"You lead older men on."

When I was 15, I was stalked, molested, and sexually assaulted by a 46 year old man who my parents were good friends with.

I tried to keep everything hush hush because it was humiliating, but my parents found out and confronted me about it. My father was sobbing and trying to understand what happened. My mother was furious and drilled me with questions. 

The whole scene ended with my dad and me sobbing together while my mom yelled, "I never thought my 15 year old daughter would be a whore. You lead older men on. On purpose!" 

To this day, I struggle to have a relationship with her. It is swept under the rug. We don't speak of it. 

I will always feel betrayed.

"You are not smart or pretty enough."

Growing up, my teachers were the root of my low self-esteem. I was dyslexic, and they would actually make fun of me in front of other students. 

I wanted to try out for a public speaking organization, but as soon as I stood up, one of my teachers told me, "You are not smart or pretty enough to compete in public speaking. You need to go back to your seat and sit quietly while the students who actually have a shot at winning try out. Try losing 10 pounds, learn how to do your makeup and get rid of that lisp then we can talk." 

Everyone laughed including the 2 other teachers in the room, while I was forced to sit in the back of class and wait until tryouts were over. 

When my mom asked how it went, I lied and told here it went well and that I might actually make it. I didn't want her to be sad. I was 11 years old.


"Very few people impress me..."

During my first busy night as a server, my cook told me that he didn't think I could handle the bad section, much less the good. I calmly tried to assure him that I'm great at my job, and that if he didn't agree then he should send me home.

This convinced him to give me the busy section, and I quickly got slammed. I was working really hard and handling it well, but as a server people seldom notice the extra effort you put in. I was doubting myself, I was nervous, and I was starting to worry that the cook was right, that I couldn't handle it. 

Then a very beautiful woman who I had been serving handed me $10 and a note that read, "Very few people impress me, but you've done just that. Thank you for your AMAZING service." 

I lost the note in the chaos before I got to take a picture of it, but I want her to know how much that meant to me. I would love to find her. She gave me confidence to do my job and the realization that I really can do anything I put my mind to, even if it's serving 12 tables at once all across the restaurant. That woman made my night and possibly my career. 

Thank you, kind stranger. Your words are forever in my mind and heart. You've made a young lady feel very happy, warm, and above all, appreciated and confident. So thank you from the bottom of my heart. 

Much love, 

Your Waffle House server.

"Your case isn't even that bad."

When I was about 14, my mom made me see a therapist, even though I never told her that I was depressed and haven't told her to this day. 

Based on the way my mom and step dad treated me, I learned from a young age not to trust adults. So I only gave the therapist limited information.

One day the therapist said to me, "Don't worry, your case isn't even that bad. I've seen so many kids who have way worse cases." 

In reality, I had a verbally and emotionally abusive home. I had depression from the huge expectations my parents had for no one but me, and I have a crippling fear of failure from the punishment I got for my best simply not being good enough. 

But yeah, my case "isn't even that bad." You're right. What was I thinking?

"He's such a nice boy."

When I told my favorite teacher that another student in our class had raped me, her response was, and I quote, "Oh, Jason*? That doesn't seem like something he would do. He's such a nice boy." 

*Names have been changed.

"You probably ruined that girl's confidence..."

I was in university, learning to be a primary school teacher. For one of my school experience sessions, I had to show the class on the overhead projector how to edit their stories for spelling errors. I asked the teacher if I should prepare an example story that wasn't based on an actual student's work, but she said it wouldn't be necessary, that there was a child in class who would be fine with me using her work as an example, and that the teacher had done this before. 

I was being assessed on this lesson by my university contact, so I wanted this to go well.

When I pointed out the first spelling mistake, the child burst into tears. I quickly tried to create my own spelling mistake on the chalkboard and use it as an example instead, but I was shaken. I didn't want to draw attention to the child crying, but I didn't want her to be upset either.

I set the class a quick task to find a spelling mistake in their work, putting them in pairs to work together, while I approached the child in question. My assessor was comforting her, and told me to continue the class.

When the class ended, my assessor approached me and said, "You probably ruined that girl's confidence in her own writing for life."

She was ten. I wish I could apologize.

"I'd rather kill myself..."

After my boyfriend sexually assaulted me and came inside me without my consent, I tried to let it go and make excuses for him. 

A few weeks later, we took a trip out of town and stayed at a hotel. I felt really nauseous, so I stayed in the hotel for 3 days. 

One night, he told me, "I'd rather kill myself than spend an hour with you." 

Not long after, I found out I was pregnant. I got an abortion.

"It's all your fault!"

When I was six, my mom and I were planning to visit my extended family in another state, and I couldn't wait. I was particularly excited to see my great grandmother, who I was especially close to and who I was named after. 

When the day finally came, my mom and I got on a plane, and when we arrived, we were told to go right to the hospital.

The day before we were scheduled to arrive, my great grandma was so excited for our visit, and she tried to go to the store to buy ingredients to cook all my favorite dishes. She ended up having a stroke in the car, and she hit a tree. 

I sat there in the ICU, looking at my great grandma, covered in tubes and completely brain dead. What was supposed to be a happy reunion turned into a traumatic moment to say goodbye.

As I exited the room, her daughter (my grandmother) shouted in front of the entire family, "It's all your fault!"

It's been 29 years, and when this memory sneaks in, I'm still reduced to heartbreaking sobs. I know it wasn't my fault, but it was so horrible and cruel, and it's what stuck with me.