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Survivor's Story

Michelle’s story

Michelle's story

I suffered sexual abuse at the age of 4 for the first time and then I suffered incest by my own biological eldest brother and one of my cousins living in the same town.

My eldest brother and I were 12 years apart in age. He was not around when I was 4 or 5, going to high school in a big city. Between the kindergarten year and the second-grade year in primary school, I was sexually abused by my biological eldest brother. He would be home during the weekend or on vacation staying with family. One day, he urged me to come to the attic with him. That was the beginning of him sexually abusing me. After the shameful things he dared to do, my eldest brother would gently remind me not to tell anybody about what he did to me. He told me, “It is a secret between you and me.” He knew what to do to molest me even when my parents and my other siblings were around. I was confused, scared, and worried.

During almost the same period of time, one of my cousins also sexually abused me. He and I were five years apart. His habitual and unpleasant touching made me feel sick. So, one time I hid from him in the storage when he came by. I felt so scared when I heard him talk outside with my parents. I could almost hear my heart pounding in that dark place.

The incest especially by my eldest brother made me choose to stay deep within my own world for decades. I hated relationships within my family. I was also pessimistic about seeking any consultation around me to get out of the trap. My most despairing experience of sexual abuse by my own eldest brother made me vulnerable for so long in relationships with others. I could not trust anybody, and I was always so nervous and uncomfortable having people around me. I easily lost my focus during the conversations with them and lost track of where we were going in those conversations. I became extremely reserved and offensive or defensive.

After junior high, I started a new life in Seoul and attended a private girls’ high school located in the outskirts of the city. I had to reunite with my eldest brother then because, not knowing what he did to me long ago, my father made me move in with my eldest brother. He then was married and had a wife and two daughters. Fortunately, my eldest brother did not act inappropriately towards me any more. However, I was still extremely uncomfortable and angry with him, and so having to see him every day was a severe punishment because I had to go through mood changes.

My healing began with my prayers and my readings. It was during my prayer in spring 2010 when God led me back to where I was with my sexual abuse, helping me connect the dots and figuring that all my issues should be the impacts of the abuse.

As a sexual abuse survivor, I have longed to find a way of helping other victims of sexual abuse since my early teens. Since spring 2010, I had revisited my wishes to support sexual abuse survivors with their healing and empowerment. In 2014, I formed a non-profit, One Life One Heart (OLOH) International, in Ames, Iowa. I named the organization One Life One Heart based on my own experiences. I chose the name One Life One Heart to portray that one’s life goes with one heart that carries all of one’s stories whether happy or tragic. I point out that, since we go with one and only one heart (the very heart that carries our stories), it is important to take care of our own and keep it functioning properly to enjoy a healthy life.

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