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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at PSU chapter.

Trigger warning: This article contains detail about sexual assault involving children.

If you’re anything like me, lately you may be dealing with some past childhood memories that aren’t the greatest. You’re definitely like me if you’ve been ignoring them for 10 to 15 years and now feel like they won’t go away.

If you feel this way, you aren’t alone.

I know those are the most generic words, but it’s the truth. It’s scary to not know what to do with all of the feelings and emotions of events that happened years ago, but it’s going to be okay. I’m going to show you a few ways that help me release the pain and other resources that may help you, but first let me tell you my story.

I’ve never told anyone the full truth about certain things that happened in my childhood. Maybe it’s not the best to fully share it for the first time where it’s available to anyone with internet access, but maybe someone will be able to relate because I’ve always felt so alone.

From kindergarten to third grade, my dad lived in a mint-green house. He lived in the upstairs apartment with some downstairs neighbors. The neighbors had two sons, one was a few years younger than me and the other was a year older. When I was over they would come upstairs to play.

The younger brother was sweet and playful, most times he wouldn’t even come up because he wanted to stay with his mom. The older brother was nice at first, then he started to get rough. He would hit me and bend my arm, but I just thought it was a game — until it wasn’t anymore.

I had a small, deep closet in my room, and he would push me in and tell me that he wanted to do things to me like they did in the movies his dad watched. He would make me get naked for him and touch me everywhere I didn’t want to be touched.

I would cry and beg him not to, but he always threatened me with lies that would get me in trouble if I didn’t listen. I was terrified of getting in trouble as a child, I would do anything to avoid punishment. So, I would cry and sometimes run, but the locks weren’t the best so he found ways to get into everything with a coin.

It happened for about three years and my parents almost found out once — out of fear, I came up with a lie. Until this year, I haven’t been able to come to terms with everything that happened. I was practically a baby, I didn’t understand anything that was happening, I just thought he was my friend. I struggle telling this story too because just as I was a child, so was he. I didn’t think anyone would believe that a child would do that to another, but it did, and lately I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. 

There are other stories as well, but that’s the one that controls my mind the most. It’s one that hurts, but I’m learning how to cope. If anyone else has trauma that they’ve been dealing with as well, I want to be able to share what has been helping me. 

Write Your feelings

I love to write my feelings down and it truly helps. I just sit, write and cry, which releases a lot of tension and the weight feels less heavy after.

Don’t force yourself to write about anything though. Sometimes there are moments that don’t feel right, forcing it won’t help anything.

Watch a Movie

I struggle to take the time watch a television show or a movie, but lately I’ve been trying to find time to watch something. Last weekend when I was in my thoughts and upset, I started watching movies on Netflix. The only problem was that I chose to watch “All the Bright Places” which is a tear-jerker. After that, I watched one of my favorite movies, “About Time” to make me feel better.

If you haven’t seen that movie, go watch it. The chemistry between Mary and Tim makes me smile so big, it’s beautiful.

Talk to Someone

Sometimes it helps to talk it out. Just to say you’ve been thinking about a lot of things that happened during your childhood, even if you don’t want to tell the full story. I did that the other day and it felt good to just admit it. You can talk to a therapist, or even just someone that you trust that’ll listen. 

Go for a Walk Outside

I know it’s winter and you might not want to go outside, but it does help. Especially on days where you’re really struggling and might not want to even get out of bed. I personally like to not walk at the speed of light (like seemingly everyone else) so I can look around. I look at the mountain view Penn State gives, the trees, squirrels and bunnies. When I actually take time to look at nature and it’s beauty, it makes me feel peaceful and usually brings a smile onto my face. 

Do Something You Love

Go out and do something you love for a few hours. There have been times that I’ve been so upset that I’ve dropped all hobbies and it just hurt me in the end — don’t do that. Keep doing the things you love or find something new. It may not be a full distraction to your thoughts, but it may help lift your mood a little bit. Sometimes I add on little projects to distract myself and it works. 

Take a Bath/Shower

Nothing makes me feel better than getting into a bath. The other day I couldn’t stop crying so I decided to take a bubble bath and it was one of the best feelings I’ve had in a while. Don’t underestimate the calming power of a bath. Besides, who doesn’t like getting into one and just scream-sing to songs?

Personally, I like to play “Cardigan” by Taylor Swift on repeat while I’m in there.

Hotline Numbers to Know

This is a link to any hotline you may need during a crisis. Please use these resources if you need them. I know it’s hard, but I promise it will get better one day. I love you all.

Arianna is currently a second year student at Penn State University from Massachusetts. In her free time she likes to listen to music, read, and watch the same three shows over and over again.