Let me start by saying, every fiber of my being is screaming for me to shut off my computer, walk away, and keep this to myself. It’s my story and my pain. My cross to bear so to speak. However, I feel as though if I might share my story, then maybe it could help others that might have gone through similar situations. It has actually been a few years since the accident, but it took me a year before I could speak of it and when I did it was to my longtime childhood friend. She and I are just like sisters; she is the only one I have trusted with my secret until now. But since then, I have replayed the scene over and over in my mind, wondering what I could have done differently, when in reality there is most likely nothing that could have been done differently. There is still anger and frustration that bubbles inside of me because I am still trying to come to terms with it. Recently I began therapy for PTSD, which for years I have struggled with, nightmares and the whole nine yards.
For the last few days, I have been writing this piece over and over again in my head. Trying to find the words to say. Literally on a constant loop in the head; so that even my sleeping would not work at night. And finally, here I am sitting at my computer because clearly, I had something to say. But now that I am sitting here… this blank page is just mocking me and daring me to write something—anything at all. My arms feel as though they are tensing up; as if I just finished doing an upper body workout at the gym, which let’s be honest, I have not been to a gym in years. After the incident, everything that I used to enjoy seemed so pointless. I fell into addiction and lost the person that I use to be. Now that I am clean/sober, I don’t enjoy the things that I used to… Hell, I don’t really know who I am anymore. All of my eloquent thoughts that I once had are now gone, and in its place, I have nothing but anger and pain. It’s an odd sensation for me actually, because I usually find that I am able to disassociate enough so that I can share something worthwhile about this journey. Honestly, I have always been good at disassociating whenever it came to tough situations. Even as a child… I had a bit of a rough childhood. But I guess it is not going to happen tonight. Nope! Not tonight!
Maybe part of me is still fighting the truth. But I feel as though I have to prove to myself that I can be strong and take a stand against sexual violence because I have been quiet for too long. Cowering in the corner; cowering in fear… too afraid to move. Over the past several months', many brave women have stepped forward with their faces, names, and their stories, and in doing so opened up the conversation around sexual abuse. A conversation that is utterly shocking, disturbing, and scary; one that many people tend to stray away from because they feel uncomfortable discussing it. So why do sexual abuse victims stay silent? And notice I said sexual abuse victims; because believe it or not, men get abused too. They are just less likely to report it because no one normally believes them.
A few years ago, I stepped forward with my story at first and since then I am willing to admit many more things about myself. I have found out more things about myself since my recovery… which, let me just say, has been a long road. Verbal abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse—which is all embarrassing to put out there. Yet I have been through it… to hell and back. You don’t know if people will understand if you do take the step to say anything. You fear judgment and the questions. You fear people asking for proof. Sometimes you even wonder if people will want to see the physical scars that are left behind as a constant daily reminder, a constant reminder of the most difficult years of your life. You hope they don’t, but secretly you brace yourself mentally as well as emotionally. It’s all about of taking the step in stepping forward, being willing to share your story. It takes time working through the aftermath of an abusive relationship—or trauma of any kind. Time reflects the things within us that we try to hide.
My reflection came out through an increase in panic attacks, added social anxiety, and exhaustion. I wasn’t sleeping, and when I did I was waking up every other hour. I felt uncomfortable and nervous meeting with friends. I couldn’t make eye contact with people at the gym or the store. Something felt off deep inside of me, but I didn’t know what to say when someone asked if I was okay. So faking a smile became my new normal. I was frustrated as well as exhausted from trying to fight the way I was feeling. I thought that if I let the truth in, the shame and the guilt would come with it. I hadn’t even thought about the freedom that it might give; a freedom that I desperately longed for.
So night after night, I would say it out loud. I gave it words. Then started to sleep. Sleeping better than I had in years! Knowing without a shadow of a doubt that I had given a voice to my biggest truth.
Some individuals are comfortable sharing more. They find healing in sharing the more private details. And I say more power to you. It is your story and your truth to share, whatever is going to help you on your journey, so that you may find a place of healing and rest. That’s not me nor does it need to be. I don’t need to share the exact hurts and pains to know that what I say is true. I can simply say “Me Too.” A year ago, I wouldn’t have been able to say anything. I hope women and men keep stepping forward to shed light on something so rooted in shame and embarrassment. And I hope the stigma is eventually erased because it’s not our shame—it’s theirs.
Why did I stay silent? To be honest—I did not believe myself. And in that statement also lies my biggest warning to the a**holes out there who think they own the world and the people in it: It always comes out in the end. Fear has always been a huge silencer in sexual abuse, so let’s replace it with hope, strength, and validation; let's keep eradicating the silence.
I am not alone!
You are not alone!
We are not alone!