Words Of Encouragement

Eleanor Escobedo

*Trigger Warning: References to sexual assault, child abuse, murder and suicide. Reader discretion is advised.

Eleanor Escobedo
Eleanor Escobedo
Eleanor Escobedo

Depression, anxiety, insomnia, substance abuse, self harm, suicide, dissociation… these are just a few of the many effects of sexual violence. “Sexual assault would be the term that would be used most frequently in a court of law. But assault, abuse and violence are all interchangeable when it comes to an unwanted sexual contact,” an Illinois sexual assault nurse examiner states. 

There is a significant contrast between the publics perception of sexual abuse and the true sexual assault that occurs. Sexual assault is defined as when a person forces themselves upon an individual who does not consent to the actions occuring. Sexual abuse is defined as when a person becomes the victim of continuous, non-consentual sexual relations-often those actions being committed towards a minor. Sexual abuse also includes an individual who feeds off the vulnerability of their younger victims, for children have more of a difficulty understanding the acts forced upon them. 


The definition of sexual assault according to Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) is “sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim. Some forms of sexual assault include: Attempted rape, fondling or  sexual touching, forcing a victim to perform sexual acts (such as oral sex or penetrating the perpetrator’s body), and penetration of the victim’s body, known as rape.” 


TW: A Sexual Violence Survivor’s Story from 1978-1986; disturbing content following.

“As a baby, I was never abused. I don’t ever recall being abused by anybody or any member of my family until I was eight years old when my parents had passed from a murder suicide. I found my parents’ bodies when I came home from school, which made my brothers, [my] sister and I become a ward of the state… and we were all very vulnerable. I was eight years old, but my brothers were eleven and twelve, and my sister was only two years old. Our grandparents were the only ones that could take us in at that time [and] they were older-they didn’t speak English, and we couldn’t speak Spanish. I had two uncles, who were the two youngest of my dad’s brothers, that were still living in the house. I remember the first time when I was sexually abused by one of my uncles in the bedroom… It was probably three or four months after my parents passed away. He forced me to perform fellatio on him. I didn’t know what that was at the time, I was young. But I just remember that’s what he made me do. He never abused me after that. When his friends came over, I remember being asked to come into the bathroom with them. I just didn’t know what to think of that, I was only eight years old.”

“My Grandfather was the worst out of all the abusers. I don’t know why I became the target of his sick fantasies. [TW: Murder] Being abused by him and being told if I said anything, he would kill me the way my Dad killed my Mom. I remember him holding the same gun my Father killed my Mother with up to my neck. I didn’t want him to hurt my sister, so while trying to protect her, I submitted to whatever he wanted me to do. It wasn’t anything terrible, but it was enough to carry with me for the rest of my life. It took a lot of courage to tell my Aunt, who was my mom’s sister, about the abuse and tell her what my Grandpa was doing to me. As soon as my Aunt rescued us and got us out of that house, I thought: ‘Wow this is a new life… we’ve been saved.’ But no. It didn’t end there.”

“The abuse continued on with my Aunt’s husband. For years I had dealt with physical and mental abuse from my Uncle. When I was 15 years old, my Uncle got me pregnant and my Aunt never knew it was his. Out of fear, I told my Aunt it was my boyfriend’s and she forced me to get a abortion. Unfortunately, my sister also got pregnant from our Uncle but did not tell my Aunt. My Aunt sold the baby for $25,000 through a private adoption but my sister and her daughter are currently in contact. I couldn’t go to my Aunt about what was going on because I had endured severe mental abuse from her. My Aunt would always remind me that she wasn’t my mother and she’ll never be my mother, that she could never love me the way she loves her own children, that I’m never going to amount to anything, nobody in my family ever went to college, what makes me think I’m be better than anyone else? I had to rise up from that. I don’t think I ever lost my internal self. I would never allow the sexual predators to ever win. When I was seventeen, my Aunt caught my Uncle going into my room one night. They talked for almost two hours and she told me I need to move out before I cause them to divorce. I was so happy to be free from that environment, but also worried about my sister. She lied to me about our Uncle, and by the time she told me three or four years later that she was lying, it was already too late.”

“When I tell people my story, and they find it very inspirational-but I don’t see it that way. I see myself as a survivor, a warrior because I had to fight for everything that I’ve gotten in my life. You have to learn to put away the negativity that haunts you from your past and be able to push yourself forward and move yourself forward in life and know that everything that you have to offer is so valuable.”


Sexual Assault is an unspoken topic that is extremely important. Silence, flirting, assumptions, intoxication and more are not forms of consent. It is important to know that when a person says no, it means no. A forced yes, along with unsureness before or during any sexual act regardless of the relationship, is a form of sexual violence. As the Illinois sexual assault nurse examiner claims, “if a person doesn’t give consent and explicitly say yes, then the answer is always no.”

Sexual assault can happen to anyone regardless of gender, race, or age. The impacts of sexual assault are difficult to over come especially alone. It’s never too late to use the power within your voice and speak out to someone you trust. 


You will never be a victim but always a survivor.