I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and rape. I was sexually abused at age 5 and at ages 11-14. My painful past, which I had largely repressed, spilled forth when I was 19 years old and I attempted suicide. The memory that led to my suicide attempt came flashing back was when my perpetrator tied my wrists to a pole, put a gun in my mouth and raped me. I had bottled up so many feelings and unspoken words which manifested in unhealthy coping mechanisms. With each incident of abuse, my perpetrators threatened my life and those of my loved ones if I dared speak the truth. I felt shame and isolation. Somewhere inside I carried the truth alone, but for years I could not find my voice.
Through the grace of God, I found the help I so desperately needed. I had to reach deep inside to find the courage and strength to face my painful past. Slowly, with the help of a wonderful therapist, I began to climb out of the dark hole I had fallen in to. The light hurt at first. The anxiety, panic and terror would surface as I remembered the unspeakable acts done to me, but I held on and had faith that I would get through this journey.
I found writing, dancing, swimming and taking walks in the woods to be helpful in my healing process. For me, being surrounded by nature;I was able to see beauty again and to find my footing on solid ground. I felt more hopeful with each step I took. Writing helped me to feel a safe expression of my feelings and experiences, and also allowed me to discover an expression of what I had been through. My body and my feelings were soothed by the water. I felt power in my body, which had once been robbed of me, as I took each stroke through the water. I was able to find an avenue of narration through dance and movement. My body could express what my voice could not. I could feel my strength rising.
My faith had been shaken and my fear turned to anger at what had been done to me. I realized I had turned the anger inward against myself. I have steadily learned to direct the anger where it belongs-to my perpetrators. I went through a grieving process as well. The loss of innocence, the loss of ownership of my body, the loss of my voice, the loss of my mental and emotional health, the loss of my ability to trust people. The tears and the sobbing turned to screams of anguish.
I am finding the courage to speak my truth. I will not allow what happened to me to rob me of precious and glorious moments in my life. I will no longer be silenced or be stripped of my true strength and abilities to survive, thrive and grow. It truly takes a village of support to navigate the healing process and challenging times; to learn to breathe again; to learn to fully live again and to embrace ALL of me.