It happened years ago. I was 10. He was 13. He told me it would be our secret game. He said that if I told anyone he would say it was my idea and I would be the one to get into trouble. I never told anyone and I did my best to pretend it never happened. I repressed it for years and always thought it would be a secret I took to my grave. For so long I haven't even been able to admit to myself what happened. I often wondered if I had made it up or if I was exaggerating things. Maybe it wasn't as bad as I thought, maybe I'm not remembering it properly, maybe I did something to deserve it. But I know now that's not the case. I trusted him. He was my friend. I was sexually abused. I was raped. More than once. That's the first time I've been able to properly admit that to myself. I don't know why it's come back to haunt me all these years later. I thought I had moved on. But recently I'll have these episodes that come from nowhere where I just feel so sad and empty. I don't know why I can be fine one minute and sobbing on the floor the next. Or why I sometimes still see his face when I close my eyes or why it's the first thing I think about when I wake up. I thought if ignored these, pushed them back they'd disappear. I had never truely forgotten what had happened to me. Sometimes there would be something that would remind me or trigger a flashback but overall I was doing ok. I was happy and making progress. I don't want to be defined as a victim or someone who is weak. But sometimes I look in the mirror and I still see that scared 10 year old girl. Sometimes I feel dirty and ashamed. Embarrassed and like I should have done more to stop it. I thought if I pretended it didn't happen I would be able to move on with my life. I know it's affected me. How the thought of sex sometimes makes me want to vomit, why I freak out if someone grabs me out of nowhere and why I can't stand having a hand over my mouth, even if it's a joke. But I know to heal I have to start by admitting what happened to me. I can't let it damage me anymore than it already has. And I refuse to let it damage my relationships with others. I want to take steps to move forward. I won't let it rule my life or define me. He has taken so much from me. I know there's no proof. It'll always be my word against his. And all these years on I don't want to report it or risk any of my family finding out. But I just want to be able to properly trust people again. To not sometimes flinch away when someone goes to touch me. To be ok with being vulnerable. To feel safe again. Posting this is my first step to being okay again. It feels good to be able to say what happened with no judgement. To know that this is anonymous and I could be anyone in a sea of faces. I want to gain the strength to be able to talk about it. To be able to tell my friends what happened and not feel like I'm keeping something from them or being dishonest. I know that one day I will get there. No matter how long it takes.