When My Childhood Innocence Was Taken Away

[dropcap]Growing up[/dropcap] in my old neighborhood there were many horrible things such as drug dealers, drug abusers and a lot of other bad things. As a child, I never saw any of it myself and I never thought about all of the bad things that went on, but I knew it happened.

I was too busy thinking about playing games outside with my brothers. I loved hide-and-seek, tag, races, and hopscotch. I also thought about what my mother was cooking for dinner that night. Sometimes I would lie in the grass just thinking and imagining the different smells coming from my mom’s kitchen. I also thought too that maybe if I thought hard enough, I would be able to taste my favorite foods: chicken, beef stew, roast beef, and best of all, catfish.

Being young and in that kind of environment, I never imagined anything bad would happen to me. Those negative things didn’t exist in my world, until the day my innocence was taken from me. I remember that day clearly. I was lying on my bed in my room, thinking about how I was going to spend my weekend even though it was already Saturday afternoon. My mom was away somewhere and my dad was at work. Even though my parents were separated, I still knew where they both were.

[pullquote_right]I honestly thought he was trying to be friendly, but I was very wrong.[/pullquote_right]

I remember hearing my brothers laughing with their friends while playing football, smelling my neighbors BBQ and wanting some of it. But my daydreaming was cut short by one of my brother’s friends who walked into my room, asking if I was okay. Of course I was and I let him know, but that didn’t seem to be what he wanted to hear. He started moving closer to me like he wanted to sit on the bed and talk, so I didn’t think anything of it. Sitting there as innocent as can be, he leaned closer to me and started to touch me. I honestly thought he was trying to be friendly, but I was very wrong.

He attempted to rape me, but just before he could try anything, one of my brother’s friends came upstairs looking for him because he told them he was only coming in to get some water.

After that, I started to feel a pain I had never felt before. My brother knew his friend was upstairs with me and my brother was beyond livid, he was to the point where he wanted to do a great deal of harm to his friend. Then my mom came home and immediately heard what was going on and called the police.

Being so young I never understood everything. All I remember was being scared and embarrassed that I just wanted to hide under a rock. I decided to lie about the whole incident and tell everyone that it never happened. In my head I didn’t know what else I could do since I couldn’t do anything; I was only eight years old! But eventually, everyone found out the truth.

Now, as a sixteen year old, I ask myself how I could have been so stupid and not speak up. Only if I knew what it would do to me until this day. After that day, I never saw the world in the same way again.

The kNOw Youth Media
The kNOw works to support and equip young people with the journalism and advocacy skills they need to tell their stories and the stories of their communities.

In 2006, over 25 youth began participating in weekly after-school writing workshops where they congregated in the hallway of a two-story building in West Fresno and learned the essentials of creating media and telling their stories. The group evolved over the next five years and is now proudly recognized as The kNOw Youth Media.

Through our program, we create opportunities for our youth participants, who in turn create long-term positive change in their communities. Our approach weaves youth development and youth media innovation to produce our biannual youth publication, multimedia projects, and community forums.

The kNOw began as a project of New America Media, which was the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations. In 2018 The kNOw became a project of Youth Leadership Institute.

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