My 18 year old family niece sought her dad out scared for her life. She was 16 then. Her father’s longtime friend and bosom buddy had made his way to her room and fondled her, he got as far as taking off he bra and was about to shove her onto the bed, when she ran. He was a vile man. He made passes at young girls daily asking them if they were virgins, fresh and untouched then telling other men he knew about them.

Her father was too mad to act out but too afraid to do anything himself. So he called my dad and he and my brother packed the man, and kicked him out of house and home. Told him to find his way and repentance.

Last year, in a completely none related story, my sister told me that almost 20 years ago, a man, I personally loathed at the tender age of 12 who lived with us molested her. She was 9. He used to fondle her when she was alone, show her graphic images of playboy magazine sex scenes and explain how delicious sex was. One day, he decided he would mount her, she pushed him and ran. Unfortunately, she never told a soul. He was disgusting. He lived with us for almost 2 years and exposed my tender brothers to his library of inappropriate sexual literature. It was after he had shoved their deodorant into his pants that he was finally relieved of his abode in my house. He died some years later having made a young teenager pregnant.

2 of my friends had their mother’s best male friends fondle them in their youth. They were either too afraid to tell their parents or convinced that they would not be believed. One of the men had died, death sentence, I have no idea what happened to the other. But in their 20’s when these women finally spoke out, their parents said and did nothing but stare.

2 years ago, a family was broken into, 5 men killed their dogs, stripped them naked, beat up the father and son, stepped on the mother and raped the daughters.

We could get graphic; a man picked up a woman on her way home in a little village nearby. He offered her a ride, then took his own turn and drove deep into the bushes. He told her calmly to get out pf the vehicle, stripped her and bend her over. She begged him to at least use protection, she was sick and he retorted, that it was not his first rape, told her to keep quiet and proceeded to rape her, she felt a thud to her head every time he thrust into her. She accepted then, that she was being raped.

I have my own horror story as do far too many of my friends and their friends and their friends. The list is endless. What proceeds is the endless blame game, the silent wars, the lack of self-respect or fear, inappropriate sexual relationships or severe sexual insecurity, anger, depression and in severe cases, death.  The drama of sexual violence lives with you. As a parent it’s the realization that you could not protect your child, as a sibling it’s the helplessness against an adult, for friends it’s the insensitivity of the perpetrator. The crime is just vile, cruel and sickening.

But what do you do with it? Let it go. You may want to hunt down the perpetrator who violated you, your sibling, friend or foe and violate them, but what if they died? Killed, sentenced to death of suffered an ailment and met their demise. There is no one left to blame or hunt or kill or maim.

You simply must recognize that by holding onto the grudge, you give them power over you. You must let go and heal yourself, learn to defend yourself, heal your soul and grow bolder. But, you must also empower the next generation, report rape, molestation and sexual assault.

Protect your children and protect yourself. Remember, there is life after rape.