May The Little Girl In Us Find Her Healing

Karen Quiñones-Axalan

I groped for words as I read the Breaking The Silence stories of my World Pulse sisters. My heart felt like being hammered by a thousand nails, it bled profusely. I wept bitterly for every girl who silently suffered the trauma, and now become a wounded woman because of a scarred past.

In my mind, I was screaming, "Why?!? Why are women treated as sexual objects by haughty insecure men who are unapologetic to conquer a little girl's body? Why is the woman shamed when she bravely tells her truth? Why does the society place the condemnation on the woman who revealed her tragic story and let the molester, the rapist, the perpetrator get away easily? And even after these traumatic childhood experiences, the world still expects these women to be good wives and better mothers without taking into account that the wounded girls inside them are still screaming for help. They all wanted to heal!"

We all silently scream for healing. For justice. For apologies from the men who stained our sacred bodies, and from the men who did nothing to prevent it.

I am not a rape victim. But I know women who are. And I feel strong emotions against rape and all forms of sexual abuse because I have seen what it does to a woman's psychology. Each coped differently, but one thing is common: it takes years to heal.

My #MeToo story is not a physical penetration by men. It is about how our male adult neighbor invited the four-year-old me to sleep beside him in a hammock. Innocently, I joined him. He demanded that I sleep immediately, but I couldn't. It was daytime, supposedly, my playtime. But his voice sounded pissed.

Frightened that he'll report me as being a bad girl to my mother who would spank me hard, I pretended to close my eyes. Then his hands explored my body, and one hand stayed inside my underwear for a long time. I did not know how it ended. My memory escapes me.

My #MeToo story is about a male teacher aide who secretly kissed the nine-year-old me while no one was looking. As to how many times he did it within a school year, I could no longer recall. Back then, I thought it was alright for a teacher to kiss a student, just like a parent kisses a child. I felt awkward and confused for being singled out. I told no one.

My #MeToo story is about an adult stranger who followed the ten-year-old me as I walked on my way home. It was night. His face covered with shirt, I could only remember the red in his eyes. He caught me at the darkest spot in our village. His strong hands captured my frail shivering shoulder. What followed was a slow motion of caressing the sensitive parts of my body beginning from my blossoming bossom going downward.

By this age, I knew about rape cases based on the evening news. So my mind was racing, " he caught me. He is so big and strong. He might rape me".

Together with a cry of prayer, I screamed my loudest shriek hoping someone or Someone would hear me. The man was startled, he hurriedly left.

As soon as I got home, I rushed to the kitchen to get a knife for defense as I tried to catch my breath. I still felt he was following me. That night and many nights after, nightmares on that man awakened me from my needed rest. Because I did not know who he was-- until today I have no idea who he is--, I viewed all men who possessed the same body built as suspects. Eventually, I hated every man.

I felt shame that it happened to me. It didn't help that I was scorned because of it. I loathed being a woman.To protect myself, I wore loose clothings so I would no longer attract men's attention. I felt disrespected when men from the streets catcalled me, or even when they wanted to introduce themselves to me. I usually gave them my angry stare. Deep inside, I wished I were a boy instead. And so I wore male clothes, and detested anything feminine.

That incident made me kept on guard by not talking to strangers. It also became my reference when women confessed to me their "please don't tell anyone" rape stories. So when a friend told me that her uncle raped her, my initial reaction was to immediately hug her and I wept with her.

From then on, I listened to another friend as shared she was raped by her grandfather, then later by her cousins. And another friend who revealed what her uncle did to her while her aunt was at work.Then recently, a young lady sent me a text message that she too was a rape victim committed by her cousin.

When the #MeToo story broke out across the digital world, none of us shared our stories. If I were to search #MeToo on Facebook, only one among my network was courageous enough to share it. She is a professor, and a writer. The rest was silent just as I was.

Perhaps because ours is a Christian nation who preaches we must forgive those who have sinned against us and to leave room for God's anger. We are told to forgive and forget without helping us process the experience. We are shamed and scorned for "not moving on". Instead, we fall as topics on the mouth of gossipers. So the girls who secretly cry for justice deal with it alone, putting an "I'm ok" mask while inside her she is actually screaming, "please help me."

What we didn't know by staying silent meant we could perpetuate these lascivous acts. We might not be the only victims of those men.

