"And she always had a way with her brokenness. She would take her pieces and make them beautiful." ~ R.M. Drake
I want to emphasize that this quote can also read as He in the places that it says she: "He always had a way with his brokenness. He would take his pieces and make them beautiful." I want to intentionally bring men into this quote, because they experience this brokenness as well.
This blog is especially close to my heart and I wanted to write it because of the EXTREME lack of awareness and support around those who have experienced sexual abuse. Read My Story to learn more about my passion for this.
I assume you saw Lady Gaga's performance on the Oscars, and if you didn't, you have probably seen the performance all over the internet. What a POWERFUL performance and a huge step for her to take in writing such a song. I was surprised to hear that a song like this was performed at an awards show. Those types of events are supposed to be ALL happy. Sexual Abuse is not happy. However, Sexual Abuse deserves awareness and I am thankful that they would let her perform such a song on national television to rase the awareness around it. Sexual abuse is not often talked about and is very hushed in our society. Just hearing the word sexual abuse could make someone cringe and while that cringe is worthy, avoiding the issue is not.
Sexual abuse has impacted 1 in every 4 girls and 1 in every 6 boys (which I would argue is inaccurate due the under reporting that occurs because of the stigma that comes with being a male who has been sexually abused). It is the same with eating disorders. It has become absolutely more well known that women struggle with eating disorders, whereas many people do not think of men struggling with eating disorders. Therefore there are more resources out there for women. There are not as many resources for men who have eating disorders, and the same goes for sexual abuse. Society just assumes that if we are not hearing about the incidents that they are not happening, when in fact, they are happening at an alarming rate - the incidents are just not being reported. This is not to say that it is more painful for men than women, the pain is equivalent no matter the gender. The reason I bring this up is because there is such a stigma that comes with men who have been sexually abused, which keeps them from reporting that they have experienced sexual abuse. While we can acknowledge the lack of reporting for men, I would argue that this issue also exists for women, just not at such an alarming rate. Reporting needs to happen no matter what, as it could potentially save someone else from facing the same experience, as well shining light on the perpetrator's actions.
When you look around a room of women, 1 in every 4 brings about a scary reality. So what are we doing about it? What are we doing to help those who have been sexually abused? What are we doing to stop future instances? What are we doing to bring awareness to this issue so that there is not such a fear of bringing it out into the light? This kind of darkness should not remain hidden, it needs to be brought out into the light to be handled and prosecuted. It took me 5 years to come to terms with just how much my abuse was affecting all areas of my life and decide that I had the courage to report it. I had completely changed as a person. In coming forward, I had to completely face the hard facts of what happened and be willing to have everyone judge me. Yes, judge me. Isn't that weird? Often times, unfortunately, people tend to side with the perpetrator, because they are charismatic and have portrayed this image that does not show the dark side of them - the side that victims often see. I had to come to terms with making something public that brought me so much shame...However, in order to take my power back and bring myself justice, it had to become public. While it was easily one of the most difficult experiences that I have ever faced, it was well worth it. I took my power back and spoke up about what had happened. I faced the darkness and brought it out into the light. I hopefully saved another victim from occurring.
I share my story, because I want to encourage you, if you have faced sexual abuse, bring it out into the light. Don't carry that weight alone. Talk to someone about it - seek out a friend, family member, or counselor.
THIS IS NOT YOUR FAULT!
I could not say that to you loud enough, with too much emphasis or too many times. There is no fault on anyone, other than the perpetrator. This is not your fault, this is not your parents fault, this is not your friends fault, this responsibility is on no one but the perpetrator and they are the only ones that should face the responsibility for it. It does not matter what your situation looked like, you did nothing wrong. There is such a term called "Grooming". This is the beginning stages that occur before the sexual abuse and it is a way for the perpetrator to convince you that everything that is happening is normal because of the relationship that has been established and often times that is when the manipulation begins (but it doesn't look like manipulation - it looks safe). This is often the stage that things are tested to see how the victim will respond and then it escalates from there. This stage is usually when you are convinced that somehow you are at fault for this. I do not care what was said to you during this point or throughout the abuse - THIS IS NOT YOUR FAULT!!! You did not deserve the horrific acts that were taken against you.
