. But I didn't lie about important shit, and I didn't lie about this.

My guidance counselor, however, believed me. She called in CPS. I was interviewed. I don't remember much of the interview, but I do remember it was a man and a woman, and they asked me if he'd said anything to me. I said no, then I mentioned that he had told me to touch his penis, and the man said, "So he did say something to you?" Like it was this big Ah Ha moment. Like he'd caught me. If anything ever came of the interview I have no idea. That was the one and only time my molestation was ever reported or investigated.

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We were no longer friends, but we were on the swim team together. My molester came to one of our swim meets with my former best friend's mom. I walked over to her and yelled, "Why the FUCK is he here?" She looked up at me as if she were frightened and stammered out, "I didn't know he was coming." On the car ride home my cousin yelled at me for being mean to her. That really hurt.

As a fully grown woman I realize now that she was just as much a victim as I was. My crusade against her made her go back to homeschooling. I wish I hadn't of done that. I wish I would have gone to my guidance counselor quietly and explained the situation to her. I wish I could apologize to her. I wish I could have protected her. I was just sixteen. She's married now to a soldier. They are stationed in Germany and have two beautiful little boys that look like her. We are Facebook friends now, so she must have forgiven me for what happened. She seems happy, and I'm glad.

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***

I used to throw up sometimes when I gave men oral sex. I'd have panic attacks in the middle of it. This doesn't happen with my husband as much. And I refuse to stop doing something that makes someone I love happy because I REFUSE to give my abuser control over my life. I refuse feeling guilt over it.

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I do feel guilty for not speaking up sooner. He has a daughter. Sometimes I lie awake at night hoping that he hasn't touched her. I hope he hasn't made someone else do what he made me do. I know logically I am not responsible for his actions, but goddamn it I can't get past the guilt of not speaking up sooner. Then I wonder...would anyone have listened anyways?

So often we remain silent, and I'm just not fucking doing it anymore. I'm tired of bearing his shame, and I won't do it anymore.