Cherry DeJesus looks at a photo of herself as a 4-year-old girl in her New Jersey home on Feb. 26, 2023. She’s a survivor of child sexual abuse and experienced hypersexualization as a child. Credit: Chantel Philip/Word In Black

Cherry DeJesus was a young Black girl growing up in Paterson, New Jersey, in the 1970s. She knew earlier than most: no one was going to protect her — not even her own mother.

DeJesus says she was molested by several family members and neighbors. Her earliest memory of sexual abuse was at age 5.

“I don’t know about protection,” she says.

DeJesus’ aunt was her babysitter growing up. Her aunt’s husband would abuse her while her aunt was asleep after working the night shift.

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