How Much Was I Worth?

When I was 13 my father raped me.
He only did it once.
He let his brother, my uncle, rape me many times.
They call us survivors because that’s what we learn to do.
We find a way of surviving, of getting through it. As a 13 year old I didn’t use all the right labels, but words like “rape” and “incest” were the first. Which 13 year old schoolgirl wants to claim words like that anyway? Sometimes surviving involves escaping. I did that too. As soon as I could, I left home and started a new life at college. I was lucky. A straight A student.
For many others escape means a bus station, the streets. A life of looking for love, and finding it in the arms of a trafficker. Drugs, sexual slavery, arrest and incarceration. It’s mostly victims just like me who get incarcerated.

Being raped at home first by my father, then my uncle, with the tacit approval of my mother, I didn’t know how frighteningly normal I am.
I didn’t know that a fifth of America’s children are sexually abused.
I didn’t know that about one in every ten of us experience the additional betrayal of parents who know, and do nothing.

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