I got a message from you today and you told me you wished you were as brave as I was so you could start your own blog about your own sexual abuse as a child. You feared many of the same things that I did when I began mine. What about people’s reactions? Their family and friends responses and the shame that you anxiously feel when you wonder if people might look at you differently? What might change if you tell the world that you too are one of these statistics, that you are one of the one in the three?
I get these messages and emails a lot. So it isn’t just you that feels this way, I always say “we are not alone” and it’s true, we’re not. I receive these messages from women who tell me they wish they had the courage and the bravery that I do, just like you did.
But in my eyes I am no braver or more courageous than any of you.
What I do is necessary to me, for me. It is necessary for my own mental health to not hold a painfully big secret so tightly to my chest anymore. I held it in for 18 years of my young life, and eventually my cup was full, my world was falling down around me and I couldn’t live that way, with this cup spilling dark murkey liquid all over my fresh white sheets.
So I did something I’d never done, I wrote about it, and spoke loudly about it. I almost screamed it. And it helped me. I was brave before and I was just as brave after.
I always tell these women (or men, they’re victims too, though mostly it’s women that reach out to me), you are brave, you are courageous because you are here, you are here dealing with this incredible pain that some people just can’t even fathom, this pain is a pain that some people die holding so closely to their hearts because they can’t bare it but you are here, though that doesn’t make those who couldn’t cope any less brave or courageous, it just means, it become too much for them.
You are brave because you message me to tell me your stories, to tell me of your pain and your struggle, about how hard life has been for you and still, you come here and compliment me on the good job I’m doing.
Bravery and courage are not always measured in the same cup.
I believe that even if you are only considering speaking up on a public scale, that is still bravery. Even if the idea of that consumes every piece of energy in your being, even if you cry in a ball over it for days, even if you chicken out over and over again.
You are still brave, even if you whisper it.
I know, that just thinking about the possibilities of speaking out about your own sexual abuse is incredibly painful, scary and daunting. The thoughts of “what if they don’t believe me, what if people think Im seeking attention, what will my friends or family say?” run through your mind and hold you back from ever speaking loud enough for others to hear.Merely a whisper in the ear of someone hard of hearing can terrify the core of who you are because what you might be considering could change everything.
I had so much shame around my abuse that I would lie awake at night thinking I was this disgusting human, that I was a disgusting child. I think that part of my not ‘coming out’ about it until I was in adulthood was all related to shame, because I felt dirty, because I felt like I was the ‘naughty one’ because I was a sexual object to a “man” that was much too old to see me as one. That right there is real shame.
But you know? We don’t have to be ashamed, you don’t have to be ashamed either because this; this wasn’t your fault, this wasn’t my fault, it was the person who did its fault and those around us that didn’t see.
I know you worry about the reputations of those around you, the ones that couldn’t, wouldn’t or didn’t know how to protect you as a small child from the nasty people in this world.
But my love, what about you?
What about the fear that engulfed your small body so much that you could do nothing by lie there, frozen while someone took your innocence; innocence that was never seen again.
What about the sick feeling that you got in the pit of your stomach every time you heard those footsteps because you knew right then that it was that time again.
Or every time you felt a hand slide around you regardless of who it was that you would stiffen immediately because you though that maybe if you stayed still enough it’d stop.
Or what about each time you thought, “If I scream, will I be in trouble?”.
What about your developing personality that he shattered over and over again, giving you irreparable damage to your developing brain. Causing you to live with anxiety and PTSD well into adulthood.
What about the depression that still haunts you around every corner, its waves that curl around your body engulfing you for months and years at time, until you almost can’t bare it any longer.
What about you? When you sit on the shower floor, eyeing off that razor blade and wondering how long it might take you to bleed out before someone found your lifeless body.
What about you?
This is about you, and no one else. Its about you, and how you feel, its about you and your mental health and about your life, its about the childhood that was taken from you, a childhood that no matter how hard you work on yourself will never come back.
If you want to write, draw, or dance through your pain, if you want to scream your story from every roof top then you do that and don’t you dare once look back.
If you can’t, because the fear is too much, know that I will be here then, to remind you that even if you can’t yell it from even the lowest stoop of your own house, that I will still be here to remind you that you are brave, and you are courageous even when you say nothing at all.
Other peoples opinions on this don’t matter because it didn’t happen to them, it happened to you.
Scream now, because you couldn’t then, scream it now, because you can.
So, my love, what about you?