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Tracy Collymore was between and five and
six years old when her stepfather stripped
away her innocence.
The abuse continued until she was 14 years
old -- something she didn't dare to admit to her
But the ugly secret tore her up inside, leading
to deeply-rooted issues of anxiety, until she
realized she had to get help and speak out.
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
I was around five or six when I was first violated by my stepfather all the way until I was 14.
He told me that if I told anyone, I would break my mother’s heart.
Because of the love I had for my mother, the last thing I wanted to do was break her heart. As as child, I didn’t
understand that “I” wouldn’t break her heart, though. I was also scared and ashamed, but more than anything, it was
because he told me I would break my mother’s heart and I just loved her too much to do that.
My stepfather would start off tickling and playing and then a little oops. Then it got more touchy-touchy and moved to
fondling. He would come into my room late at night when my mom was asleep. He would tell me I could have something
to eat if I let him do this or that to me. How could you ask a child to let you touch them in their most private area? He did,
and he wouldn't take no for an answer. He was very calculating and manipulative. I would feel “wet” stuff on me.
As a child this is what I called it.
I didn’t know what it was. I was innocent with no clue as to what exactly he was doing to my body. My mother would
always ask me has anyone touched me and she would tell me if anyone ever touch me here, pointing to my breast or
there, pointing to my vagina, to tell her. But the fear overshadowed my abuse. My mother would also tell me that if I told
her someone touched me, she would go to jail because she would kill them. I didn’t want my mother to go to jail. I
expressed above how much I loved my mother so the thought of her being in jail drove me into a deeper silence.
So I went along with it. I played the part. I lied and told her no one ever touched me. I told her I would tell her if they did. I
did whatever I had to do so that she wouldn’t suspect anything. But all the while, I was mortified-- mortified this was
happening to me and at the same time, mortified that I couldn’t say anything.
My family members would make comments to me about my body and how I was developing so rapidly. Little did they know
my development was because of abuse. I’m still large-breasted and it used to be a reminder of what happened to me. I
used to be embarrassed about my breasts and wished he never would have touched them and maybe they
wouldn’t be so big.
But I’ve embraced them. It’s a part of my story, a part of who I am. And instead of it reminding me of my abuse, it reminds
me how victorious I am.
When I called on God at 14 and couldn’t take it anymore, God delivered me. My faith was strong in God at an early age
because I know without a doubt that he kept me and he delivered me when I cried out in earnest prayer to him.
I was 18 when I finally I shared what happened with my husband who was my fiancé at the time. I did not want to start my
marriage in a lie. I never considered telling my mother. But once I told him, he told me I had to tell my mother. It was one
of the hardest thing I ever had to do.
HOW IT IMPACTED ME
It impacted me greatly. I developed anxiety at a very young age. This anxiety came to a head last year. I was crippled. I
couldn’t go to the grocery store. I couldn’t converse with people. I couldn’t do anything. I barely existed. It was then I
realized the root of my anxiety and decided to get help.
On the emotional side, I felt it was my fault for a very long time. I felt ashamed, I felt embarrassed. It took a while for me to
understand and accept that I did nothing wrong. He was wrong. He was the adult and his actions towards me were
wrong. For a long time I was embarrassed to talk about it. I would have never considered sharing my story. But here’s
the spiritual side. A few years ago, I hosted an event for my women’s ministry and God told me I had to share my
testimony. It sent me into panic and anxiety. My friend’s mother had to come in the back and pray for me and tell me to
breathe, and calm down.
I not only had to share my testimony, but I had to share it for the first time in front of my mother and my sisters. It was
truly hard, but what God did for me as a result was a huge blessing. And remembering God delivering me from the hands
of my abuser encouraged me even more. How could I not tell my story? Even though I suffered, God still carried me and
he delivered me.
My faith has been strong since the age of 14 because I saw what God did for me. He removed this man out of my life so
quick. Some might say how was it "quick" if you were molested for so many years? But when I prayed an earnest prayer
and cried out to the Lord, and told him I truly couldn’t take it anymore, God took him out of my life 2 weeks later.
The night I prayed was the last night he touched me!
That deliverance has been the foundation of my faith in God. I saw him work in my life at the age of 14.
WHY I AM SPEAKING OUT IN THE "NO MORE SECRETS" CAMPAIGN
Women need to break their silence because they will realize they are not alone. Once I talked about what happened to
me, I had three of my close friends to open up and share with me that the same thing happened to them. I have been
amazed by how many women have suffered this abuse, suffered in silence as I did. But, because of dialogue, they were
able to open up and share their story. By sharing you can begin to heal.
MY WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT TO SEXUAL ABUSE SURVIVORS
Embrace your feelings. It’s a part of the healing process. It’s okay to question it. It’s okay to hurt, because somebody
violated you and your body. But the one word that made me realize that I couldn’t stay there was “Victim”. I had no choice
in being a victim as a child. He manipulated and did whatever he had to do to violate me.
As a child, I “WAS” a “VICTIM” of child molestation. But as an adult I chose to be a “SURVIVOR”.
I told myself that if I did not forgive and let it go, I would give him that same power he had over me as a child and by doing
that I would continue to allow myself to be abused as an adult. I wanted my power back. I needed my power back. So I
chose to forgive and I chose to release the hurt and all the other feelings I carried.
I chose to be a survivor instead of a victim. What I mean by that is I didn’t make the excuses anymore that I’m this way
because I was molested, I can’t love because I was molested and all the other negative things we embrace and accept
because of what we experienced.
I want to live a full life and I refuse to let that no-good-for-nothing take anything more from me than he already had. And
that’s what I tell other women when I talk about child molestation with them. Don’t give him/her the power to still be able to
victimize you as an adult. Once you take your power back you will be amazed by the strength you had then and the
strength you know that you have now.
|© 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,
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