My #MeToo story did not end at 10 years old. Because no matter how careful and guarded I had been, there are men who think they are superior over women. There are still many tales to tell. Of men in high places with seemingly blameless reputations, but in the secret they reveal their demons.

I am still apalled to the core that the baby girls the world once awaited to arrive, and whose smiles brigthened our days became broken women of today. Sexual abuse is just one aspect.

How long will this atrocious injustice end?

How many more daughters, sisters, cousins, friends tremble at their sleep, frightened that their private spaces will be invaded by monsters?

How can we protect our newborn daughters from the scheming men in sheep's clothing who wait for us to let down our guards so they can attack?

So I am joining the rest of the women of the world as we scream our loudest shriek, hopefully loud enough to scare these contemptible men.

And to the rest of the girls and women of the world who share the same Breaking the Silence stories of our World Pulse sisters, my message is:

It is NOT right that men took advantage of you.

It is NOT your fault that this tragic thing happened to you. The shame must be placed to the audacious perpetrators and never on you.

It is NOT right that you were thrown away or neglected or excommunicated for telling your truth.

It is NOT right that your feelings were invalidated.

You are not less of a woman because this happened to you. Those men might have touched you physically, but the essence within you that defines you as a woman stays intact.

You are a woman because of your purity, your resilience, your strength, your ability to heal from within, and your power to bring healing to others as well.

Your essence as a woman is a combination of your gentleness to those who are wounded like you, and your bravery to speak your truth and to stand up for justice.

So celebrate the woman that you are because your identity is not defined by what other people did to you, but how you discover the well of wealth that is springing within you.

Arise, and use your uniqueness and creativity as you reach out to other woman. For a woman's power is finding healing in the process of loving others as she loves herself.

Happy International Woman's Day!

P.S. Reposting this in solidarity with my World Pulse Sisters.

This post was submitted in response to You Are a Silence Breaker..

Comments 43

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  • Evelyn Fonkem
    Mar 08
    Mar 08

    Thanks Karen beautiful piece

  • Thank you for reading, Evelyn. Happy International Women's Day!

  • jlanghus
    Mar 08
    Mar 08

    Hi Karen. What an awesome, heartfelt piece. I agree. That almost every one of us has similar stories to share, unfortunately. Every one of us on the planet has the right to speak up, be heard and to tell our stories. But also every one has on the planet has the right to freedom and joy, and so that means every one needs to be raised with integrity and respect for every one here, on this planet.

  • Thank you again, Jill, for reading. I agree with you. There are still so many stories to unload. Writing this piece brings another level of healing, especially when women like you bring encouragement.

    This makes me want to encourage our World Pulse sisters more, just like how you consistently do it. Thank you for being an awesome sister, Jill!

  • jlanghus
    Mar 08
    Mar 08

    You're welcome:) I'm glad it helped you, and it will help others who read it, too. Sounds great to me. We could use more Encouragers! Thanks again for your awesome feedback. I appreciate you!

  • Just because a woman has been hurt by all the abuses she endures through patriarchy, does not demote her to a little girl. We can be in the process of healing and still be grown, complete women.

  • Hello, Jennifer, I agree.

    Yes, we can all heal. And it is my desire that every wounded person can find healing just as what I wrote above. Just to clarify, it never was my intention to demote women into little girls.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  • Anne McCaw
    Mar 08
    Mar 08

    Karen, I want to honor and applaud your compassion, your courage, and and your large heart. You have been through so much. I am in awe of the strength you have found and the determination to be there for other women. Itʻs what I aspire to. You are a role model and a hero. Thank you for making the world a safer place by being a safe place for women to tell their stories.

  • Hello, Anne,

    I treasure every word you wrote here. This is only a little part of my story. The rest is still too difficult to share. Yes, I have been through so much that I had bouts of recurrent depression.

    But those pain and struggles allow me to emphathize with other women so I am grateful now for those experiences.

    Thank you for encouraging. It means a lot!

  • linea
    Mar 08
    Mar 08

    Sending you Much Love for your courage in sharing your experiences to break through the seal of shame. And much admiration for your strength in connecting with Who You Are that shines brilliantly as a beacon for others who are finding their way out of tge darkness _()_ ((HUG))

  • Hello, Linea,

    Thank you for reading.

