When I started writing this blog about my trauma, I envisioned it as a landing pad for all the crazy emotions, thoughts, memories, nightmares, and anxiety I am dealing with. That was it; short-sighted, huh?
It is hard work trying to process and simultaneously integrate the reality of my childhood into my everyday life; a childhood of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse.
However, as I began to write, amazing things started happening. I started meeting other survivors; they were reading my stories, I was reading theirs, and we all began sharing both our pain and our compassion with each other.
Connecting with other Trauma Survivors has been one of the most powerful coping tools I have found and I want to share why.
Childhood sexual abuse is isolating and lonely
I have spent my entire life silent. During the majority of my most formative years as a child, I was taught to shut up and never speak about what I was experiencing. I was isolated and alone. I felt dirty, unwanted, unloved. I still remember my imaginary friend “Julie”; she got me through so much as a child, she never judged me, and always wanted to play with me. I did not have big birthday parties with friends or sleepovers at my house. I was picked on in school when I was not trying to be a bully myself. Childhood was lonely and scary.
I brought that lack of trust, the programmed loneliness, the hypervigilance, and all the negative side effects with me into adulthood. I have also executed all of it perfectly by keeping my circle small and walking away from negative situations and people rather than feeling it and dealing with it.
Connecting with other survivors has helped me find both clarity and courage when my illogical brain tells me to stay silent. There are many of us, and we all carry this pain. It is nice to have some help with the weight.
We can share our stories and receive a level of understanding only other survivors can give
The only people, who truly understand what living with a childhood of sexual abuse (in my case incest) is like, are those who have experienced it. As comforting as it is when our loved ones hold us as we cry, no matter how often they tell us they love us and are here for us, regardless of how intently they listen to our stories and help us work through our memories – they just do not understand, and that it ok. Still, it is fact.
Other survivors understand. We understand all too well how this type of trauma leaves a mark on the soul – forever. We have seen the disgusting underbelly of the human condition; we have seen monsters in real life.
Being surrounded by others who are also learning to live with the same eternal mark brings calm to my chaotic mind; being able to share the heaviness of my story with someone who truly understands has been rejuvenating – like a great conversation with a best friend over coffee (or wine). It helps lessen the weight I feel on my very being.
I find Hope among Survivors who have been working on their Recovery longer than I have
I am only nine months into my recovery after over 20 years of complete disassociation. For decades I never connected to my abuse emotionally, I never realized its effects. Then, just like that – it knocked me over and I have been struggling to get back up since. I often wonder aloud with my counselor if my tears with ever stop; will these flashbacks ever lessen in intensity, will my anxiety ever go away?
Connecting with other survivors gives me hope as I work on recovery. It gives me a front-row view of what to expect and how others have managed. Through my connections, I have found it easier to accept the lifelong effects.
We are a badass group of people, us survivors. We have seen the darkest of evils, often within our own families, and we have persevered, even when it feels like we have not. Meeting other survivors has helped me see this.
Other survivors provide a wealth of advice, tips, and resources
I have learned coping techniques, I have found books to read, I have found and connected with leaders in the field of child protection advocacy on social media and through websites. I have networked into Awareness Campaigns and found local events to attend. I have even been in touch with my state government regarding Erin’s Law, to see how I can help get this legislation passed in my state.
I have also received personal and heart touching advice on how to deal with anxiety, flashbacks, and the overwhelming sadness that follows me daily, through one-on-one conversations with other survivors. The only people I have found who truly know how to combat the crap that follows this type of trauma, at those who have to live with it too.
Reading through other survivor blogs, connecting with survivors on social media, sharing their stories and their pain has made me realize a few eye-opening things. We all think many of the same things, we question the same things about ourselves, we battle the same negative cognitions from childhood that have shadowed us into adulthood, we all feel equally broken and defeated at times, and we are all learning to live with it – forever.
We can offer each other a lot by way of understanding, solace, and information.
I welcome any survivors who want to connect, I am here, I see you, I hear you, and you are not alone!
If you or someone you know has been or is being, abused, please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline and ask for resources in your area – RAINN (800) 656-HOPE (4673), or you can live chat with an advocate online at https://www.rainn.org
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