Taking My First Steps of Recovery from Sexual Assault, Abuse, and Addiction

My name is Selena and I was born on November 2nd 1998 in Racine, Wisconsin. It was 11:59 when I laid on my mother’s chest as a newborn for the first time. I squirmed and wiggled but never cried. The doctors knew something was wrong. Little did they know, I was born with meth, crack, weed, and alcohol in my system. As a baby, some my first days were spent in detox; away from my mother as she went to rehab. I eventually went home two weeks later.

I was actually able to stay my mother and grandmother. My father though, was always in and out. It wasn’t too much longer before my mother was back on drugs and grandma was unfortunately in between homes. Things started to fall apart so quickly. At the time, I even got lead poisoning. Then a week later I was then put on medication and given to my mother’s twin.

She help raised me as if I was hers until I was six years old. Already at this young age, I had to learn how to grow up quickly. I cooked, cleaned, and played the role that a mother would have; if there was such a person around. Life continued to take some interesting turns. I started to get interested in boys and started dating already by thirteen years old. As hard it is to say, I was raped by my first boyfriend. I can’t even begin to fully explain how broken I felt as a young woman. The actions and the things that were said that horrific night cut scars so deep. In many ways it ruined me at the time and for a very long time influence every part of the next few years.

Regardless of how difficult this was, I still had to keep up with my responsibilities. In my home, I had to help take care of eight other people and this didn’t make life any easier. In fact it made it worse. The stress was overbearing. I started to self-harm and by sixteen I even battled with anorexia. I felt broken. Looking back at it now, I see how I was desperately trying to find comfort in anything I could; no matter how bad it was for me.

At the time I was in the very abusive relationship. He beat me and raped me over and over. I stayed, hanging onto his promise that he would change. He didn’t. It continued to get worse. He nearly killed me one night. I literally cried and begged for my life. That was the last night that I ever saw him. In fact, the very next day he took his own life. I am not sure why, but after he passed, this immense guilt started to build. Some call it survivor’s guilt. Whatever it was, my life continued to spiral out of control.

I got kicked out of my home, was bullied at school, and started to use drugs daily; blacking out constantly. If it got you high, I tried it. Still, I couldn’t escape from the pain I felt inside. Things just got worse and I was sinking deeper and deeper. I knew things had to change. It was at this time, that I decided to do something unimaginable. I made a HUGE move and went to college!

While things didn’t get better immediately, it helped me to see what else could be possible. I still battled with drugs and past trauma but finally I could see that there was something else out there for me. Then I experienced something that brought a great amount of hope back into my life.

These two men from Rise Together came to our College and spoke to a big group of us. They wore their hearts on their sleeve, were completely honest, and vulnerable with us all. While listening, I felt like they went through similar things. I felt like they were me and I was them. I felt like they would understand me. No longer did I feel alone. Hearing their stories of recovery made me think that if they could change their lives, then I could do the same.

Now I sit here clinging to those memories, their stories of redemption, hoping and fighting for a new beginning. Now I want to really learn what it means to LIVE again. They helped to open my eyes again. I found HOPE and that alone can change everything. For anyone who is reading this, I encourage you to see this as my way of taking my first steps. In many ways, getting this off my chest and sharing it with all of you is helping me to heal. As of today, I am two weeks clean and sober. Please provide me any feedback that you think may help while I move forward on this new journey.

Thank you deeply,

Selena Hollins


#risetogether #standup #speakout

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