Trigger Warning: This post contains information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to some survivors.
"Why Me?" Colby Hlavinka
What did I ever do to deserve this?
These are the thoughts that have ran through my mind during my life in regards to the sexual abuse that I have experienced first-hand.
But wait, isn't sexual abuse only something that happens to women and not to men? Men are supposed to be tough and show no fears and face their issues like a "man," right?
This is not true in the least bit. Sexual abuse can happen to anybody at any time, just like in my case—with several different perpetrators.
My first encounter happened when I was only two years of age. It was with a male babysitter that my parents had trusted to take care of me and be my support, but he betrayed them by taking advantage of me. I was two years old!
After this horrible encounter, it was hard for me to trust anybody and to form relationships. My innocence had been taken from me at such a young age, and for what reason?
The second encounter happened when I was eight. It involved another male in my life who was a neighbor down the street from where we lived at the time. Once again this was another person that was trusted to be with me and someone I had a connection with, which was something that was hard for me to do. When he started to abuse me like what had been done to me in the past, I knew that this was wrong and it felt wrong.
I linked these feelings to my previous encounters of sexual abuse early in my life. When I was assaulted by this individual, he would always tell me to keep it a secret and that it was something that friends do and if I ever told anybody I would get in trouble.
Or that he wouldn't be friends with me anymore.
How completely fucked is that to hear at such a young age?
By this point in my life I was being taken advantage of and felt that I had nowhere and nobody to turn to because I felt so horrible and ashamed of myself. It took me several years to finally inform a family member of what was happening, at which point the perpetrator was arrested and I never saw him again.
So one might ask, how do these past events affect me now as an adult?
The answer would be simply this—they affect me every day.
There is not a day that passes by that I am not affected by these horrible things that happened to me. If you knew me personally and you were able to see my personality and the way that I carry myself, you might not be able to tell that for the most part that I am putting on a brave face.
Deep down, I am really hurting.
A lot of these experiences have really caught up to me in my twenties, along with stress, which has, in the last six months or so, led to depression and high anxiety. This is something that I've never dealt with before, and when it first came to light it scared the living hell out of me. So I sought help from a doctor and was prescribed Zoloft and started seeing a counselor, which has helped.
But I know that there is still so much more work to be done, not only with myself but also with my relationships with others. To this day it is still hard for me to trust anybody and when I finally can trust somebody it is hard for me to maintain that relationship because I fear that they will betray me or leave me.
This has affected so many of my past relationships and now that I am married and have a little baby girl now, I am trying to find ways to maintain these wonderful relationships that I have currently in my life and make damn sure that my daughter will never experience the shit that I have seen and felt in my life, and know that there are positive relationships to be had and to avoid the bad ones at any cost.
Getting myself and my story out in the open has really helped me in my recovery and I hope that anybody that reads this can get some sort of comfort out of this and know that you're not in this alone.
About the art:
I have known Colby since our first football practice, freshman year of high school. So, since 2002. It's been 14 years since we met. And when Colby reached out to share his story, my heart was simultaneously broken and joyful. I hated learning that anything terrible could have ever happened to one of my best friends from back in the day. We played baseball together. We listened to Incubus together. We went swimming together. This entire time, he held in this reality. This lack of trust in any one around him.
But he persevered like no other person at that age. I am proud of Colby for sharing this story. It's beautiful and tragic, but he is still alive and finding solace in his experience. Which is why I am thankful to have created this piece for him.
Colby is a HUGE fan of the metal band, Bring Me the Horizon, so I was really excited when he asked me to create him a piece based on the song, "Doomed," from the latest BMTH album, That's the Spirit! The quote was a bit long for the 11x14 canvas size standard we set for these pieces, but since I love it so much and because I love Colby so much, I made an exception.
I used colors based on Colby's love for Kobe Bryan, so the LA Lakers' purple and yellow, which match well with the other colors that actually show up in the inside gatefold of the vinyl edition of That's the Spirit! You can see that image above.
We're only three stories into this project and we've shared one from an incredible person in my life and I'm so glad that Colby has found some solace through this project.