It is customary not to talk about it. We try to pretend that such problems do not exist. We can't even imagine how they live - those who crossed the Crimea and Rym against their will. Today we publish the story of Rexana Jones - a woman who is overcoming the consequences of her past.
Few of my friends know the full story of my childhood. Friends know a little - that I grew up without parents, that I hardly make contact and feel uncomfortable in society, but I have not yet told all the terrible details. Why did I decide to tell now?
I want to help those who have experienced this so that they know they are not alone in their trouble. I want to tell them that there are others who have gone through this and that we could help each other keep going.
I was born by incest. My mother's father, my grandfather, sexually abused her for many years until she got pregnant and I was born. He is my grandfather and my father at the same time, and his other seven children, my uncles and aunts are my brothers and sisters.
Mom let Grandpa do this to her for years. So she believed that she was protecting the younger children, they had an agreement that the grandfather uses her, but does not touch the other daughters. She was 18 when she gave birth to me. Then she learned that he had never kept this agreement. And she ran away from her family. After escaping, she finally decided to turn in her rapist father.
All these years, her family lived in constant moving, never staying anywhere for a long time. They rented a few rooms in cheap hotels, didn't go out in public, and the kids never went to school. Nobody knew what was going on in the family, they had neither friends nor close acquaintances.
After my mother, two of her brothers ran away. They were detained by the police, and it so happened that three of his children almost simultaneously testified against their father. One of the social workers guessed to combine these stories and realized that they were talking about one person.
When the police came to them, the whole family claimed that my mother took me with someone on the side. Mom also did not want to admit that I was born from her father, but after soft but persistent conversations with a social worker, she confessed. DNA analysis dotted it all.
Grandfather was sentenced to 20 years for incest and multiple abuses of his children. Now he's out on the loose, but he's on the sex offender registry, and I still make sure he's far away from me.
Unfortunately, after he was imprisoned, our life did not become safer. The mother began to take drugs, and the nightmare continued. Her new boyfriend used me, then quite small, as a sexual object. The mother filmed it all and sold it as child porn to earn money for drugs. One of my earliest memories is of refusing to give blowjobs and getting beat up for it.
Shortly before my fifth birthday, my mother hanged herself. I was sent to live with my grandmother, the one who always knew perfectly well what her husband was doing, but was silent. She was mentally unstable and perceived me as evidence of her husband's infidelity. She was jealous of her husband for her daughter, as for another woman, and took out all the evil on me. Every day my grandmother beat me and psychologically suppressed me in every possible way. I was slightly reminded that I am a “child of the devil.”
Many teenagers experiment with alcohol, drugs and sex to escape from the outside world. I had more than enough reasons to try it all. I was constantly taking over-the-counter painkillers in horse doses, drinking and having sex. When I was 16, I got pregnant by a classmate.
And my unborn baby suddenly changed my life. I decided that my son would not get from life what I drank. I quit drinking and smoking as soon as I found out I was pregnant. When I gave birth, the doctors reported me, a pregnant teenager with bruises and abrasions, to the social service. My child and I were to be sent to a foster family. But the social worker insisted that out of all the families for me and my son, they chose the one that once hosted my mother and my brothers. And I am incredibly grateful to him for that.
My life began to look like a normal one. I finished school and married the father of my child. We had another son, and my husband joined the Marine Corps.
But all these years I have lived with a feeling of intense fear and depression. After my suicide attempt, I spent several months in a psychiatric hospital. There was absolutely nothing happening there, and I finally had time to be alone with myself and leaf through my whole life. I started keeping a diary, and it's a dozen thick notebooks about my life. When I feel bad, I reread them to remind myself of what I got out of.
I have close friends who support me. After the suicide attempt, my husband divorced me and took the children, but, oddly enough, we are best friends with his new wife. She came to my hospital and brought me drawings of our sons.
My neighbor is very protective of me. He knows when I'm panicking and is gentle enough to be around and just let me calm down. Sometimes we sit side by side like this for an hour before I can say, “Okay, now let's go shopping.”
I have a dog - a huge and fluffy, specially trained St. Bernard for therapy. He is constantly by my side. Noticing the signs of a panic attack, he sits at my feet and literally does not allow me to move, stops me until I calm down. He fawns and rests his huge head against me until the attack passes. I have always loved animals and now I volunteer part of the time at the animal shelter.
Given the complexity of my genetics, I have a lot of he alth problems. I have been treated twice for cervical cancer, and because my joints have not developed properly, I suffer from arthritis. As my doctor said, at 23 I have the body of a 53 year old woman.
My personal life is not very good, for obvious reasons. It's really hard for me to get close emotionally and sexually, but I'm trying. Carefully and little by little.
My children are my motivation. They teach me how it is to enjoy life. They are now six and four. All they know about my past is that their mother was an orphan and lived with a foster family. They love me and accept me unconditionally. That's why I'm happy with them. Every time we see each other, it's like I'm flipping a switch to "happiness" mode.
When I don't want to get up in the morning and go to work, when I'm sad - I think about my children and smile and go.
I think I've been angry enough in my life. At my past, at my family, at my husband - I had a lot of anger and it ate me. Enough already, I think that's enough.
So I started a support group for people with the same problems, and we hope to unite the survivors. I have come to terms with my past. The present and the future are my work, my animals, my hope for love and my nice, beautiful boys - that's what makes up my life now.