I was seven years old when I was violated by mother's brother, Ben. Later, my mother's boyfriend, Gale raped me.
My mother had a brother named Ben who was living with my grandfather but was kicked out for several reasons and
headed to live with us in Chandler, Arizona. Ben always made questionable choices including incest with two of his half-
sisters, one of which he had two mentally handicapped children with, and also slept with one of his nieces. Of course, as
a young child I did not know this information but my father did and it left him weary about my uncle being in the same
home as my brother and I. Unfortunately, there was nothing my father could do about Ben coming to live with us, but he
kept a close eye on his behavior.
It did not take long for my uncle to begin molesting me and he would often do so in front of my brother. We were often
threatened to keep quiet and we did. My mother was confronted by my father when he saw my behavior changing from a
sweet girl into a mean child who would often hit and bite others. As a result my father saw a top psychologist in Arizona
who told him I was being groomed. My mother was given the news and my father offered to take her to the psychologist
for confirmation, but she refused. Eventually I told my mother yet she did not do anything about the abuse. My
stepmother at the time was informed by my brother and then the police were called. My uncle ran from police and about a
year later my father tracked down Ben in Texas and he was taken to jail and took a plea deal of 16 years. Luckily, I do
not remember much of the abuse from my uncle since I was so young but I do remember being touched in front of my
brother for about a year.
After being taken from my mother and given to my father I was taken to counseling and started to work through the
trauma and behavior issues. I was also counseled on what to do if somebody touches me in inappropriate ways. Family
counseling was also incorporated so that my father and stepmother could help me while I was at home and gauge the
relationship with my mother since she was given time with my brother and I every other weekend. Things were looking up
and my life was finally full of family and happiness which lasted about three years until my mother married a man named
Gale, became a stripper, appeared in pornography, and became an alcoholic.
Gale owned a construction company which built multimillion dollar homes for celebrities at the time such as JJ the King of
Beepers, the Phoenix Suns owner, and so on. He was full of adventure and loved to travel with my mother, brother, and
me. For a few years everything was amazing and I felt like my life was complete but as tensions rose between my mother
and Gale’s construction company, they both began drinking excessively. My mother had been stripping for a few years at
this point but she started working more than ever and began appearing in pornography, on the Jenny Jones Show, and
heading to different states including Alaska for more money as a stripper. While my mother was at work Gale began to
touch me slowly, starting with his feet and then he began using his hands. I would tell him that he was not supposed to
touch my private parts and told him I would tell my mother. He threatened me saying that if I told my mother she would not
love me anymore and she would never want to see me again. I was terrified that my mother would react that way but I told
When I would tell my mother of his abuse she would write it off and she made me promise not to tell my father because
he would kill Gale and I would never see her again. I kept the secret of abuse from the ages of 10 to 14, until I finally
realized that my mother did not love me because if she did she would protect me. One day at school I told my P.E.
teacher about my mother and Gale and she filed a report. That same day my father was informed who also filed a report.
I will never forget the conversation I had with my father that night. We were in his room on his bed and he asked me
about the abuse and told me about what he had heard from the school and the police. I confirmed all that he said and
explained what had been happening over the past four years. For the first time in my life, I saw my father cry
uncontrollably. We held each other as we both cried throughout the night, and I realized that I had done the right thing by
finally speaking up. I thought it was finally over and I hoped that my life would get back on track.
I completed my interview with police quickly after and then I was asked to do a confrontation call in which my mother
threatened me saying that I could never tell my father about Gale because he would kill him, at this point she was
unaware it was reported. Gale then came on the line and admitted to everything he had done.
Soon after the call, both Gale and my mother were arrested and charged. My mother denied that I had ever told her
about the abuse and surprisingly Gale admitted to everything. My mother was released temporarily and during this time
she made phone calls to me, all of which are on tape, saying that I had instigated the abuse and repeatedly called me a
whore, slut, b*tch, and so on. I remember being completely destroyed by her words, crying myself to sleep every night.
Gale’s lawyers did not have his best interest at heart and were more interested in his money so they convinced him that
they could get him off regardless of his confessions if he went to trial. He was sentenced to 26 years after his trial and my
mother was given 5 years probation for felony charges of child neglect and endangerment.