What if no one believes me?
Often times this is the biggest fear that one will face in coming forward. I am so sorry if someone has not believed you. If this has happened to you, it can be the worst feeling to be invalidated and have someone tell you that they do not believe you. It is absolutely defeating and one of the worst things you might face in this journey. But, if someone says that they do not believe you, please do not give up in getting your story heard. There are people that will believe you and support you. If you are willing to seek help for the abuse, there are doctors, counselors, law enforcement that will believe you and take you seriously. Please reach out to them for help and support. Your story deserves to be heard and validated.
What will people think of me?
This is scary. We live in a society where we strive to seek approval from everyone around us. However, I will tell you that if anyone judges you because of these horrific acts that were done against you, then they are not people that are worthy to be in your life. This is not something that you chose and this is not your fault, so if people think that this is your fault, they are highly uneducated about this subject and extremely naive. Now, I will say that due to the lack of education and awareness around this subject, this is going to happen, unfortunately. People do not do all of the research and are bound to make judgments against you in their own naivety. But again, if they do not search out all of the facts and make quick judgments, those people do not deserve to be in your life if that is a judgement that they choose to make against you instead of the perpetrator. You did nothing wrong.
You are a Survivor. Not a Victim!
This shift in language is powerful. Victim implies that your power has been taken away. Survivor proclaims that you are empowered. TAKE YOUR POWER BACK! Someone committed a horrific act against you. In changing the way you refer to yourself, you not only bring yourself respect, but you also decide that you no longer are under the control of someone else and that you own your own life and your body. This is a journey, it is hard to start seeing yourself as a Survivor - but you made it through an event that was horrific and you used that strength to survive. I want you to know that it is possible to accept yourself as a Survivor and know that you are the only thing that brought you through that experience and I am here to help you through that journey. Do not face the journey alone, because at times it feels more than what is bearable. I will tell you though that no matter what stage in your journey you are in - YOU ARE A SURVIVOR!
You Can Make a Difference!
I am such a huge advocate for empowering. It would be so easy for us to be discouraged and crawl into a hole and never come out. However, because this issue is so rampant in our society, you can choose to own your story and go help others who have experienced this same type of situation. This is one of the biggest reasons that I continued on in my path to becoming a counselor - so that I could help support and encourage others who had experienced this horrific event in their life. I can say that no doubt this happening in my life has made me stronger and I have CHOSEN (yes, it is an active, everyday choice) to let it empower me and make me a better person. It would have been so much easier to hide from it and let it bring me down. But I chose differently. I chose to take the bull by the horns and ride it out in life. I chose to embrace my journey and see it as an area that I could continue to grow in. Now, don't get me wrong, this is still and always will be a HUGE struggle in my life in so many ways, but it is something that I have chosen to be public about to best reach out to and support others who have faced this same journey. Be a bright light in the dark world of sexual abuse.
YOU HAVE VALUE!
This can be THE hardest thing the believe after you have faced an experience such as sexual abuse. This is often the first thing that flies out the window when having faced abuse. It is hard to feel that you have value when someone was willing to completely invalidate you and your voice. However, others do not determine our value - we do. No matter what anyone tells you, you have value. From the time you entered this world you had value and without you, this world would be missing a huge piece. You are who you are for a reason and you were brought into this world to make a difference. You are valuable and loved, no matter what anyone tells you and there is nothing that can take that value away from you!
"I finally understand that people hurt me because of where they are in their own lives; they are expressing their own brokenness - NOT MY WORTH." (RescuedRestoredRedeemed)
A wonderful resource for adult survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse is the WINGS Foundation. I am currently working with this organization in helping Survivors learn more about how trauma affects their body, as well as working with Loved Ones of Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse. They have done amazing work in bringing awareness to Sexual abuse but also providing support groups for Survivors and their Loved Ones.
Empowering you today,
I would love to hear from, you, please do not hesitate to send me an email or leave a comment below. If you are comfortable calling me, I would love to talk to you: 720-336-0913. Or you can schedule a session now.