    I draw out the courage from the bravery of the World Pulse sisters who broke their silence and shared their experiences.

    Everything I've been through is all by God's grace, and that is where I find my strength. It is my desire that all wounded people eventually find their healing.

    Thank you for your beautiful words.

  • Mary Ero
    Mar 08
    Mar 08

    I can only applaud you, my sister. Nothing more to add. This is true, necessary and honest.

  • Thank you, dear sister, for reading. I have read your story. I applaud you, too.

  • Valéria Barbosa
    Mar 08
    Mar 08

    1630/5000
    Dear sister, thank you for sharing your story. I admire your strength and courage.
    I am participating in a book about sexual violence of a teacher, here in Brazil, my participation is with a poetry.

    I leave to you as my affection my poetry.

    Not authorized. Valéria Barbosa

    And there she went, with her yellow skirt, made of filó, underneath a flowery fabric not allowing transparency to photograph her thighs.
    And there she was, with her lipstick the color of blood, moistening glances and scaring secrets.
    And there she went, walking slowly, with her own way of walking, the street is her catwalk.
    And there she went, in a thrashing, very cheeky way, a girl growing up, and there she went, just to move.
    Stumbles in the shards, dropped by the other, stumbles on their tastes, their internal illnesses.
    And she does not look, is in her navel, is it a punishment to be well with you?
    And he finds himself the owner of the street, the owner of the skirt, the owner of the blood, and wants to appropriate what does not belong to him, that is in the other because it is only hers.
    And there she went, all in her own, giving neither to the moon messages or desires, with slight steps to be master of herself.
    And there she went, happy to live, wanting more to be happy. Beautiful for existing, for wanting.
    He stumbles on the stones that the other has arranged on his road when he sighted her, and she collapses and rips the edge, blood pours in the sand of the street, and all naked dies in the prison of aggression.
    And even in the well of tears of the end, finds strength within.
    And there she goes, to a police station, with her face covered, her life torn in filó, in a constant incognito: can I be what I want or need to go out on the streets covered by a blanket?

  • Oh wow, wow, wow! I love every word in your poetry, dear sister Valéria! It leaves me with goosebumps!

    Thank you! I treasure this work of art that you share to me. I am so honored that you post it here. I will keep it with me forever.

    We can be what we want and who we are because there are women who support women! Thank you, Sister! Thank you for your beautiful masterpiece!

  • Anne Dupont
    Mar 08
    Mar 08

    Amen, sister! This piece is beautifully written—you have a powerful voice! Thank you for your strength and courage in sharing your story and voice and encouraging other women to find theirs. We can’t ever let up—there is such strength in numbers and women coming forward with their stories. Together, we WILL change the world!

    With love,

    Anne

  • Hello, Anne,

    Thank you for reading. I agree that we are growing in numbers; thus, we are growing in strength. Yes, we will change the world!

  • Sandy Ibrahim
    Mar 08
    Mar 08

    I am so honored to read your powerful words Karen. I am in awe and sending you a big hug from Canada. Today, you are my personal hero. Happy International Women's day.

  • Oh wow, thank you for reading, Sandy. I am honored to be called a hero by you.
    Hug, too!

    Happy International Women's Day!

  • sima
    Mar 08
    Mar 08

    Beautifully written. Heartbreaking words that make my heart ache for you and the millions of women out there that are hurting. Keep healing and writing.

    Thank you for sharing.

  • Thank you for reading, Sima. I share my heart, together with the women I knew who are victims of rape and sexual violence. Yes, there are more stories to write.

    Thank you so much for encouraging.

  • janetgu3
    Mar 09
    Mar 09

    Your story touched me. I hope it was healing for you to share. You are a brilliant writer!
    Janet

  • Hello, Janet,

    I thought I moved on and healed as I buried that past, simply forgetting it happened. Writing it here allowed me to detach my adult self to my younger self. It become very emotional writing it, and the moment I published it, there was release and relief. Yes, I found healing.

    I love to write so I am so humbled by your compliment

    Thank you for reading!

