Updated: Mar 25
In order to help empower trauma warriors into sharing their stories, the founders of Origin Papers have decided to share their stories with you.
Things went from reality to walking dream and then back to crushing reality. I am 25 and it took me over a decade to be able to say this without doubt; doubt in myself or doubt in the acceptance of my loved ones. I was sexually assaulted as a child.
I used to live a life that was sometimes purposefully detached from my culture,(think frank ocean "super rich kids.") Whether it was due to economic means or world view, we - my immediate family - were different from our relatives. They lived in Uganda and we lived wherever dad's work would take us, although we were fortunate to have the ability to go back home every summer. I used to love it, despite summers in Uganda being long and hot, averaging 30 Celsius with oppressive rolling power cuts to make things interesting. I remember being so scared to go to the bathroom when the power was out, that I had to get my brothers to escort me with a flashlight on a regular basis. But I also remember the double sided DVDs or VCDs, or the 50 in 1 DVDs you could buy off the street. I remember the roasted meat and grasshoppers my dad would buy through the car window. Most nights it would serve as that evening's popcorn as the adults would be outside having drinks while the kids would watch a movie. I loved it.
There were years of my life where I would give in to curiosity and someone who I believed wanted the greatest good for me would take advantage of my innocence.
My favorite movie was Aladdin because princess Jasmine was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. He fell for her, he fought for her, and that was the first time I really understood and was consumed with the idea of a kiss, and forbidden love. It was an introduction. There were other influences but Aladdin and one other stuck, it was from some cheesy 90s' movie but the gist was a young person who had a crush on someone and would call them over by saying
“I have a secret.”
They would lean in to hear the secret, expose their ear as is custom, and the person telling the secret actually plants a kiss on their unsuspecting cheek. I used to love to do this to the people I loved. If it was my mom, my two brothers, my two sisters or an aunt who was looking after me for an afternoon, it seemed cute and harmless at the time, surprising at best. Or- make a girl cry on the playground- at worst. Somewhat cringe worthy through the lens of 2019 but life has a unique ability to seem poetic and chaotic all at once.
The idea is that I would make a sneaky incursion into your privacy, I'd flip the script because im the one who's meant to be vulnerable, I'm telling a secret, but in coming to receive the secret you make yourself vulnerable. Comedy gold to my little brain. I got a kick out of it and would really wind up for a kiss and plant that thing on your cheek, bump my five-head against your temple. Someone who to me was a source of comfort once corrupted that in one clean motion, the ultimate flip of the script.
One day they reminded me that I hadn't told them a secret for a while, and I was a talkative kid so that would be hard to imagine, but fearing for their lack of juicy toddler gibberish I obliged. I told them to come step into my office (behind a door), and ask them to get closer and lower so they could hear. I cupped my hands around my mouth in protection against the lip readers clamoring for my secrets.
For some reason they don't turn their head and expose their ear, instead their head stays dead on so we were making eye contact as I told the secret. They then initiated the rest of the gag by sticking their tongue into my mouth.
I have always struggled to remember how old I was when it started but I would guess 4, I definitely remember when it stopped. I was 12.
I guess another one of my relatives became aware or simply had their own plans to begin with but there was more that life had planned. It was one of the summer nights where everyone was enjoying the warm air and the family was together. I can't say much more than that because I can't remember exactly where we were or how old I was but no older than 10. What I do recall is the line of cars all parked side by side. The fires’ glow was bouncing, reflecting off the side panels and metal curves of the four doors that surround us. Two doors on the left and two on the right as we stood. He had called me over and I had no reason to be suspicious.
Even now I can't say what happened because for so many years my brain had turned this night into a dreamlike scene. I would have visual flashes and other sensory recall experiences. And as I'm typing this it hits me that it sounds like PTSD but I’m not a doctor so I'll call it trauma.
I would smell what I described as "hot trash" every time I saw or thought about two men being intimate. Fucking awful, right? The idea of having a male friend be physically close in proximity to me was difficult. I now realize that "hot trash" was the best I could do to describe the bad breath of an older drunk male. Imagine that every time I saw male on male affection, I would see his face approaching mine and I was triggered. I hated feeling this way so I would avoid and denigrate media related to male on male sexuality, and it wasn't hard, but it was ultimately against what I have always believed, that the more people being their truest selves we have the better the world gets. despite this I would get lost in this deep hate once triggered. I would have to pull myself from this darkness and back to loving people so quickly to avoid worrying my family, I didn't want us to break apart because of accusations. We were already the Westerners of the clan so how could I be so soft that I let a man kiss me (despite being a child), Ugandans seem to value stoicism highly. It would be chalked up to weakness or I’d simply be labeled as gay and a liar. All I could muster was telling my parents how much I didn't want to go to that particular relatives house. How I used to hate and dread going back to Uganda on the off chance that we would be staying with them. This wasn't the only incident or the worst but it was what crystallized my fear and pain. I wish I had talked about this sooner so that I remembered more but memory is a tricky thing. Just today I was walking for my coffee and I was asking myself if I was making a big deal out of nothing, a mountain out of a molehill, being a "pussy". I was thinking about how cowardly I sometimes feel talking about it now that it's okay because of #metoo; and how this time last year I was ready to die with this never leaving me lips. I even doubt if I'm not just twisting a vague memory for social currency. I do not feel brave, I am so afraid of what it means to put this out there but I do feel supported and I guess that means I’ll be okay.
"Don't Hesitate to Create"