HOW IT IMPACTED ME
As a result of my mother, Ben and Gale, I began cutting, gained an eating disorder, a drinking problem, suicide attempts,
and would constantly set myself up for failure. I saw myself as worthless and unlovable until I realized that what I went
through was not my fault and my mother was/is not normal. My father had taken me to counseling for many years but I
was not ready to deal with the trauma I had endured although it had helped me work through my cutting, eating disorder,
drinking problem, and suicide attempts. However, I still saw myself as a victim and was never able to move on with my life.
One day I realized that I could either be a victim, a survivor, or an inspiration and I needed to make a choice. I chose to
be an inspiration to others by telling my story and becoming a psychologist so that I would be able to help others who
were still struggling. I also put myself back into counseling which helped me work through my past and build my self-
esteem. While earning my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology I truly forgave my uncle, stepfather, and mother.
Finally being able to forgive those who have wronged me truly changed my life! Instead of feeling anger, resentment, and
hatred I now feel love, pity, empathy, and compassion. I am currently working on being able to see my uncle and
stepfather so that I can tell them of my forgiveness and encourage them to move on from the guilt and shame that they
have both admitted to feeling. I wish them the ability to feel happiness again at some point in their life and hope that they
do not die in jail. I want them to smell the flowers once again and feel grass beneath their feet. My wish is that they take
their time while incarcerated to dream big about their future and once they are released to stay out of trouble and make
their lives all that they dreamed of.
WHY I AM SPEAKING OUT IN THE "NO MORE SECRETS" CAMPAIGN
The "No More Secrets Campaign" is immensely important not only to me and other women, but to men who have been
abused as well. I feel this campaign is important to all victims of sexual abuse, rape, and incest. It is important that women
and men break their silence because until they acknowledge what happened to them they will never be able to face their
new sense of reality.
Until you acknowledge your past you are never truly acknowledging who you are, a survivor. When you speak up about
your abuse you are fighting back, you are saying that you are much more than what happened to you and it gives you
the ability to forgive, and inspire, and educate others.
MY WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT TO SEXUAL ABUSE SURVIVORS
Allow yourself to feel, no matter what those feelings are. It is okay to feel hate, to feel that it is your fault. You must allow
yourself to acknowledge your feelings so that you can work through them.
I felt like the abuse was my fault for many years and when I finally allowed myself to feel that way I was able to work
through it and realize it truly was out of my control. I also urge you to find somebody you feel you can be 100% honest
with, whether it be a family member, friend, counselor, etc.
It doesn’t matter who you decide to be open with at first, as long as you are talking about it. The journey to healing and
forgiveness will be difficult. It isn’t easy. You have to deal with emotions you didn’t know you had and you will be forced to
remember things that you try and push to the back of your mind, but the pain and the journey to healing and forgiveness
is worth it. I would not be where I am today if I did not allow myself to take that journey and through the process, I realized
things about myself that I love, and never saw before, and you will too.
You will learn your true strength, your true ability to love, and you will learn that although you may have lasting symptoms
from the abuse, those symptoms offer you insight into the world. For example, I have a hard time trusting others because
I faced evil head on for most of my life. However, my skepticism of others and constant observation allows me to see the
true beauty in the world and those who live in it. I often see things in others that nobody else sees because I watch
people so closely, and by seeing the beauty, it slowly starts to erase the evil, the ugly.
If you have been sexually violated and need to talk to someone, you can do so confidentially and safely with RAINN. Get
the help and support you need at 800-656-HOPE or visit
Sharaya (Payton) Aldana was seven years
old when her whole life changed.
When she should have been playing with
Barbie dolls and dreaming about being a
princess, she was faced with evil for the first
First a relative and later, her mother's
boyfriend sexually assaulted her. But through
therapy and forgiveness, she has picked up
the pieces and is now helping others.
This is her story in her own words.
The "No More Secrets" campaign is sharing the stories of courageous women who survived sexual assault
and are now using their voices to let other survivors know, they are not alone. Warning: Readers may find
sexually graphic details extremely disturbing
|© 2015 EEW Magazine. All rights reserved. Award-winning urban faith-based media specialist Dianna Hobbs has launched the “No More
Secrets” nonprofit campaign to make it safe for sexual abuse survivors to open up.
DISCLAIMER: The personal accounts of sexual violence you see on DontKeepSecrets.org were voluntarily submitted by participants in the
national “No More Secrets” campaign. These descriptions are based on their individual experiences and memories. EEW Magazine and
RAINN shall not be held liable for any statements, views or information shared. Testimonies do not necessarily reflect the views of EEW,
RAINN, Lamp Mode Recordings, or any agents or affiliated organizations