UHCL The Signal
Student Publications Office
University of Houston-Clear Lake
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Houston, TX 77058
This story you’re about to read is not about me educating you, the reader, on the topic of sexual abuse and harassment but an article about my story and experiences.
My story started when I first moved to Texas from the Philippines. I was 11 years young barely coping with my new life and new friends. I moved with my immediate family but had an extended family, friends of my mother, that I was raised to consider aunts and uncles. We lived in a two-bedroom apartment near my aunt, her husband and their children. Since one of their children was around my age, I spent a lot of my free time at their place.
I enjoyed car rides, so I almost always tagged along, waiting in the car with my uncle while my mom and aunt went to the store. One night, both my mom and aunt had a work party to go to. I decided to ride along, staying in the car for a few hours with my uncle and one of his children.
While waiting, the other child and I played in the very back of the van; however, at one point my uncle told me to sit in the front with him so we could talk. I agreed and climbed to the front of the car. We talked at first about school. I distinctly remember him telling me how beautiful I was and that I would one day grow up to be a beautiful woman as he caressed my cheek. I looked away and thanked him. As uncomfortable as I was, I knew better than to talk back to my elders, and I was always taught to say thank you whenever complimented, so I did.
He went on to ask me to hold his hand. I was nervous and reluctant, but not wanting to be impolite, I went ahead and placed my hand on top of his. He told me how soft my hand was and continued to caress my hands, all the while telling me about his life back in Manila, how much he missed his life and the women. I nodded and smiled while trying to figure out a polite way to get my hand out of his. Thankfully, the party was over, and my mother and aunt finally made their way back to the car.
I did not sleep well that night. I did not fully understand, but I knew what happened felt wrong. I wanted to tell my mom. Although I acknowledge that nothing extreme happened to me, I instinctively knew that there could be another time and I was deathly afraid of that possibility. The following morning, I found an opportunity to get my mother alone, away from my father and my sisters, and carefully told her about the incident. I say “carefully” because even though it was not my fault, and deep down inside I knew that, I was afraid that some way, somehow, she would blame me for what happened. However, telling my mother probably saved my life in more ways than one. She listened, and as I told her I saw her face grow angry. At that moment, she told me never to go to their house again.
There would be no way to avoid “family friends,” but my mother made sure that I was never alone with him again. Until this article, only three people knew of this story because it is not something I am comfortable telling. See, just like you, I am afraid of the judgment of others. I am reluctant to talk about this and other experiences I have had growing up because someone may not believe me or I may lose my job. Sometimes, it was because I did not want to ruin someone else’s reputation or their career. Even though I was the one harassed, I was still protecting these disgusting people.
I want you to know that we need you to speak up. I need you to know that it is not your fault, nor will it ever be your fault. We are so afraid of bringing light to these acts and these people, but they do not deserve our silence.
I see you, I hear you, I am with you. It is time to speak up.
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