Sexual assault survivor finds peace after joining AF Published May 10, 2013 By Airman 1st Class Klynne Pearl Serrano 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- (Editor's note: "This story is a personal, victim-submitted account of an actual sexual assault and its aftermath. The names and identities of the individuals involved have been omitted or altered to maintain confidentiality"). Remembering the pain in her dark and terrible past, Airman Jackie Jackson, a sexual assault survivor, bravely shares her story. "I was very young--around two or three years old--when my stepfather started touching me and rubbing between my legs," Jackson said. "At that age, I didn't really know what it all meant. I got older and he continued to molest me. He told me that if I told my mom or anyone else, they wouldn't believe me and that I would be blamed for everything." This all went on until Jackson was 15 years old. She gained courage to approach her youth pastor and told him what was going on at home. "My pastor helped me tell my mom and we called the local police department," Jackson said. "I was then sent to the hospital and the PD started an investigation. I don't know all the terms the doctors used, but basically everything inside of me was intact so the hospital said there was no evidence that any sexual intercourse had occurred. The PD also conducted a lie detector test on my stepfather and he passed." Jackson felt hopeless. "Just like my stepfather said would happen, my mom blamed me and said I was jealous and I was trying to destroy our family," Jackson said. "He wasn't living with us during the investigation, but as soon as it was over, my mother let him move back in." Jackson then started to rebel and thoughts of suicide haunted her. She started to cut herself because she felt that inducing pain was the only thing she had control over in her life. Mentally and physically exhausted fighting a battle with herself and arguing with her family, Jackson needed an escape. She enlisted in the Air Force and left a week after her high school graduation. "For a long time I didn't cope with my past," Jackson said. "And I think it was really my career [in the Air Force] that saved me." Jackson later learned about the Victim's Advocate program through the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program. "When I heard about the VA program, something struck inside of me," Jackson said. "I knew this was my calling--to be the voice for someone who temporarily lost theirs, to be the hand for someone to hold and to tell them that they will survive this. I knew that if I could help just one person get through what I went through, then maybe somehow it was all worth it." By joining the Air Force, volunteering to be a VA and spending time away from the roots of her dark past, Jackson found peace in her heart and mind. "I have forgiven him," Jackson said. "I was angry for a long, long time and it took me nowhere. That gave him the power over me. By forgiving him, I got the power back--I got my heart back and I am a stronger woman and mother because of it." "I am not a victim. I am a survivor."