One of four girls will be sexually abused by the time they’re 18-years-old. 17-year-old Jessica Mitzel of Sioux Falls is among them.

“My story begins right away! As young as I can remember I was abused sexually, physically and psychologically, All of it continued until I was 14-years-old. That’s when the abuse ended. Shortly afterwards I went to several treatment centers for anorexia and PTSD.”

During the many years of sexual abuse by a friend of the family, Jessica was reluctant to be around others.

“I didn’t trust people. I started self injuring. I wouldn’t eat. I had a lot of issues. I just managed to survive. I also attempted suicide a few times. The first attempt was when I was four years old. I tried to hang myself. When I was 14-years-old I had plans to kill myself. But, my guidance counselor found out about it. When I was 15-years-old I cut myself in an effort to die. I’ve been in the hospital several times for trying to kill myself.”

Jessica blamed herself for the sexual abuse.

“My abuser told me I was at fault and I believed him. He told me there was something about me that made him pick me. I was special so I figured it was me.”

So, why did the sexual abuse drag on for years?

“I didn’t know how to make it stop. I didn’t know I could make it stop. I was afraid of telling anyone. So, it went on for years.”

Once Jessica revealed what was going on, she got help!

“Right away I was horrible and went to treatment centers kicking and screaming. I did not want help. Yet, I was so worn out by living this way anymore. So, I began putting in the effort to get better. This was my choice, my decision. No one could force me although they tried. From my experiences, you can’t force someone to get better. They have to want it.”

If you have been or are being sexually abused, Jessica offers this message of hope!

“I think the most important thing is to open up and talk about it. Not getting it in the open doesn’t help anyone except the abuser. I can tell you once you start talking---you start to feel better.”

Jessica Mitzel has since written a book about her experiences titled “Not Your Princess.”

“It just got published on Amazon and is about my story---beginning with the sexual abuse and then going into the treatment centers. It’s my way of helping people. I have already had several individuals reach out to me. Just last night, a girl who had read my book said she finally told her mom about being sexually abused. It’s horrible that it happened. But, I’m so happy she’s not keeping it a secret. It’s a horrible secret to keep.”