Help and Hope for Today’s Sexual Abuse Survivors
Triumph Over Trauma
win or achieve success, to prevail, to obtain victory
emotional shock, bodily injury
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela
If you have been sexually abused, you are not alone.
You can heal from it. I promise you. You can be de-victimized. Because you are just like me. Sexual abuse will always be a part of who and what we are but we don’t have to let it control our lives forever. We can view it as the glass half empty or half full.
The sexual abuse was damaging and the trauma does not end when the abuse stops. But hidden in what happened to us, in every trauma, is our greatest gift. It made us who we are today. It shaped us, it formed us.
The positive outcome, is that sexual abuse and trauma survivors are the most beautiful, rich, deep, spiritually full, clever, funny, persevering, hard working, caring, compassionate, brilliant, intuitive, soulful, driven, goal oriented, no excuses, can’t be stopped warriors and fighters, the most inspirational and unstoppable heroes that I have ever had the honor to meet and know. Sexual abuse survivors have accomplished more personally, and professionally and impacted other’s lives more than any other human beings. We rock! You do! And so do I! We are the survivors, the movers, the shakers, the tough-as-nails, no excuses, no hold’s barred warriors in life. You are all my heroes.
Our survival through the worst of childhood made us deeper more caring people. Think about it. Who would you be today, if not for the abuse you suffered as a child. Would you be the unique, aware, loveable, heroic person you are today?
We have had to seen human nature more complexly. Life is not simple for us or easy. We have had to fight our way through our own feelings and emotions to function, raise families, love others, give to our community, participate in our houses of worship. We have had a unique human experience. We can allow it to destroy us, our faith, our health, our ability to love, to have relationships, careers, abundance, or we can see it from the other 180 degree angle–as a gift–one not asked for, but certainly one we can learn to appreciate and honor.
Here’s What I’m Learning From My Sexual Abuse
Here’s what I am learning after thousands of years of therapy (it seems) a lot of pain, hard work, jail time, losing most of my family (who sided with the perpetrator), and going public with my story:
Resting in this great trauma was my greatest gift. My gift is compassion. There is no pain or situation that I cannot relate to and empathize with. I have learned compassion for pain, fear, trauma, injury, emotional hurt, trauma, disappointment, hardship, and loss. There is no pain, I cannot relate to or feel compassion for. Others are comfortable around me, because they know that I understand them, don’t judge them, and love them for who they are. It is true. It is what I learned from the sexual abuse and my terrible childhood. I learned to love others unconditionally and understand and look into each person’s heart. That has allowed me to be one with you and others.
If you can see that in the greatest trauma of your life, lies your greatest gift, you can triumph over the trauma. You would not be the incredible, smart, loving, intuitive, wonderful person you are today. It will always be a part of who and what you are but you do not have to let it control your life.
You Are Not Alone
Know this. You are not alone. I am here and so are many, many other survivors and caring people. One out of three girls and one out of five boys are sexually abused by the time they reach the age of eighteen. Sexual abuse happens to children of every class, race, culture, religion, sexual orientation and gender worldwide. Fathers, stepfathers, brothers, sisters, mothers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, neighbors, family friends, babysitters, teachers, doctors, and strangers abuse children.
Reach out, step forward, and use your voice. Speak up and speak out. Each of us, can help other victims or the next possible victim of childhood sexual abuse, by speaking up, speaking out in our families, in our communities, in our houses of worship.
One time at Costco, I saw a mother pushing her shopping cart with one hand, and beating her terrified young son with the other. Members at Costco stood around horrified, but no one did anything. I went up to her, and told her that maybe she needed a “break” and I would watch her cart while she calmed down, but she wasn’t allowed to continue hitting her two young sons. She then raised her hand to hit me. I made two phone calls: The first call was to 911and the second call was to the news desk at CBS. I told her the police were coming and the media. Did she really want to keep hitting her children?
I will never forget her son’s face when I stopped his mother from beating on him. He looked at me like an avenging angel–awe mixed with gratitude. No one apparently ever stopped his mother from abusing him. I wanted him to know that what she was doing was not his fault and that it was not okay. It would have meant everything to me, if someone, even once, had stepped in to stop my mother from hitting and abusing me. It would have changed my life. I would have known then, what it took me 20 zillion years in therapy to understand. It is not your fault.
You Can Heal
Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t remove the handprint of the trauma. You can. I did. And if I can, so can you. I figured out how to do it. It was a combination between traditional therapy and transpersonal counseling and lots of help in between. Child sexual abuse is like a tattoo. You can try and hide it, cover it up, even try and laser over it. When I met this wonderful therapistand and started working with him, I had had hours and hours of traditional talk therapy. And even though I was de-victimized, I couldn’t remove the body memory and the stain of the sexual abuse. That is why I recommend that you get special help with someone who understands how to unlock the trauma and put it in its place.
If you’ve ever met a sexual abuse survivor claiming they’ve never felt sorry for themselves, never feel like a victim at one point or another, odds are they are lying or not human! And I am no different! Am I always in a good place? No. Do I feel like a victim some days? You bet. It’s not the easiest job in the world to leave a positive impact on people when you are struggling sometimes with the same issues. When I feel like a victim, it usually has nothing to do with the things you might think I would gripe about; as it rarely ever relates to anything pertaining to my abuse. And I’m not immune from letting my trauma overwhelm me – I have learned complaining and making excuses does not help or serve me in any way! Even though I fully believe that, I still thought about giving up, and going back to my old life, hiding, voiceless, letting others step up.
But then I realized that greater than the tragedy of sexual abuse, is the tragedy of living a life without actualizing your gift. Having recently had a near-death experience, I am determined not to waste this lifetime. And yes, it is a struggle!
For the past few years I have made it my personal mission to reach out to survivors of sexual abuse whenever I can.
We need to come together to create a movement for survivors of sexual abuse. We are the last frontier of those victimized without a true national presence and awareness. Break silence, be brave, come together to make a difference. It’s the only way to protect our children, help with the healing journey, and build awareness. So that we can get child sexual abuse and assault.