After years of silence, I broke free from the control I allowed someone to have over my life, emotions, and my mental state. I was the then-15-year-old victim involved in the Alexander Sean Gerbert case.
Now, at age 21, I relived the familiar feelings of shame, embarrassment, and guilt; not only as I testified on stand, but after reading the article published earlier that day about the ongoing trial. I was consumed with anger at the way the details of the case had been released. I didn’t want the specifics of the case or my past to be known.
When the anger abandoned me, I was left with a deep sadness. I strongly felt as though people reading that article or articles who had also experienced unsaid rape or molestation, would feel discouraged to speak out. The sadness reminded me of how many times I wanted to speak up in the past, and that there are victims out there who still have not done so. I know many victims do not ever come forward regarding molestation/rape due not only to feelings of shame and embarrassment, but the fact of people just knowing everything about this trauma. It is very difficult to cope with.
The fear that filled me as a child was that I wouldn’t be his only victim. I never imagined the next known victim would be my sister. My younger sister had the strength to speak up. I was amazed and inspired to admit the things that happened to me as a child as well. I still feel guilt that I didn’t tell anyone years ago and possibly prevented what happened to her. But I cannot change the past.
Reality is - there are cruel people everywhere. There’s a fire lit in me to encourage victims everywhere to speak out. Don’t worry about who will or won’t believe you. I believe the responsibility of a victim is to tell their story, tell the truth, and accept the support others are willing to give them. Through happy tears, I’ll admit, I feel stronger and more confident than ever before!