I Won’t Back Down: The Toughest Battle Yet
If you have been following my blog closely for over a year, you know that the father who sexually abused me for seven years suddenly re-entered my life last year. (If you missed that, or haven’t been following me for long, you can catch up here.) I didn’t ask for it. I didn’t want it. I really wish he hadn’t made the decision to come back. More than 17 years ago, when I last talked to him, the deal was, that if he left me and my family alone, I wouldn’t press charges for seven years of sexual abuse, rape, physical abuse, and even instances where he shared me with other men.
Honestly and selfishly, I didn’t really want to go to the authorities and press charges back then because I didn’t think I could handle the questions, the pressure, and the shame of the world knowing what my dad did to me. I didn’t (and still don’t) hold any bitterness or anger, and I couldn’t see that battling things out through the legal system would benefit anyone. So, I moved on. And, I assumed he did the same. My parents moved out of state and cut off all contact with everyone else in the family, even to the point of returning unopened birthday cards from my grandparents and missing my grandfather’s funeral.
But, last October I learned my dad had been essentially harassing my grandparents (his parents) through letters and pressuring them to “pretend Ria doesn’t exist so you can have a relationship with me.” First, it was a nice attempt at “Let’s get together” but his letters to them turned hateful very quickly. It was a few weeks before I learned of it, and in all transparency, the news rocked my world.
But, I knew something he didn’t. The woman I am today isn’t the same scared and ashamed 19-year-old girl he took advantage of back then. The woman I am today won’t be bullied into silence. The woman I am today is a survivor – and proud of it.
On October 14, 2016 within 24 hours of learning my dad had reentered my world, I called the authorities and filed a report against him for what he did to me. The statute of limitations has run out on many charges, including incest, but not all charges. It’s been 13 months since I picked up my courage and walked into the sheriff’s office. I held my head up and filed a report that filled 11 pages with details of what he did to me.
And, it’s time once again to be brave. On Tuesday, I’m going to walk into a courtroom and hear him make a plea. His choice is to plead guilty and accept the consequences of some of his actions or we’ll go to trial and then he can face the consequences for many more of his actions. Either way, it’s not going to be easy. I’m going to have to face the man that destroyed my youth, and my innocence, and very nearly destroyed me.
It might be the toughest battle I’ve had to face yet. But, I won’t back down.
Today, I’m very blessed and I’m strong. I’ve got a wonderful supportive husband standing beside me and many other supporters.
I’m heading out tomorrow to run a marathon. In a way, it represents a victory for me. Because resilience is the difference between “I didn’t die,” and “I learned to live again,” Tomorrow, I’m going to run my sixth marathon. That’s 26.2 miles as living proof of someone who learned to live again. And Tuesday, I’m going to walk into a courtroom and prove it to everyone else.
Your prayers are appreciated!
Learn more about my story in my books: Beyond Bound and Broken and Ria’s Story From Ashes To Beauty and coming soon: Bridges out of the Past: A Survivor’s Lessons on Resilience. Or, send me an email at Ria@RiaStory.com to request more information on my upcoming 2018 women’s workshop on resilience, healing, and intentional planning/living!