Hi, my name is Yari, and I am 22 years old. I was born and raised in North Miami and come from a dominican background. I was raised in a home with both parents present with my two brothers. Being the only girl in the house, I was treated differently of course and was over protected by my father and brothers that also spoiled me a little more. My parents always had a softer spot when it came to me. They came to the U.S looking for a better life after being born and raised completely poor. My mom has always been such a hard working women. No matter how hard she worked, she made sure everything was smooth sailing at home, and that we were all good. My dad, also very hardworking, has always been a very ambitious man that never wants to settle, and because he worked so hard, it lead to him never really being around as much. For the most part, I had a really great childhood, but at a young age I had to learn that you can't trust everyone around you no matter how long you knew them.
At the age of 12, I dealt with being sexually abused. The abuse went on for 2 years too long and I never told a soul. At the time, we lived in a home that had an efficiency connected to it, so my dad being the hustler he has always been, would rent it out to different people. The last person he rent it out to happened to be one of his best friends. This was a man that knew me since I was 5 years old. He just so happened to be my dads co worker and was related to their boss. I've seen him be a part of our lives from a very young age so trusting him was never an issue. I knew that in his past he had issues with alcohol and drugs, but from what I was hearing at the time, he changed and wasn't living that life anymore. So of course my father had no worries with him staying in the back of our house. I had so much love for him and his wife who was also living with him at the time because they were both so nice to my brothers and I. Board games, trips to the pool and outings to go fishing were just some of the few things they took us out to do. They took such good care of us, so of course no one would ever think that any of them would harm us. On thanksgiving 2005 things completely changed. I remember this day like it was yesterday. Usually for thanksgiving my family would have a big party, and that year it so happened to be at our house. My dad and his friend (The one living in the back of our home) were in charge of cooking, so most of the food were their responsibility. My mom wanted me to go over to the back house to help out with whatever (His friend) needed. So I did as I was old. As I was there, i could feel the awkwardness since we had never been alone before. But looking back, my feeling of awkwardness clearly was for a reason because things got uncomfortable pretty fast. As he was prepping the food, attempting to "teach" and have me help, he began to push up on me which lead to him touching me inappropriately. I was in complete shock. I didn't know what to do, how to react or what to say, so I said nothing. I did absolutely nothing. Afterwards, I just left and kept it to myself and that day was the beginning to the secret that caused me so much pain. The day went on and the party still happened of course but I was still in shock! That night, I made up my mind that I couldn't tell anyone because I felt like maybe I was overreacting and I didn't want any problems.
But after that night, I didn't know what to expect. He acted as if everything was normal and nothing ever happened, so I had to do the same. What I failed to realize was that my silence caused this anger to be built on the inside of me at such a young age. He started getting bold and asking my mom if I could help him with different activities, or go over and play games and even go to the supermarket. I hated every single minute of it because he took advantage of the fact the we were alone to touch me inappropriately. He also made me feel like it was my fault, like I caused it, and the crazy part about it; I believed him. I felt guilty and took the blame. For 2 years I kept it a secret and it really did seem like an eternity. I became really good at hiding how I felt and what I was going through. I acted as if I didn't care about anything and it caused me to put a wall up and have tough skin and it became my way of defending myself and staying "strong" (So I thought). But doing that only made me bitter. As I got older. my anger got bigger and I it began o show. Every Time he would come over or bring my brother and I snacks I would act rude. He would invite us places and I would voice how I didn't want to go but I also didn't want my little brother to be alone with him, so I would. I remember my brother asking me several times "Why do you hate this guy so much?". I just would get mad and run to my room. No one would ever understand. I felt alone.
Growing up with Dominican parents, I was raised the same way they were. That meant talking back to an adult was unacceptable and I had to respect everyone that was older than me, which included my molester. I came from a religious household where we would go to church every Sunday so from a young age I knew about God. I knew I could pray to him, and that some how, some way, he would listen. So that's what I did. I started to pray that this man would move away. I felt that if he left, it would all be over. Honestly, even through the praying, I still felt empty. I felt like I never was good enough. I was depressed, insecure, and felt completely worthless. I was always angry. I didn't love myself and I sure enough didn't know how to. I started to look for validation in guys and friends, the problem is I was always left empty. Eventually in July of 2007, he moved out. I just knew it was God. I was so happy that it was all over and done with (So I thought). Until later on that year, I told one of my closest friends at the time what I went through. I felt she could understand since she went through the same thing too. But eventually she ended up telling her therapist and her parents about my experience and one night her mom sat me down and told me she knew what happened to me. After a long and emotional night, my secret was out and I convinced her parents that I just didn't have the guts to face my parents and tell them. My dad would probably go crazy. I was his baby girl and I didn't want any problems, because the guy was related to his boss and I didn't want him to lose his job because of me. I wasn't strong enough. After all, it was my fault.
The process of having my parents find out was so hard to deal with. I saw my dad broken. He felt guilty because he wasn't there to protect me. I am so thankful though that they were so supportive through the process, that they chose to believe me and love me either way. The problem was that I was still empty and broken inside. I had so much bitterness, anger, insecurities, and pain that was stored up from the years that I started turning to people for validation and healing which lead me to get into a poisonous relationship. A relationship that I completely lost myself in. We were on and off for 4 years. He never could commit to anything because I wanted to wait till marriage to have sex. So because I couldn't give him what he really wanted, he would come into my life whenever he felt like it and walk right out when he please. Dealing with him, left me even more broken. I couldn't trust anyone! I felt as I wasn't good enough. Once again, I felt it was my fault. I feel into a deep depression and I was in such a dark place. I remember nights where I wanted to just end it all, contemplating suicide. I felt I had no purpose. I wasn't good enough for anybody. I would take pills to go to sleep. I never did anything drastic because through it all, even though I didn't have a real relationship with God, I knew there was a God.
In Feb of 2013, I met this amazing guy that invited me to His church (Trinity Miami). I always loved going to church, and at that time I was looking for something more, because I still felt empty, no matter how much I did. I knew there was more. I kept trying to make God love me by doing more and more but always ended up back at square one. I decided to go, and the first Sunday service was amazing. I was definitely different from my previous church. Then I went to a Tuesday night service and that's when I answered the call to make Jesus my Lord and Savior. I would love to say that things instantly got better, but it didn't. It was a process and I had many ups and downs. It wasn't easy to keep going, but I thank God for placing the right people in my life at the right time. The man of God in my life now, that God placed in my life was the one who took me to Trinity, and he would always tell me "One more day, Just hold on, one more day." I started to surround myself with people who showed me love no matter what, that spoke life into me and that wanted to see me grow. Things started to change.