Behind the smile



Arianna Wilkins, a survivor not a victim.

Fearless, witty comebacks, understanding and even a bit blunt are all characteristics you would answer if asked about Arianna Wilkins. Smart, determined even. Playing piano in her school band and being on the yearbook staff as well as being an artist of many sorts, she is anything but dull. But, just how there’s more behind the cover of a book, there’s more to this story than it seems.

“It started when I was six. It started small, but as I got older it got bigger. The only thought running through my head was, ‘Other parents didn’t do this to their children. They didn’t hurt them like this,'” Wilkins said.

Growing up, Arianna was abused by her father. For nine years, Arianna hid this secret out of fear of being hurt and what her loved one’s reactions would be.

“As I got older, things just seemed to go downhill. I tried to fight back when I realized it was wrong but it was no use. I could explain a bruise, but how was I go to explain a broken leg? It just wasn’t an option”

Then things got worse.

“It was when I turned eleven that I hit rock bottom. The worst thing that could have happened, well, happened, then my parents split and I didn’t know what to do.”

But Wilkins did find one way to cope with her chaotic life: she took up drawing.

“That was really when I started using drawing and writing as an outlet. It let me explain and express the things that I couldn’t say”

Then things took a turn for the better. January of 2018 Arianna had to go away from home for four days. Which resulted in a panic attack which leads to her confirming what her best friend Bree Schmitt, had already started to suspect. On January 15th of 2018 Arianna’s story of being a survivor of abuse was told for the first time.

We all want to hear a happy ending to this story, but we need to be realistic. However, things did get better for Arianna after telling her boyfriend and aunt. Then she told her mother and her mother’s reaction only reminded her of why she didn’t want to tell someone in the first place.

“Her reaction made it really really hard, I had to go move in with my aunt because she didn’t want to talk to me,” Wilkins said.

But since then Arianna has been living with her aunt, Erin Zolman, and has been on the road to recovery

“Yeah there are bumps in the road, but I’m taking it day by day, just trying to get by. I’m taking my time and one day I’ll be fully recovered. Until then, the most I can do is try my best. Which I am”