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Sex Crime Victim found some Relief

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Charlene Rees, from Ridgeland, Mississipi is 43 years old. It took her 40 years to talk openly about what happened. She was raped from aged three to 17 by a member of her family. Charlene wants to use her real name and she tells her story in the hope that she might help others speak out.

"It started when I was three. My uncle was the first to molest me and then when I was about six my brother messed with me. We lived at my grandparents, all six kids. He would come into my bedroom and touch me and nobody said a word. Sometimes I would run into the living room and he would follow me in there. Later, my parents were at the house and I thought it was safe. I was seven and he would have been 11. That night he raped me. I screamed and he ran into his bedroom.

By the time my parents came into my room my brother also ran in and said that some man was trying to get into the house. My Daddy ran outside with a shotgun. He knew it wasn't true. But he never knew what happened or that it was my brother because I never said anything. I was scared. I was the middle child and my oldest brother was the golden boy; he could do no wrong in their eyes.

My brother ran away to Arkansas and everything was OK for a while but then we all moved to Arkansas - everybody one big happy family. He raped me until I was 17. One night he came into the living room and put a burgundy pillow over my head so I wouldn't scream. He said 'Do you want a piece of this...want to f..k?' I ran down the street to my aunt's house and finally told her what happened. But it was one of those things you just didn't talk about.

I got married shortly after that incident and got away, far from Arkansas.

My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease a few years ago. I went to see her at our old house in Arkansas and my brother was there. He told my mamma that I was going to put her in a nursing home. That was a blatant lie and I told him that he would live to regret telling her this. I went home, talked to a psychiatrist and she said it is time to write that letter. So I did, I told my family in a letter, what my brother had done to me for so many years. I told my brothers and sister, aunts and uncles, even the uncle who molested me when I was three. My brother has never said a thing about the letter. That was last September. He didn't deny it nor did he charge me with slander. If it was a lie, don't you think he would have retaliated?

I have four brothers and one sister. They believe me. My younger brother said 'I believe you because he forced me to have oral sex with him when I was a kid.' And he never told anyone either.

I talk about it now as much as I possibly can because I want people to know that it can happen in any family, rich or poor, perfect or imperfect. I feel that if more children were encouraged to speak out, to come to their parents and let them handle the burden, they might not suffer as long as I did - 40 years.

Parents, trust and believe your child. I didn't make this stuff up. I couldn't breast feed my children, I couldn't have a sexual relationship with my husband. I tried to commit suicide three times. It messes up your mind. I have been on anti-depressants since I was 35. I had a nervous breakdown at this age and wound up in the hospital. I've been in therapy ever since. My recovery has been a long process but now, since my mother's diagnosis, I can finally live with it and talk about it without a struggle - without upsetting my Mamma.

And because all these years my brother intimidated me so much and I was so afraid. Then he hurt my mother and that was the last straw.

It was the second weekend in June when I saw my mother. I begged him not to hurt her by saying I was going to put her in a nursing home. I said to him "You aren't going to mess with me anymore." And that is when I wrote the letters. My burden was completely gone then.

My rape counselor said the statute of limitations here, after your 21st birthday, is seven years. The statute of limitations shouldn't run out on any sexual crime. In my case it took me 40 years to come to terms with it.

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