33-year-old Joyce Read was sexually assaulted six different times by various perpetrators. The incidents occurred in Chicago, IL, when Joyce was between the ages of eight and twenty-three. Today Joyce volunteers for the RAINN Speakers Bureau and is a published author and business owner.
From the age of eight to twenty-three, I have been raped, fondled, and/or molested 6 different times. Either it was by a family member, friend, boyfriend, or stranger. At such a young age I didn’t understand – but I did know that it wasn’t supposed to hurt when someone touched me in my private area. I had no one to talk to or go to so I held it all in and it caused me to rebel and act out in anger and frustration to everyone. I became very violent in my relationships and blamed myself a lot for what others done to me. This has affected me short term and long term because I trusted no one. I sometimes didn’t trust myself.
Out of all the times I was violated there is one in particular time that I never understood why? My father raped me at the age of 12 and thought it was okay. I feel he knew what he was doing because he fondled other siblings as well but raped me and I was so scared because my father used to always beat us so when he threatened me telling me to not say anything to anyone, I did just that! It took me two months before I was able to write my mother a letter that my father raped me.
If I could confront my father I would probably react in fear because he has made me afraid of him. One of my attackers actually reached out to me on Facebook via message and acted like nothing ever happened. He spoke and said “I see you wrote a book,” and asked what the book was about. I said it was about things that I have endured in my life. He said, “What happened?” I said I was raped six times by different people. He said, “Wow really!” I said, “Yes and you were one of them!” He then blocked me and I never heard from him again.
I used to think it would affect me for the rest of my life but going through therapy and counseling has taught me that nothing that has happened to me was my fault, and that I need to allow good people to love me and let good people in, and not everyone is bad. I used to think that everyone had a motive and a reason to want to talk to me. I never understood why someone would like me or want to be my friend after I’ve been so damaged inside and out.
I am now a woman of God and a believer that my life has a purpose and I am supposed to be on this earth to help and inspire others with my story. I can never question God on why He had me go through such trauma when I now understand that it was to make me a strong beautiful woman that can overcome any obstacle that comes my way.
People have their opinions and are quick to judge about something that they never had to endure. I always say: “Never Judge a book by its cover; first open it and read it.” People treat it like it’s nothing. You rarely hear about it on the news. I feel like people are embarrassed to talk about it because they feel ashamed. I will always say, “What if? What if it was your mother, grandmother, sister, brother, or child? Would you want to talk about it then?” We as people need to step up and talk about it more because it happens more often than we know. I don’t think it’s fair at all to the victims because sometimes we need to feel like someone cares or feel like our lives matter too.
If I could give advice to anyone it would be that you are not alone, and no matter what, it’s not your fault. You should seek help and report it. Women and men! Love doesn’t hurt; Love isn’t pain; Love isn’t a black eye or insecurities. Love is beautiful; Love is understanding; Love is passion.
Seeking help from a therapist was the most helpful thing ever. Now I am able to talk about my situation without crying about it. I forgave so I can be forgiven. I know now there are so many resources out there that are available everywhere. There are hotlines, social media platforms, and organizations that will help you and keep your name anonymous. Sometimes we just want someone to talk to. Forcing someone to talk to someone or speaking on their behalf is not the way to go about it. The survivor has to be ready to receive the help. Just always be there for them and continue to show love regardless of what the victim wants to do. It’s their life, not yours.
What we all need to do to help is talk about it more, speak up and speak out and stop being ashamed of what others have to say. Everyone has a story but not everyone has the courage to speak out about it. We need to get together and help our communities and give back our knowledge and faith to the ones that are feeling helpless right now. Have walks, raise money and stop waiting until October and April to talk about a very touching issue that it happening every day.
While healing and getting over past my past, I started my own nail polish company called “Ironic Nails” that empowers women to continue to be beautiful regardless of what you may feel. Proceeds go to a foundation or organization that empowers women nationwide.
My name is Joyce Reed and I am UR voice.
Joyce Reed describes her book, Hurt Used to Live Here:
In the early 80s a young girl was born into a family that left her heartless, helpless and emotionless allowing her to always fin for herself; alone and barely loved. She grew up and experienced so many things that eventually allowed her to learn, forgive, forget and grow. Sharing my story to touch hearts of others that can relate to struggle, life's disappointments, abuse, deaths, and or betrayal; and come out with a positive attitude.
Using the words I recorded in journals and notebooks I kept as a young girl, I now bare my soul within these pages by sharing my truth. I share my personal struggles with the world to help others and give them the support and love I never felt as a young girl. I don’t want anyone to ever feel, what I felt growing up, but in my years of healing I realize that I am certainly not the only one. It was a lot of hurt and pain but there are ways to get through it, to do more than just survive. Reclaim your worth, your dignity, your SELF. He will see you through it, and He will put people in your path that will help along the way.
I am sharing my story with you, so others, who have judged me without knowing the silent pain that I carried, will finally understand. “Never judge a book by its cover, first open it and read it.” So as the Bible says, I am making it plain, and writing it on tablets--making my life that open book; a book that includes a vision of hope, faith and victory that many desire, but few have claimed.
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