Dear Rhonda & Dr. Cheri: Sexual assault at Christmastime
Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
My brother’s friend did sexual things to me against my will. He threatened me, if I tell on him. No one else was home, except him.
He’s been at our house alone with me lots of times before and nothing ever happened. He’s been my brother’s friend forever.
I’m 13 and I’ve never been sexual with anyone. Was I raped? I took a shower afterward. I know you’re not supposed to do that, but I was crying and I have bruises.
I’m scared to tell my family. They won’t believe me. My family knows I’ve had a crush on him.
He said he’d hurt my family if I told anyone. I’m so depressed.
I also don’t want to ruin Christmas for everyone.
You’re the victim, and we’re so sorry. Sexual assault may create trauma for you and last well into your future, Christmastime or not.
Sexual assault means any unwanted or forced sexual activity done to you by manipulation, coercion, or force, and may include molestation, rape, incest, and sexual abuse. It’s a crime and an act of violence.
Just because you showered doesn’t mean you don’t have evidence of his attack. Get pictures of your bruises immediately.
Abusers commonly use threats and fear tactics. Your abuser is counting on your fear … fear that your family won’t believe you or they may be harmed. If your family doesn’t believe you, still report his actions to the police.
Your attacker is also trying to use your attraction to him as a shame factor. You’ve done nothing to deserve any violence or sexual attack. Don’t let anyone shame you for being attracted to your brother’s friend. You are innocent and he’s the criminal.
This is a horrific offense and needs to be told now. Don’t wait until after the holidays. It could easily happen again to you or others.
As difficult as it feels to you, stand tall and have direct eye contact when telling your family members. And when you appear before your attacker in court, don’t have eye contact with him. He’ll likely try to intimidate you.
You didn’t choose to be a victim, but you can choose not to stay one. It takes heroic courage to report this kind of maltreatment. We encourage you to be your own hero.
Advocate for yourself because it will help you heal emotionally and you’ll be a great example to others. Also, remember this, sexual violence usually increases around the holidays. You can still be strong and stand tall against this wrong.
Our prayers are with you.
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri
Rhonda Orr is the president and founder of the Prescott-based Rhonda’s STOP BULLYING Foundation. Dr. Cheri L. McDonald, PhD, LMFT, is a crime-victim specialist. Send your anonymous questions to Rhonda@rhondastopbullying.org. Join our 100th podcast celebration at BullyingLifeandStuff.com.