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Junot Díaz Pens Essay About Childhood Sexual Abuse

Junot Diaz.

In an essay for The New Yorker, award-winning author Junot Díaz describes how he was raped at 8 years old and how that abuse had haunted him throughout his life. “It fucked up my childhood. It fucked up my adolescence. It fucked up my whole life,” Díaz writes. “More than being Dominican, more than being an immigrant, more, even, than being of African descent, my rape defined me. I spent more energy running from it than I did living.”

Though he had often described sexual abuse in his fiction, Díaz says the shame from his childhood experience made him afraid to tell people about it directly. He addresses his essay to a fan in line at a book signing who had brought up the abuse in his work and asked Díaz if he had experienced it himself. The author was unable to respond in the moment, but writes in response, “Yes, it happened to me … I never told anyone what happened, but today I’m telling you. And anyone else who cares to listen.” Díaz also describes the hard work in therapy that brought him to this moment, and his attempts to cover up for his trauma before that by chasing after women. He has decided to talk about it now, he says, because he can’t keep hiding behind the same mask as before. “In Spanish we say that when a child is born it is given the light. And that’s what it feels like to say the words, X⁠—. Like I’m being given a second chance at the light.”

Junot Díaz Pens Essay About Childhood Sexual Abuse