Seventy one years ago, I was raped by a so-called neighbor. He was 26, I was 11. I was taken to a doctor in a state of shock as I had no idea why I was being examined n that way. Evidently, the doctor didn't know I was in shock, though she should have. Neither did my mother. 

As the doctor examined me, she asked if I felt anything. I said I did not. I was numb. The words out of her mouth should have been, "Oh, you poor child, we will make sure he will be punished." But those were not the words that came out of her mouth. What she said, as she looked down at me with an accusing and angry face, was, "You're a bad little girl."

My mother chose not to make an issue out of it to protect herself from neighborhood gossip. In reality, she was protecting a child molester. 

I'm 80-years-old now and wish that people could understand the power of words. Sexual and physical abuse are rampant today and overtime that kind of pain can fade. But the power of words lasts a lifetime and deep within me I still believe I'm a "bad little girl."

Hannah Joseph, Bakersfield