On January 30, 2010, I awakened once again from the disturbing dream that I first started having when I was a teenager.
In many ways, the dream mirrored the sexual abuse that I’d experienced when I was younger, and I always awoke from it feeling all of the same shame, confusion, guilt, and self doubt. These feelings were not a result of the abuser being cruel or rough toward me; they were because in course of the dream—as well as in real life—he was very much the opposite of those things.
That particular January day, I couldn’t seem to shake it off. I lay miserable in bed for over an hour, staring at the ceiling until I was finally compelled to do something with my emotions. So I got up, went to my computer, and started typing.
After I’d finished several paragraphs (which now appear in the first chapter of the book), I read them back and thought: How can I possibly consider writing about this?
It seemed to me that even though a story was rapidly unfolding in my mind, I should stop thinking about it. But the idea kept nagging at me throughout the day.
I wondered whether having the opportunity as a teen to read a book that reflected what I was going through could have given me the comfort I’d needed and the strength to begin to heal sooner.
I thought about how most of the depictions of sexual abuse I’ve seen in movies and books are characterized by violence and threats.
I remembered that it wasn’t like that for me, and that I’d grown up feeling as if the things that had happened didn’t matter because I hadn’t been physically harmed.
I reflected on when I finally got help while in my twenties, and how I came to understand—after months of therapy—that abuse doesn’t always look like abuse, it doesn’t always feel like abuse, but that doesn’t mean that the victim wanted it or is responsible.
Then I realized that, yes, I still have the occasional upsetting dream, but I’m an adult now and I’ve truly moved away from my past. Meanwhile, right now, there are so many young people who are experiencing the things that I’ve experienced and keeping it all a secret like I did for so long.