The Survivors Speak Interview series is dedicated to amplifying the voices of survivors by providing a platform to share our stories and connect us through experiences and healing. Read stories of childhood trauma as survivors share their pain, their hope, and their healing.
Anonymous Survivor, Colorado USA
Please share what inspired you to share your story.
I am finding my courage to connect with other survivors and allowing myself to be inspired by them; I also am finding my voice to join with theirs so we can continue to diminish the shame and stigma of CSA and create a world that will be as inhospitable as possible for abusers and their enablers to thrive.
Introduce yourself: tell us about your passions, interests, family life, favorite quotes, etc.
I am a forty-five year old survivor of childhood sexual abuse and C-PTSD. I have been happily married for twenty-five years to the most kind and loving man I know, who is steadfastly walking through this wilderness alongside me as I heal from some incredibly complex trauma. I have had the privilege to raise and educate three sweet boys at home, ages 16, 18 & 20, with the youngest currently finishing his last year of high school.
We have lived in seven different states throughout our marriage, never in one place longer than four years, and my husband is anxious to stay put in Colorado for a while; I, on the other hand, could happily be a gypsy–so we got a camper to hopefully help me with my urge to wander. We love spending time camping, hiking and fishing in the mountains. In my spare time indoors, you’ll likely find me crocheting or playing Minecraft or Stardew Valley while listening to podcasts and audiobooks.
Please share your story in as much or as little detail as you are comfortable.
In my early thirties, I lost a very dear nephew in an accident; he was the passenger and his best friend and cousin on his other side of the family was the drunk driver. The grief I was experiencing from losing him was overwhelming–he was more like a little brother to me than a nephew, as he was only twelve years younger than me and I helped raise him during my teen years. Accompanying the grief was intense anger directed at the close-knit community I grew up in and my own family who dismissed the prevalence and danger of underage drinking and driving: the underage driver being well over the legal limit was not the problem in their eyes, the speed at which he took the curve was. On top of all of these overwhelming emotions in the months following his accident, I began having intense flashbacks of being sexually abused by an uncle and cousins when I was a little girl.
I suffered in silence for over a year before writing down everything I could remember and giving it to my husband to read. From there, I found a therapist and began my healing journey. In those early years, my focus was learning to manage the flashbacks so I could carry on with my duties as a mother of three young boys and feel safe with my truly good husband.
When this all began, I had already been dealing with a lifetime of health problems that doctors could not help me with. I began researching the connection between early childhood trauma and autoimmune disease and other health issues and was finally getting answers where the medical establishment and their alternative counterparts gave me none. This led to me waking up to just how much medical trauma I had also been living with after a lifetime of misdiagnoses and treatments that did even more harm–not to mention three C-sections in less than five years, two with serious complications.
After a decade since the initial flashbacks began, I felt I was in a good place and “healed enough” from CSA. We built a beautiful home on my husband’s family farm in Missouri–our sons were the seventh generation to live on the land and within minutes of both sets of grandparents. It was wonderful–until it wasn’t.
After a few years, I was really struggling with autoimmune flareups, triggers, and despair on a level I hadn’t experienced before. Years earlier we had lived in Arizona where the high desert provided much relief for my physical symptoms, so the pandemic proved to be the opportunity we needed to once again move out west for some relief. But it wasn’t until after being in southern Colorado for several months that I was able to see what had really been going on with me living back in my Missouri hometown.
I had associated some of my chronic health struggles with living so close to the Mississippi River, as I fared so much better when we lived in other areas of the country. But now it became clear that while yes, my body was exhibiting so many physical symptoms, some of which may indeed be exacerbated by the climate and toxic farming practices there, the root of the issue was not just the sexual abuse I endured over many years but also the insidious trauma suffered by my family-of-origin.
And this is where I find myself in my healing process these days: diving into all the hideous layers of abuse from a mother with her own undealt-with trauma story, the abuse from much older sisters who were fun one minute and utterly cruel the next, a complex religious upbringing, a tightknit community where abuse, underage sex and drinking were rampant and either ignored or dismissed by adults, an emotionally absent father, and an extended family system that continues to dismiss and cover up the abuse of a pedophile uncle against who knows how many victims within my extended family and the preschool he helped his wife run decades ago.
What are some of the challenging ways your trauma has manifested in your life?
