7 Reasons Why I Started Sharing my Story of Childhood Sexual Abuse

Liberating

Telling my story is one of the hardest things I have ever done: it has also been rewarding and even necessary for my mental health and well-being. The little girl that I locked away so many years ago, along with all the pain and fear that she lived with, has gotten loud. She is demanding my attention, begging for my comfort, compassion, and understanding. She will not be ignored any longer.

As a victim my voice was silenced.

My innocence was stolen by someone who was supposed to love and protect me, my confidence destroyed- and the world became a dangerous and scary place. Even now, as a survivor, I still often feel like the victim when I dig in and work on processing my past. It is so raw and intense.

When I write and share I go through a gamut of emotions; I am scared, I am anxious and embarrassed. I wonder if anyone will believe me? I wonder, am I talking about my past too much and being selfish? Am I making people uncomfortable with the weight of my truth? Does anyone even care anyway?

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I feel all these things; that is how I have been hardwired. I was threatened often about speaking out: I was reminded, repeatedly, that no one would believe me. This was reiterated to me when I did eventually tell my dad, at a young age, and he told my abuser I was talking.

My basic needs as a child were met: food, clothing, and housing; however, my feelings as a child were never a priority – I had no real friends, no hobbies, and no one to love me, and tuck me in at night.

Now, 20 years later, I am committed to owning my story. I am speaking up. I want to heal; functioning is not living – and I  want to live!

Here is why I have decided to share:

It is Empowering

Sharing is empowering. Sharing is liberating and I believe it is necessary. There is absolutely no way to describe the weight of childhood trauma or the anxiety and fear that come with the journey to recovery. My innocence was stolen from me. I lost all control over the sovereignty of my body and I lost my sense of Self. When I share my story, I take back control over my life. I take back control over my body. I take back control over my feelings. Now, I can focus on healing from the abuse.

It’s Okay to Feel It

I need to teach myself that feeling it is okay. As a sexual abuse survivor,  I learned early on the importance of a protective shield from all feelings – physical and emotional. It is a hard defense mechanism to rewire. I am learning how to feel – all of it, which is not easy.

My therapist asks me often to identify feelings which over time has taught me how to reconnect to my body. In those early days, I was very disconnected. As I reconnect to myself and my emotions, it has been uncomfortable and intensely painful at times, but it has been very rewarding as I learn to lean into my grief as I process it properly.

I need Support, Help, and Compassion

I need the support, plain and simple. I can’t do this on my own. Support is crucial to the recovery process and it can be found in many different places. My support system consists of my therapist (we use EMDR and CBT therapy techniques) my husband, my children, a few close friends who are also survivors. Now, hopefully the community I create here.

I cannot stress enough the benefits of understanding from loved ones or their help with coping. The support makes me feel less isolated, as I try to keep from drowning in all the chaos. The support helps me accept that my feelings are important and that others do care.

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Connecting with other Survivors 

We are stronger together. I want other survivors who are not yet sharing to know they are not alone. There are others of us struggling, daily, to carry the weight of our sadness and pain without it spilling all over the place, too. Together we can all hold each other up.

Real Talk about Complex PTSD and the Healing Process

I hope I am shedding light on the real recovery process for trauma survivors. Trauma recovery and healing is messy, and a bit chaotic at times.

My trauma is not a flash point in my life, it is a part of who I am. It has influenced how I perceive things and how I respond. Through therapy I am learning to manage my triggers and develop coping skills for the party bag of symptoms. Healing is a daily choice for trauma survivors, not a final destination.

We do not get over our trauma, we learn to integrate it into our lives and live with it, and the lifetime affects can be hard to reconcile.

A Reference Point for Loved Ones of Survivors

 I hope my sharing helps loved ones and friends of trauma survivors better understand the complexity of recovery.

Trauma never goes away.
Anything in everyday life can become a trigger.

People who have never experienced a traumatic event have no point of reference for understanding. That is okay. In fact, I often tell my husband I do not need him to understand. I just need him to be with me in the space, so I know I am not alone when things get heavy.

The best way for our friends and family to help us is to be trauma informed, and who better to inform them about the affects of trauma, than an actual survivor.

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It’s my right!

This is my life, my experiences, my pain, and I can talk about it all I want. I am done protecting the people who did not protect me. It is time to care for myself and the scared, and lonely little girl within. It is time to love and nurture her, and myself.

For me, that means sharing, even when my voice shakes.

It is your right too! If you want to share, consider being a part of my Survivors Speak Interview Series.


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14 thoughts on “7 Reasons Why I Started Sharing my Story of Childhood Sexual Abuse

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    1. Thank you so much! Sharing has definitely made a difference in the amount of control I feel I have over my experiences and my emotions. It is empowering and it is rewarding.

  1. I am also a survivor, daily learning how to live with CPTSD. I wanted so much to meet someone who could tell me what recovery looked like. I knew, intimately, what trauma looked like but what did recovery look like? There weren’t too many resources so I’ve also become vocal about my recovery in hopes of helping light the way for other people. Good job. You nailed many parts of it.

    1. Thank you! CPTSD is no joke, constant curve balls! More and more of us are speaking up about the horrors of childhood abuse and how it affects us in adulthood. I am so glad to connect with other survivors.

  2. Beautifully written & so true. I feel so much of that. Am going to get my husband to read it, I think it will help him to understand. Thank you.

    1. Thank you. I am glad to hear this piece resonated with you, and I hope it helped your husband understand a little better what we go through. 🙂

  3. Hi Shanon, I stumbled onto your blog and I must say this entry really shook me. I’m at that crossroad where I’m trying to decide whether to share my story or not. At the moment I’m still leaning to the “not” option. I relate with so many things you’ve said… the thinking that no one would believe me… whether it’s worth dredging up things from the past… things that has the power to devastate me if I dwell on it. The other major component is the paralyzing fear. What if someone I know reads my story? What if it changes their opinion of the person that I am? What if I dredge up every trauma in my life and people think I’m a depressed person focusing on the past…What if HE reads it? Not ready for that, heavens no. But I do admire you, facing your fears and actively dealing with it. I hope someday I too will have the guts to do the same. If it’s ok, I’d like to keep track of your story, it really hits close to home. I wish you well!

    1. I am so glad that my story resonated with you. That is why I share, so we all know we aren’t alone and the fears and anxieties we feel are normal, that we aren’t as isolated as we think.

      I completely understand the fear of judgement, that’s one of those negative cognitions hardwired into us – “We aren’t good enough, worthy of being heard, believed and cared about”. I’ve gone through it too – finding that sharing with strangers is easier than sharing with friends. I am lucky however, in that those who hurt me are long dead now.

      You will find your voice when the time is right; until then, be patient and understanding with yourself. And feel free to follow my story so you can see just how “not together” I really have it as I deal with all of this. 🙂

  4. Wow you are brave and wonderful. I have nothing but love and respect for you. Thank you so much. Our voices are healing.

  5. Yes! Every word of this resonates with me. Finding our voice after abuse is such an empowering part of healing. Thank you for using your voice to speak and share your truth.

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