Today, in the United States, there are over 30 million adults who have survived child sexual abuse and more than three million American children are victims. Most of these children struggle alone and silently, believing there is no one who can help them. I know now is the time you’re going to make lame ass resolutions about how you’re going to exercise more, eat better, and be a better person, but please make it a priority to talk to your children about sexual abuse.
To save the greatest number of children in the shortest possible time, we must change focus of our efforts as parents and guardians. Instead of focusing on “stranger danger”, we need a more concerted efforts toward protecting children from the abusers who are not strangers – the people in our own families and the molesters who are the friends of our families. If you need resources to get the conversation started, please click HERE.
Talk to your kids about anything, so that you can talk to them about EVERYTHING.
Below is an letter a dear friend penned a few days ago about her horrific experiences at the hand of her own father.
Yesterday marked 3 years since I checked myself into a hospital room. Wanting to die because I didn’t know how to live. I call the day my “Re-Birthday” because it truly is when I came into existence and fought for myself. A self that at the time I wasn’t even aware that I had.
So, today I am standing here ruminating on the past 3, and 31, years of my life. I am standing here to tell you choosing yourself is so incredibly worth it. And hell. And beautiful. And hard, terrifying and sometimes drives you to the brink of your very threshold – wondering if you can survive the process. Trust me, my loves, you can survive it and you will if you are willing.
Today I am choosing to finally share my story with y’all, in the hopes that it may help someone else.
I wanted to die 3 years ago (and sadly, many times before that). I was pretty fresh off of coming home from caregiving for my father. At the time I didn’t know better. At the time I believed it was my role, my job, as a loving, “good” daughter to fly east and care for my father; my main abuser and source of terrible dysfunction and crippling views on life and love. I didn’t know it would literally almost kill me to be alone with him for 2 weeks. But I learned. I dove headfirst into being there for him.
You see, my father had been an active alcoholic my entire life, and long before I came along. I grew up being trained as a wife more than a daughter. I grew up in a war zone – a home with no boundaries or real safety. Where locks on bedroom doors were removed and love was twisted, manipulative and sexually and emotionally abusive. I grew up learning to have no voice or self. These things had been robbed from me. Stolen by the very people who were supposed to be their protectors. I became the protector of my family and it’s emotional needs. I learned how to walk barefoot on eggshells and glass, and to do so with a smile. This was the story I had been told, who I had to be to survive in my family. I had to be the selfless, loving, responsible one. Nobody else could or would. I was taught that without playing that role and being the perfect daughter, my parents would crumble and fall apart. That I wouldn’t be loved if I tried to have a voice or play the role, and that when I tried to have a voice it would be continually stifled, not heard, covered up and told it was bad.
By my teenage years I had grown deeply depressed. And into a woman. I slept on my living room couch every night for a year because my bed wasn’t safe. This was a pattern that followed me into adulthood. I was setting my own curfews and routines. I reached out for help. Most couldn’t see the truth I was desperately trying to tell. I was lost. Hopeless. Regularly subjected to molestation, covert incest, resentment, anger and not being good enough. After months of breakdowns and pleading – certain authorities in my high school took notice. I was put into therapy where I was dosed with up to 11 different medications a day and told I was simply clinically depressed. Again, a poor child being robbed of her voice.
This young girl was the same one who flew home without hesitation after her father had fallen while intoxicated one night and fractured his skull. The same girl who at 27 years old let her father pick out a sexy black bra for her and purchase the new outfit and bring her as a date to his reunion. The same girl who formed a relationship with one of her rapists because she thought that was what love was. This is the same girl who flew home and three weeks later wanted to die.
She is also the same girl that checked herself into the hospital. Reached out and asked for help – because somehow she never stopped asking for it. That somehow fought for life and the light and for herself. And has grown into the woman I am today. I speak with this little girl regularly, and let her know she is seen, loved and safe. Now the task is on my shoulders to be her protector and I do so willingly and not so fearlessly sometimes.
I became and was so important to myself that I have fought and continue to fight tooth and nail for myself. I checked myself into intensive therapy twice a week shortly after my hospital visit. Paid out of pocket while working for minimum wage. Fighting for yourself is not pretty or easy. It means facing all of your demons face first. Sacrificing; a way of being, believing and thinking. Also in practical and financial ways. It means being willing to risk it all and do whatever it takes, and having faith that on day maybe the clouds can and will part for you, too.
I am standing here 3 and 31 years later. I am ME. In a life that I have built and fought hard for. I have found financial stability, a voice, great love and myself. I have had to make decisions no one should ever have to. I have had to completely cut my father out of my life. Change careers. Battle depression, post traumatic stress disorder, and distorted realities. I have had to parent myself. Break completely down numerous times only to be rebuilt.
And I am here. I still fight. I still face demons. I always will. It isn’t easy. It is the hardest thing in the world sometimes.
It is more than worth it. A bad day today is better than the best day before I started this process.
You are worth it.
Fight the fight and know that you are not alone. That you are more loved than you could possibly know.
Risk taking that first step into the rest of your life. You won’t believe the possibilities and results if you do the work.
Today, I am living proof of that and eternally grateful for my life and the process.