By Nathanael Durbin

Photography by Nathanael Durbin

Photography by Nathanael Durbin

Have you ever felt like you were trapped? That no matter what you did you were never going to get out? That if you ever tried to ask someone for help, you’d end up causing more pain and suffering for those around you that you love? I have.

I remember the first time I ever physically felt trapped. When I was younger, my dad used to wrap me up in an itchy, thick, heavy quilt. So tight, that I couldn’t move. He’d leave me screaming and crying because I felt suffocated, paralyzed, trapped. I’d finally pass out from over exerting all of my energy in trying to get out. Eventually I was set free. I was told not to tell my mom or anyone for that matter about it. He said, if I did he’d burn the house down with my mom and sister at the time inside that became sisters a few years later. From such a young age I was scared to ever say anything to anyone. I was trapped in a mental prison. That was just the start.

Eight years of mental abuse, physical, emotional, domestic, and even sexual abuse. Things no child should ever have to deal with. I became shy for the longest time. Eight years of holding in a secret that I thought if ever brought into the light would end my life and the people I loved most in the world. Every time I smiled was a way of hiding what was really going on deep inside of my mind and what was going on behind closed doors. The only time I ever felt truly happy was when I was on stage singing, or playing a different character. Because in my mind that character wasn’t going though what I was. For a little over two hours I was free. Theater became my escape.

Finally, when I was almost thirteen. My dad was locked away for life with six life sentences without parole. I finally had the courage to say something. It was a huge weight lifted off of my chest. My mind was for the first time in eight years at ease. I felt safe. I went through several years of counseling and eventually I could talk about it and not get upset or bursting into tears. I became a stronger person than I ever thought I could be. All it took was telling the truth, and bringing the darkness I was going through into the light.

I say all of this to let you know that no matter what anyone tells you. You have the power to set yourself free. It is very scary and sometimes hard. But once you do, you will be free. Abuse is never okay. Speak up and let your voice be heard. Don’t ever give anyone the power to silence you. You are your own advocate. Strength comes from setting yourself free. I don’t let my past define who I am as a person. Nor should you.