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.
Aleksandra’s Story, Arizona, USA
Please share what inspired you to share your story.
I feel like sharing what I’ve been through might inspire others to know they’re not alone. I often feel alone and like no one understands.
Introduce yourself: tell us about your passions, interests, family life, favorite quotes, etc.
I am almost 21 years old, I live by myself with my adorable and sweet Pitbull.
I am in college at the moment studying to be a Naturopathic physician.
I love music, being outside, art, I love to draw, and spending time with my friends and dog.
I grew up with my mother and father and little brother, I no longer speak to my mom or brother but have a good relationship with my dad. My boyfriend who has been the biggest support and rock has been with me for two years and is my favorite person.
Please share your story in as much or as little detail as you are comfortable.
To start I was adopted from Ukraine after being in an orphanage for a little under a year and half. My parents had been together for almost ten years and my mom couldn’t have kids. I was brought into the family and then a few years later my little brother was adopted as well.
I grew up with an extremely emotionally and physically abusive mother and honestly pretty neglectful father. My mom is very narcissistic and has Munchausen’s by proxy. I was a spirited child and loved learning and life, I loved to read. My mom often saw my independence and highly active nature has a problem and a threat. My brother was much more docile. She preferred him.
I don’t remember much from my child hood. I remember the first time my mother put her hands on me was in an attempt to kill me. We fought often and when I was seven years old she attempted drowning me. There were many incidents before then according to my family but I cannot remember. My entire childhood was fighting and therapy appointments and more fighting. I was often locked in my room with no food. Made to sleep outside in the Washington weather. Hit, slapped, cursed at. Made to do chores in order to eat or shower. I had no friends because I was never allowed to go on play dates.
Throughout all of this I was diagnosed with bipolar at age 10. I was told I was the problem and I that I was tearing my family apart. At 11 I was sent away to a residential facility for the first time. I was made to spend hours in isolation and told that I was crazy and needed to grow up in order to be a good kid again. My mom lied to everyone. My dad went along with it in order to not upset her. A few months later I came back home. The whole cycle started again. Ups and downs, some good moments, and then back to fighting.
When I was 14 it got so bad they sent me away again when one of my school friends called cps when she saw bruises. I was brought to a residential rehab in Oregon where I was sexually abused by my therapist. Made to sleep in a cement room with no food and no water and drugged out of my mind. ( I had been on acuity level antipsychotics since I was 10) I was raped with a knife and beaten severely. I was taken out of that program and sent to a different one and then when the new one didn’t work either according to my parents I was sent away to a troubled teen program in the middle of Montana. I was at reflections academy for three years. In this time I was mentally tortured, isolated, told I was crazy and worthless.
My parents were never allowed to know what happened in that program, not that they would care. My friends were being sexually abused and we all were being brainwashed. I was put on complete isolation for three months, no human contact, nothing. I finally made my way through the program and graduated.
Went home to my mother and father getting a divorce.
I was told I was the reason why. My mom told me she wished she could have gone back and picked another kid and that she would always choose my brother over me. Despite this I had straight As and graduated high school. It was covid so I had to start college at home with my mom. That was so hard to not be able to leave.
I finally got the courage to leave six months after I turned 18 and went to go live with my dad. It’s been nothing but uphill from that point. Through out all of that I was given severe concussions consistently, I had brain damage, female problems due to the rape, my heart hurts.
For at least a decade of my life every single day I contemplated suicide and even attempted a few times, I was punished for that too. Nothing was every good enough, I was always stupid and ugly and disgusting. I was always the problem.
There are so many more details but I think this is sufficient.
What are some of the challenging ways your trauma has manifested in your life?
I have trouble trusting people. My physical relationships with people have to be extremely delicate. I find myself being controlling and angry and emotional often. I have PTSD and extreme anxiety.
When did healing begin? Was there a catalyst moment and how did you reach this point?
When I left my mother’s home part of me knew there was no going back, ever, and in that moment I decided to survive for myself and not to please her. It’s a battle everyday, two years later I still feel like someone is crushing my heart. But it’s so much better to know that there is a love outside of that abuse and that there is love waiting for me with other people and that I am capable of so much more than I ever thought.
What has your healing journey looked like day-to-day: techniques, modalities, practices, tools you use?
I use a lot of grounding techniques. Sensory tools like ice and soft things. Having my dog has been a genuine life saver. I moved away from Washington for a fresh start and that has been incredibly helpful. I am in therapy and find that talking through things and being mindful is helpful. I’m not very religious but I try to hold on to some type of higher power and work on letting go through them. I rely very heavily on my support system often asking what is real or not, after being brainwashed I can get very confused.
What are two or three things you have learned as you heal that you believe are important for survivors to know as they heal?
First, that it wasn’t your fault. I struggle with this everyday due to the nature of my trauma. But nothing could make it my fault. Nothing could make it yours.
Second, that healing isn’t about validating the trauma and remembering everything and telling everyone or even forgiving, it’s about giving yourself the space to feel and to think and to know your worth it no matter what and that’s what takes time.
And last, that there is a life outside of the darkness. That there is beauty waiting around every corner, and it’s one step at a time.
Thank you for sharing your story Aleksandra
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.
My heart goes out to you! What courage to share. xoxoxo