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. A childhood dripping with family betrayal and so much loss.
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
My whole childhood was spent in silence. 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. Isolated and alone, I felt dirty, unwanted, unloved.
No 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. Then I 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 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 offer a level of understanding only other survivors can give
Sadly, the only people, who truly understand what living with a childhood of sexual abuse 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, they just do not understand. Regardless of how intently they listen to our stories and help us work through our memories, this pain is inexplicable.
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 pain and grief is comforting. 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 are further ahead in their recovery
I am only a few years into my healing journey 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. They call it delayed onset PTSD.
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. Meeting other survivors has helped me see this.
Other survivors provide a wealth of advice, tips, and resources
From other survivors, I have learned coping techniques, found books to read, and connected with leaders in the field of child protection advocacy on social media and through websites. I have also networked into Awareness Campaigns and found local events to attend. I even reached out to my state government regarding legislative review and proposals.
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 cope with this type of trauma, are those who have to live with it too.
Reading through other survivor blogs and connecting with survivors on social media 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. 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.
We can also celebrate each other as we heal.
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