From Shame to Grace

By Ayem….

I was sexually abused as a child by my older brother. He was always much bigger than me, even though we were only 2 years apart. Without going into detail, he pretty much made my life a living hell for 18 years. I couldn’t do anything in the house without pissing him off or pissing my parents off for pissing him off. I left our family home at 18 to attend college while he was locked up in prison for a string of burglaries he committed, moving to a family-owned apartment. I wanted nothing more than to get as far away as I could from the monster in my house.

Once I had sex for the first time with a female, it was like the floodgates were opened my first winter in college. I flunked out of college due to 2 straight semesters of withdrawing. I was addicted to porn, to seeking encounters with young women, to going out and self medicating my trauma. Less than 18 months later at the age of 19 and a half, I was arrested for statutory rape of a 12 year old girl. She misrepresented herself to me as 17, and I was too fogged up from so much pain and hurt that I didn’t see the red flags that should have told me something was off about the whole encounter. I was arrested on charges facing a minimum mandatory of 18 years in prison.

Between my arrest and my conviction, totaling close to 3 years, I got a taste of what it would be like to be on the registry. Any job that background checked me would turn down my application right away. Even when given the chance to explain the circumstances around my offense, the employer would generally turn me away. It sucked. It hurt that my worth came down to what my mugshot said about me. I even had an employer send me for a drug test making me think I got the job only to see them repost the classified the next day with “no criminal record”. I had employers thinking I was lying on my applications when I put that I wasn’t convicted of a felony, but pending 18 years in prison was worse than being on probation. Because employers don’t know what to do with that. Even after I was sentenced, employers used my offense against me to refuse to give me raises or even basic job security. It always went back to: “well if you could find another employer who would take you, you wouldn’t be here”.

Thankfully because of my parents willing to pay for a great lawyer, I got a sentence I could live with – 5 years probation with 10 years non-public registration; not a day spent in prison. I disclosed my abuse to my parents who changed from blaming me for all of the mess I caused to realizing I was predisposed to the issues that contributed to my committing my offense. They supported me while I was on probation and also while I was working on getting psychiatric help as well.

The worst part about being a registrant is how there is no where to go but up even if you’re not willing to go up – which is where I was for those 3 years pending conviction. That’s also the best part about it. I’ve come to peace with the things in life that I’m going to miss out on – either possibly or definitively. I’m likely never going to make six figures at a regular 9 to 5 with a big company. I may never get to travel outside of the country to Europe like I wanted to. I likely will always have to fight for respect because many people believe I don’t deserve any. I will have to fight to wake up everyday and believe my life is worth something because the inhumane treatment I’ve endured because of my offense tells me otherwise.

That’s okay though. Other people have their life. I have my own life. Regardless of what else is to come, I choose to fight for my life. My crime against that young girl was horrible, I take responsibility for it, and I will live with that the rest of my life. But the key part of that phrase? “The rest of my life”. I still have the rest of my life to look forward to, regardless if it isn’t the easy fluffy life I thought I deserved.

We are entitled to nothing. “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there.” Everyday that I exist, I fulfill my purpose so long as I do something with it. Even if it means living as a registrant fighting for my life.

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