By Leandra Hall – Author, A Taste of the Real World
When I first started writing about the time I ran away from home and encountered a man who forcefully begged me to have sex with him for money, the incident had already been on my mind for several weeks. Though four years had passed, I still couldn’t get over it. Looking back on it made me feel violated and uncomfortable—sometimes even sending shivers down my back when I thought of it in detail.
I was skeptical about sharing my story at first. The idea that telling your story helps you get it off your chest and makes you feel better sounded like something your mom would say. But I decided to give it a shot and write about it in my English class. Sharing my experience with others was like taking down all of my walls and defenses, and allowing people I barely knew to see the hurt little girl who was hiding inside. At least that’s how I felt.
When people started reading my story, they made me feel better about the incident by reminding me of how messed up a man that old must be to desire such a small young girl. They also made me feel good about myself when they praised my storytelling abilities. I’d never felt confident in reading or writing and always considered English my worst subject. But here were these adults and classmates telling me that I was actually good at it. It made me start to really enjoy writing– as long as it’s in small portions.
As I stated briefly in my story, I went through a phase in my early teen years when I’d decided I could do whatever I wanted to do and didn’t have to listen to my parents. As a result I got into some tangled situations that were pretty hard to get out of. I just want those who feel the same way I once did to realize that by refusing to listen, you can encounter a lot of danger and really get hurt. Rape and kidnapping really do happen. I’ve had to learn a lot of life’s lessons the hard way and the thought of others having to do that is terrifying. I understand that not all may listen. But I hope that by sharing my story, at least a few will get it.
Leandra’s powerful story is can be found in We Are Absolutely Not Okay: Fourteen Stories by Teenagers Who Are Picking Up the Pieces — available on Amazon or BN.Com.