My name is [X]. I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and rape. Those words typed or uttered used to make me feel the following: Silence. Gasp. Disbelief. Fear. Disgust. Shame. Violated. Broken. Dirty. Sick. Used. I always remembered what happened to me even though I did become very good at not feeling. Derealization and dissociation were the saviours of my childhood. I honestly used to tell people I had an amazing childhood, not that it was easy but that overall it was good. And, that’s partly true. There were many positive aspects that I am now learning to focus on but first I had to go into the darkness of my memory bank to process a whole lot of trauma.

The first time my abuse really came to the surface where I could no longer cope was following a life-threatening emergency. I spent a week in the cardiac intensive care unit and had another major heart procedure to “fix” me, the whole while developing symptoms of acute PTSD that were not then recognized. I was having vivid flashbacks, couldn’t sleep, and thought I was going insane. I went to therapy for 6 months, scratched the surface, put it all back away and moved on. (Sort of). The one good thing out of this was disclosure to my husband and a few close friends.

Fast forward to summer 2016. Things were going great. I had a wonderful job, 3 kids, an amazing husband, a pretty cushy life including lots of travel and adventure. I was running consistently and became obsessive. Part of it was fueled by dissatisfaction with my body. I realized this has been a lifelong issue and sought out a new therapist. I developed a really good working relationship with her and over several months the magnitude of the abuse and effects on my health and happiness as well as my personality became too much to accept and keep to myself. This February 2017, I took back my voice.

I thought, this is so unfair….how could this happen? How didn’t someone ask me what was going on? How d
id they miss the clues? Was I so insignificant a human that nobody noticed my absence for lengthy periods of time, away from the family group, often more than weekly??? This happened over a period of 10 years from about ages 3 to 13 or 14 years old. Then my first teenage boyfriend wanted to “fool around”. I said no. He didn’t listen. It was violent or painful this time but I didn’t want to do it. Is that even rape? Do men just do what they want when they want?

So many questions and so much to learn about my body, the memories, and the anxiety and depression that has resulted. In addition to that I went into treatment for both childhood sexual abuse as well as an eating disorder. I’m now well into the healing journey. I don’t think it ever ends. You just become stronger. You become real. Raw. You peel off all the fake layers you present to the world. Put yourself out there. Every time is a brave step of uncertainty and a battle, but every time is a small victory. I will no longer remain silent. I will Just Show Up. I will show up for myself, for others who have found their voice– but most of all for those who remain silent and afraid. For those beautiful souls, may you find the strength to heal. You are not alone and it was not your fault.