My name is Joelle Casteix. I was born and raised in Santa Ana and still live in Orange County. I am an advocate and a leading national voice for other adult survivors of child sexual assault like myself.
As a teenager I was sexually assaulted by the choir director at my high school. He deliberately targeted me because I was vulnerable. I had spent time in a psychiatric hospital for a suicide attempt. My mother was an alcoholic. My father was in denial. I yearned for a strong adult figure in my life.
I did not yearn for an adult to repeatedly sexual assaults and rape me on school property. By the time I graduated high school, I was pregnant and had a sexually transmitted disease. And like most victims, I lived with crippling shame and secrecy.
I have devoted my career to being a voice and a source of empowerment for other survivors who, until now, were muted by their shame.
Child sexual assault is different than any other form of predatory behavior. No other assault silences its victims so successfully.
The shame is so deep, a victim will not even tell their life partner until their 30s or 40s, yet California law demands that they come forward decades before they are able.