Jasmin's Voice The man that entered my life when I was in Kindergarten. The man that married my mother that dreadful August day in 2004. The man who decided to show me how he “loved” me from between the ages of 8-9 up until around age 19. I’ve gone through the grief cycle, a majority of the time not even realizing it was happening. Being silenced for so long at a young age coping with the aftermath now at 26. Guilted into not telling my mother the truth for fear of hurting her. The need to protect her feelings when no one was protecting mine. Being abused as a child feels like you’re the one holding the image of your “family” together. I use the term the Family Sacrifice because that’s how I felt. You may constantly question the what ifs. If I had spoken out what would have happened? Would things have gotten better or much worse? I have a support system now and I’m going to therapy. But I still experience dread when it comes to speaking up. No matter how many times my support system tells me it’s okay to say how I feel, to be honest and open instead of lying to spare their feelings. This is a huge struggle when you feel your voice has been taken from you. For me, I’m exhausted of continuing on with my facade. I recently realized going back to the source of when I lost my voice in the first place is a huge step in reclaiming who I am. This passion to finally speak up, letting my truth be known so I can heal. I’ve been silenced for so long in fear but now, I NEED TO SPEAK. I write this for anyone who sees this and has unfortunately gone through this same type of trauma and pain, it’s long overdue for us to use our voice. No more excuses, no more holding back. No more feelings of guilt, shame, sickness, and the overwhelming sensation of being afraid when asked to share how we truly feel. We reclaim our voice by speaking our truth and exposing the darkness. Mikel, you used to say live in your truth. My truth is bringing to light your true darkness. No matter what it is or was, abuse is abuse but please remember it was never your fault. You never deserved it. And you have the power to take back what is rightfully yours.