One of the most challenging ways my trauma has manifested over the years is through physical ailments: chronic migraines and sinus issues from a young age (which resulted in overprescribed medications that wrecked my immune system), chronic pain and fatigue that began in my early teens, chronic inflammation throughout my body, including my heart–all of which I am thankfully understanding and managing much better since healing from trauma.
A more recent life-changing manifestation the past couple years has been intense triggers while playing piano, organ, and singing. I am a talented musician and have been employed or involved in church music since I was a kid. I’m learning where the more recent triggers are coming from and am working hard to heal those areas, but I no longer play and don’t expect to ever return to performing in the ways I once did. Losing that part of my identity while trying to uncover my true identity outside of that one has been very challenging.
I also struggle with maintaining close friendships with women, especially well-intentioned Christian women from our former faith communities, and have had to let most of those friendships go. I’m currently estranged from my mother and have been enduring a lot of painful interactions with my family-of-origin since finally disclosing the abuse to them this past September.
When did healing begin? Was there a catalyst moment and how did you reach this point?
In my early days of healing, my first therapist was seminary-trained, employed by our church, and a lot of the focus was less on bottom-up healing methods and just really hyper-spiritualized. The sentiment was along these lines: Yes, you experienced really horrible traumatic events, but in what sinful ways have you responded to them?
It was not until more than a decade later that I began diving into the growing research and science around trauma and incorporating more bottom-up tools–many of which are viewed as being “worldly” or “unbiblical” by my former tribe.
What has your healing journey looked like day-to-day: techniques, modalities, practices, tools you use?
Some of practices I find most helpful to me today are qigong, writing, meditation, and breathwork. I have been helped greatly by the Curable app in the ways it teaches the connection between the mind and body and uses practical tools to help me incorporate new habits into my daily routine.
What are two or three things you have learned as you heal that you believe are important for survivors to know as they heal?
One of the most helpful things I wish I had learned early on in my healing journey is the importance of my physical body and finding ways to feel more embodied. Understanding the ways I dissociated years ago and the many ways that has been compounded by the hyper-spiritualized framework I was raised in and found safety in throughout adulthood has been pivotal. Unlearning those harmful ideas and being okay with where I am today in opposition to many of them has been very isolating as I find myself outside of my former tribe, but I’m determined to continue healing and growing and strengthening my voice on behalf of myself and all survivors.
Additional Thoughts From This Survivor
As harmful as the actual sexual abuse events were to my young body and brain development, healing from that has not been nearly as painful for me as engaging the family-of-origin trauma. As I’ve heard said somewhere: It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a village to abuse a child. The deep, intense feelings of betrayal by a “good Christian” family have been by far the most confusing for me to understand and heal from.
Thank you for sharing your story brave warrior!
Share Your Story
Sharing your story is a powerful part of your healing journey. It helps you find and reclaim your voice and it helps others who are trying to find there’s. It lets us all know that we are not alone when we can connect through shared lived experiences.
If you would like to share your own story with the Surviving Childhood Trauma community, please use the link below to submit it.
Looking for Ways to Connect With Other Survivors and/or Receive Support as You Heal?
Survivor’s Circle Peer Support Groups might be just what you need.
These small groups meet on alternating days of the week via Zoom. In these groups, survivors connect, share, and support each other through the ebbs and flows of healing. Attend a session and experience the magical healing that happens when survivors connect and support each other through shit only we can understand.
You can also book individual 1:1 peer support sessions with Shanon for private support in a closed space. You deserve support as you heal, and I am here to help. You don’t have to heal alone.
On the Journey Peer Support Monthly Package
As a part of this monthly support program you will gain access to all Survivor’s Circle Peer Support group support sessions every month as well as individual 1:1 peer support sessions with Shanon each month.
Hi, I am Shanon
I am a trauma informed, trained, and Certified Peer Support Specialist in the state of Wisconsin. I am also a survivor with years committed to my own trauma healing after being diagnosed with (C) PTSD due to childhood abuse. Additionally, I have a professional and personal history of community facilitation and peer work.
I specialize in helping survivors like you make connections between real time experiences and past trauma wounds, identify and communicate boundaries, create self-care plans that work, navigate big emotions and trauma responses, reparent your inner child, and embody your own self-worth through the healing process with confidence and personal empowerment.
These support groups and 1:1 peer support sessions should not replace professional therapy; they will however provide additional support and information.
You must be logged in to post a comment.