Anneka Salmon Crossley – from victim to victor
Today, Anneka Salmon Crossley is one the Governor General's I Believe youth ambassador - an initiative that has seen her reaching out, being motivators and offering mentorship.
But there was a time when Crossley yearned for an understanding ear, someone to talk to. Instead, she suffered in silence.
"This is why I embrace the chance to reach out to others, showing them that there is hope," she told Family and Religion.
For three years - from age seven to 10 - she was molested constantly by a family member.
Living with her grandparents, not having her mother around, she was forced into silence by her abuser, who never missed an opportunity to threaten or put her down.
"He told me that I was black and ugly," reminisced Crossley.
In between his nasty taunts, the threats would come. He told her that if she ever told anyone about what he was doing to her, he would cut off her head and throw her in the gully. At other times, he would tell her about 'the black heart man', a myth that used to have children petrified.
Alone, scared and miserable, she endured it until she got out from under his thumb. A bit older, she still kept silent as, this time, she feared other people's reactions if she shared what he had done to her.
"I felt that they would not believe me and think I wanted it to happen, so I didn't say anything although I was still suffering inside," she said.
It was a heavy load to carry though, so much so that she attempted suicide three times, but God had other plans for her life. Each time He ensured her efforts failed.
At age 16 in 2001, while attending Denbigh High School, in her final year, she got pregnant. According to Crossley, it happened because she was looking for love and comfort in all the wrong places.
Her daughter's father stuck by her initially, but the relationship turned sour.
Five years later, she was again in another relationship, having her second child. Her partner's constant cheating had her again walking out with the vow that the next time she had a child, it would be for her husband.
man of her dreams
She found the man of her dreams - Dwight Crossley - and, today, they have three children together.
"We are both Christians and he is so supportive," said Crossley, who now works as a security guard in between serving as a mentor and hosting a Facebook page called The Voice in the Voice, where other persons who have been abused - emotionally or sexually can share their stories and encourage each other.
Every Wednesday evening, she also makes herself available to talk with those who are facing similar situations.
"I don't know if it's the stigma, or they are just too afraid, but most times, it's just one person who comes out. Many tell me they are afraid to share their stories," she said.
For Crossley, it is an emotion to which she can relate as, not so long ago, her husband had to force her to deal with her own issues.
"Although I shared my story with him, I still had trouble with intimacy," she said. It all came to a head one night when he tried to hug her in her sleep and she started flailing and hitting out at him.
"He told me, 'Babe, you have to deal with this because you are hurting, and you are hurting me too'."
It was then that she decided to go public with her story.
Encouraged by a friend at the Clarendon Parish Development Committee, Robert Williams, she decided to tell her story in a letter. She later applied to be a part of the I Believe Ambassadors programme.
Crossley will be the first to acknowledge that is not easy to open up about sexual abuse, but she is encouraging those who are dealing with it to talk about it.
"If you don't, you will never be healed ... . You will be constantly hurt," she said.