When I was six years old, I became a victim of child molestation. The atrocious acts continued for close to a year, before my mother discovered the horrible secret and put an end to the nightmare... or so I thought. Let me tell you how, for most of my adult life, I've continued to allow myself to remain a victim to the crimes committed against me, and let me tell you how, after three decades, I'm a victim no more.

It's a sad and disturbing fact that my earliest memories of my sister, and my first sexual experiences, are one in the same. These painful memories are fragments and often attack me in the form of vivid flashbacks. It's happening now, as I write this. I can see the horrific images in my mind's eye as if I witnessed them through an out of body experience... I often wonder if I did.

Throughout my entire adult life I've been plagued by a terrible mental slide-show, playing on a continuous loop. When I'm at my worst, knee-deep in one of my vicious Cycles, my haunted past can be debilitating and make functioning in public close to impossible. It's hard to carry on conversations with people while your troubled mind flips through the pages of a pornographic family photo album inside your head.

"Are you even listening to me?" Ask annoyed people, who catch on to the fact that I'm definitely not listening to them. They can't know that I'm not present, because I can see myself pressed against my sister a lifetime ago. I can feel the anguish and despair as if it's happening to me right then and there. Sometimes I can shake it off, and apologize for being rude, and sometimes I can't.

My sister did a lot of damage.

I know its normal for older siblings to torment the younger ones. The problem was there was no balance. Much like my relationship with my father, virtually every interaction I had with my sister was a negative experience.

I lost hope for my father's love early on, but I thought I could eventually win my sister over if I tried hard enough.
She loved our dad's side of the family and they loved her too. She always went to visit his mom and brothers with him. I was personally uncomfortable around them, especially my uncles, and I usually avoided going unless my mom went too.

I was right to be leery of my uncles, but my sister had to find out the hard way. One of them sexually assaulted her in the shed behind our grandmother's house. This undoubtedly changed the course of her life, and in a few short years, she would pass the burden on to her six-year-old brother.

I despise my uncle for the perverse atrocity he committed against his own niece. I understand it's the reason behind what she did to me, but I also understand there's a big difference between a reason and an excuse. Nothing will ever excuse what she did to me, just like nothing will ever excuse what he did to her, and once you cross the line between being a victim and being a violator there's no going back.

I can close my eyes, and be right back in her bedroom... or the basement, as if I had a time machine fueled by the power of pain and suffering. She wanted me to be her "practice boyfriend," that's what she told me. It would be a new game for us. I didn't understand, and the more it progressed the more it felt gross and wrong.

I was torn.

I had always wanted my big sister to play with me and spend time with me, but I didn't like her games, which were escalating in a horrifying direction. After a while, I became increasingly difficult to coerce, and she'd bribe me by playing with my toys in exchange for doing what she wanted after. If that didn't work, she'd threaten to unleash our father's wrath on me, and tell him our secret.

"Dad will kill you if he finds out you're a filthy little perv." She'd warn. "He already hates you. I'll tell him you touched me like a little pervert, and he'll kill you for sure!"

"But... it's always you're idea." I'd mumble.

"You know it doesn't matter 'cause he won't even listen to you, and if he did, he'd just think you were a liar too. Then he'll kill you twice." She had a solid argument as far as I was concerned. Mom would believe me, but it wouldn't matter. If my daddy were that mad he'd probably end up killing her too, if she got in his way.

"Come on already! Just let me do it and get it over with!" She said impatiently.

"o.k.," I whispered.

On occasion, she would say things along the lines of... "Aren't you glad we're finally getting along after all this time?" Comments like that really messed with my head. She manipulated my emotions and made me feel like I was as willing a participant as her. After a while, I was convinced I'd be in just as much trouble as she was if our secret saw the light of day. Irrational guilt, shame, and fear tortured me from the inside out.

It became twisted and convoluted, with her acting as if she were doing me a favor with these unnatural acts. I started to believe it was my dirty little secret! I was six years old, and I spent nights lying awake in bed, trying to figure out what was wrong with me!

Eventually, our secret was discovered, and my sister moved out of our house shortly after that. I did my best to bury the memory in my young mind, and fit in with the kids who hadn't had intercourse with their siblings. Unfortunately, I received no counseling or therapy to help me deal with the confusion I felt. Everyone just wanted to act like it never happened, and as a six-year old boy, I followed suit.

After struggling with these memories like so many victims do, for most of my life, I've finally realized that I was only a victim during the acts themselves. Since then, Ive remained a victim by my own free will... but no more. I won't use these memories to hurt myself any longer.

I've finally accepted the fact that my sister, though seven years older than me, was just a child too. There's no way she could have known the repercussions of her actions, and I'm quite sure she was just as confused about what she was doing as I was. I forgive her completely, and letting go of the hatred I've carried for her all these years has been a crucial factor in my ultimate healing.

I'm a grown man now, no longer trapped in my sister's bedroom. I survived that ordeal and, in time, it's nurtured my abilities to understand and forgive. These are positive ideas that I can extract from the pain, and bring with me into the future. The negative aspects are useless to me and I've finally been able to shed their weight and leave them in the past where they belong.

Author's Bio: 

Nathan Daniels lives with psychological disorders including Agoraphobia, Borderline Personality Disorder, Insomnia, and OCD. Abused in his youth, orphaned and homeless as a teenager, he became self-abusive and suicidal as an adult. Against all odds he has survived, and now advocates for suicide prevention and awareness through his writing. His new book, Surviving the Fourth Cycle, is a uniquely-told true story about overcoming suicide, for anyone affected by the harsh realities of mental illness. For more information, visit...