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I was nearly 6 years old when I first experienced sexual abuse. My abuser was someone my family knew well. He worked in my family’s field and earned their respect as a hardworking man. He was also very kind to the children in my family, especially me. During my days off from school, he’d ask my parents to have me shadow him on the field. As my parents trusted him, they always said yes.

With my family’s permission, we started our days in the field together. In the beginning, I felt safe and ran freely through the fields with him. He always picked flowers for me and told me stories. Once he earned my trust, his monstrous side came out. 

Our morning always started out the same. He’d ask me about school and I’d ask him about his family. From there, we’d walk to the fields where I was far from my family. This was his “safe place.” He was comfortable there and started asking to see under my skirt. While I felt it was a strange request, my parents never talked to me about sex and I didn’t want to say no to the man my family loved and respected.

What started out as a request to see my underwear soon turned into touch. I knew it was wrong. However, he always talked “sense” into me and I went along. Soon after, my little hands were guided under his clothing. I stood there frozen and obeyed. As time went on, his requests turned into demands. He threatened to tell my parents as if it was my fault. I was terrified and did not want my parents to know.

Regardless of what he told me, I knew I had to protect myself. I couldn’t let this monster continue to place his shame and guilt on me. I told my parents I needed more time to read books and did not want to play with field workers. Although they did not understand the sudden change in my interest, they agreed.

Time went on and my parents moved our family to the U.S. While I tried to move on with life, memories of the helpless

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You are not ‘Damaged Goods’: Coping With Sexual Abuse

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