Photograph by Denise Beckwith
“When I was about twelve years old, my uncle came to live with us. He started to focus on me and again up to that point had treated me like a child but as soon as I began to change as an adolescent, I became a target. So, like I said from the age of twelve to fourteen I was sexually abused by my uncle and then I learned more as I got older in terms of rest of the family in terms of abuse of one of my sisters. I was sexually assaulted again when I was fifteen and the abuse with my uncle didn’t go as far as intercourse and at fifteen I woke up in my sister’s apartment and there was some man on top of me having sex with me and I was a virgin and I have never had sex before. I didn’t scream, I didn’t yell and I didn’t do all of these things, you know, you start going back in time, you start going back to the other incident and then this becomes this whole pattern of blaming.
You have to listen to children, you have to believe children when they tell you what happened to them, you have to support them and you have to do something because that’s how you break it, that’s how you stop it is you do something and you say no. So that there’s no more silent tears, no more little girls who don’t have somebody to tell, somebody to protect them, somebody who is going to stand up for them and protect them. That’s my silent voice.”
– Bonnie Brayton, Canada 2017