Speak Up- Thoughts from a sexual abuse survivor

I have received numerous amounts of messages of love and support from friends, and people I don't even know, since posting my story of being molested. The more I hear about your stories and your lives the more I feel the need to talk more about it. This topic is usually on my mind but I have been thinking about it sincerely for weeks, and there are so many things I want to address. So many feelings. This is meant to be an encouraging post so I hope you feel it comes off that way.

Wow, Where to start?

 Oh! I know- I just want to start by talking about the "victims". Like I said before, I don't like this word. I also don't like people that choose (yes, choose) to be the victim. Every victim of sexual, emotional or physical abuse has a choice to make- to be a victim or to be survivor.

 And these two words will change your life. Change the way you view yourself, your children, others and the world. Everything.

To be a victim:
1. a person who suffers  from a destructive or injurious (hurtful/damaging) action or agency
2. a person who is deceived or cheated as by his or her own emotions or ignorance

I love that in the world wide dictionary it says "agency" and "by his or her own emotions". This is what I got from that, Choosing to be a victim because of hurt feelings. Now listen, I am not downplaying being sexually abused, I hope you know that. It is an excruciatingly painful business, but the point I'm trying to make is, it doesn't have to be.

Now, to be a survivor:
1.a person who continues to function or prosper in spite of (in disregard of) opposition, hardships or setbacks.

To me the answer is simple.. now. I only wish I'd understood sooner.

  I feel such a power now. I feel so free. So liberated. Happy. (This guy makes me pretty happy)


I have so many thoughts and I tend to get very "passionate" (the word Chris likes to use) about this subject. So bear with me (I even looked up the word bear- it sounded weird to use like that but it means to "support", so I left it.)

It may sound heated or like I'm getting pumped up for a game but to me that's really what it's like- getting ready, educating yourself and your children, saying "no", defending yourself. I know that this stems from being molested and looking back at the completely helpless and defenseless little five year old. It use to make me angry and now I just feel empowered and motivated to educate and speak up for myself and others.


No one wants to though- I shouldn't say no one, but it sure feels like it, wants to speak up about these things. Because it's "not cool", embarrassing, shameful, sad, humiliating..
Guess what?! 
It's life and yes, it's sad and unpleasant. But it's like trying to ignore a neon pink elephant in a room.

We can't. We shouldn't.

 Why though, why is it painful to talk about? I have an idea from my point of view.

After this happened, I felt like the only "freak" who had experienced something like this because no one talked about it. I was the only "broken" or "damaged" girl. The only one. Heaven know that's not even close to true but I felt like it. Had I met another women (survivors) who were willing to talk with me, things may be different, they may be the same. Who knows?
I do know that I would have felt more normal, more comforted, not completely shattered.

This, right here, talking about it is giving me (and other survivors) power. The less we talk about it the more they get away with it, the more power they have. I am not going to freely give it anymore. For a long time I did, I played the victim card. After a while it gets old. And I promise you, this side is so much better. I guarantee you he didn't think I'd be the one talking about it now. He knew he could get away with it then, but look where I am now. He isn't getting away with it anymore.

Since I realized what happened to me didn't define me, I have been determined to be the one to talk about it, as painful and ugly as it is, to help others deal with the aftermath.

To be a survivor, not a victim.

And as I've mentioned before, it took me a long time to "forgive and forget", so to speak. Going through this trail I have become so passionate about educating and helping others. I often wish I could be a motivational speaker, a therapist or a counselor so I can share my knowledge and passion with other women. That has been a dream of mine for a couple years now. Since I am in my birthing and raising children years, this probably isn't the right time to pursue this dream, but please believe I will not give up on it.

I want to share the peace and happiness I have found through overcoming this.. I want to scream it from the rooftops! There is no need to feel ashamed, ugly, embarrassed, humiliated, hurt. There simply, is no need. I don't feel ugly, I don't feel sad, I don't feel defiled, I don't feel unwanted.

 Even though I felt that way, on and off, for a good fifteen years, my only wish is to help women cope faster than I have. Being a "victim" of sexual abuse makes you feel ashamed, ugly, embarrassed, disgusting, not wanted and broken. Here's the thing.. you aren't. You did nothing wrong.

{I was able to hear Sister Dalton speak to our stake this last week and I had a really cool experience with her.}
She was speaking about our individual worth, and motherhood. It was very encouraging and uplifting. I was so grateful to be there. I had most of this post written before I went and I kept thinking, "That would be so cool if she talked about being sexually abused". I still went, knowing that wasn't the topic.
About half way through, she paused, and said

            "If you have had your virtue taken from you, there is no need to repent. You did nothing wrong. You are still a daughter of God and He loves you."

Then finished the rest of her talk about individual worth. It was crazy. I felt the confusion in the room when she said that, but it hit home for me. After she was finished speaking, a whole line of women lined up to talk to her. She was so kind to take her time, listen and give advice to these women who desperately needed it.

My dad was assigned the "security" for her and had to walk to her car after it was over. I wanted to talk to her but I didn't want to wait in line, nor tell her a sad story. The Stake Presidency and some of Sister Dalton's friends walked out to her car and that was my opportunity. My friend (who got Sis. Dalton to speak) introduced me to her and I told her little about me and what happened when I was little. I told her it wasn't a sad story, but more of a victorious one. She smiled and asked me more about it. I told her I started a blog and I talk a lot about my journey and I am trying to help women heal.
She seemed so pleased. I told her that I was shocked at what she said about being sexually abused and she said,

"Sarah, I have never been more prompted and inspired to say anything before, like that. I kept putting it off, and questioning myself. I thought even that these women don't need to hear this and I heard a distinct "Yes, they do". So I said it. I felt better after I did and it turns out, more women talked to me about that than anything else".

What?! How awesome is that? She told me to keep doing what I'm doing and it will get to the women that need it. Such a huge compliment for me. She was so encouraging. I just love that inspired woman.

Somehow being raped or molested leaves you feeling dirty, used and defiled. That's why most predators get away with what they do. We are too afraid to speak up because we feel guilty and embarrassed.

Overcoming something as terrifying and lamenting as being sexually abused takes time.
It takes a lot of time. It takes support. It takes love.  I love this quote-

       "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

So if you need support, I am here to lend you my advice. If you need to cry I will lend you a shoulder. If you need help, please seek it. Bishops and therapists are so loving and kind. Being on the other side of hurt and sorrow is love and joy. It's worth talking about. It will change your life.

With love,
Sarah



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