  • Tamarack Verrall
    Mar 09
    Mar 09

    Dear Karen,

    Your story adds volumes to #MeToo and your words to women and girls who have been violated are a poem of power and beauty. I could imagine it being read by individuals and in groups, igniting story telling, releasing long held doubts and fear. I hope you will send it far and wide. You are a beautiful writer, and have transformed so much of what happened, to words that have healing power.

  • Awww. Thank for reading, Tam. I had often wish someone told me these words when I was growing up so I could defeat all the self-doubt and insecurity. So I felt maybe some women need to hear these words, too.

    Thank you for your uplifting words of encouragement!

  • Lily Habesha
    Mar 10
    Mar 10

    Karen,
    Thank you for sharing your story. You really break the silence and opened the way to other sisters in your country. I'm glad your read my story and got encouraged to write yours.

    Keep speaking up and louder.

    We've to ashamed the rapists and child molesters.

    Lily

  • Yes, Lily. Your story inspired me to write this piece. Thank you for being a brave warrior. Stay courageous. You will inspire more women.

    I honor you.

  • bukkystars
    Mar 10
    Mar 10

    This is a beautiful piece.. It summarizes everything. Growing up was the most difficult. There will always be men, boys, uncles, men we call daddy, even teachers and Pastors around us.. I pray always for my two daughters.... May God heal the world....

  • Thank you for reading, BukkyStars. True. I once asked my mother to enroll me to a Karate class. I wanted to learn self-defense. But she didn't take it seriously.

    I know of cases where Pastors too commit this kind of act. Yes, let us protect and pray for our girls.

  • frederike
    Mar 10
    Mar 10

    Dear Karen, Sister in Soul and in Experience,...

    Here is what ‘I’ write to you:
    ‘You are a woman because of your purity, your resilience, your strength, your ability to heal from within, and your power to bring healing to others as well.’

    Your own words,... immensely powerful,.... I hope you can apply them for yourself too!! I pray you can !!

    Love
    Frederike

  • Thank you, Frederike. Yes, this is a daily reminder to me. :)

  • Naheda Shaikh
    Mar 11
    Mar 11

    Hey Karen,
    Thank you for sharing, most of the women having kind of experience, we are in better situation now, but some are still struggling, I always prey for that sister.
    You are too strong and bare all this.

    Love
    Naheda

  • Hello, Naheda,

    Thank you for reading. This post is in solidarity to our sisters who are still struggling and who are in the process of healing. :)

    Thank you for your encouragement.

  • Sarah Sofia
    Mar 12
    Mar 12

    Thank you Karen for such a wonderful piece with powerful words of encouragement and healing.
    Love
    Sabdio

  • Hello, Sabdio,

    Thank you for reading. It is always my plrasure to inspire and encourage with words. I am glad that found this piece wonderful. Please share it to women who need such encouragement, too.

    Love from the Philippines!

  • Maria Juana
    Mar 14
    Mar 14

    Thank you for this beautiful piece Ate Kaye. It's not easy. It also take courage to tell the world on what you were going through that times. It takes many years to be healed. I feel you for some.

  • Hello, Maria Juana,

    I am glad to see you in World Pulse. There are so many stories that are yet to be written. This is just a piece of a more complicated plot in my life's story. But God makes all things beautiful in its time.

    I am waiting and am looking forward to reading your story here. There is healing when we share a piece of truth in our life. Please start sharing your story to release what it waiting to be unleashed within you. It is empowering.

    Thank you for reading. :)

  • Cheyenne Summer
    Mar 19
    Mar 19

    So many of us have been sexualized not only as women but as young girls. My biggest pet peeve is when someone blames the victim about what they were wearing but how can a little girl be sexualized? I will never understand.

  • Hello, Cheyenne,

    That is true. The victims in our country remain silent because of it. Even today, I am encouraging them to speak out but they say they are not ready or it is no longer necessary.

    Thank you for reading.

  • Dayanara
    Mar 20
    Mar 20

    Thank you for sharing your stories. I say stories cause there are many inside of us all the little girls inside us have their own story. thank you for letting them all speak!

  • Thank you for taking time to read, Dayanara. Yes, we all have stories as little girls, a mix of goo and bad. These stories shape who we are now as adults.

    Thanks again!

  • Katalina
    Mar 26
    Mar 26

    This is quite a story. Blessings on you! Katalina

  • Thank you taking time to read, Katalina. Blessings on you, too!