November 18th, 1995, 18 years ago today, I boarded a plane in Atlanta by myself. I was finally getting away from the abuse. However, it took me years of on again/off again therapy and just simple time to finally free me of it. Perhaps that is still a work in progress.
At 14, I was handed a plane ticket and told I was going to live with my Mom and sister in NY. I was so conflicted. I was finally getting what I had always wanted, which was to be with my Mom, but at the cost of leaving everything and everyone I ever knew. As an adult now, I see this decision for what it really was. It was the coward’s choice. It was easier to send me away than admit and deal with the now exposed fact that for the last eight years of my life, I had been sexually abused by a family member, a man that was supposed to be my main protector. That choice taught me that I wasn’t worth fighting for.
Since becoming mature enough to understand the significance of that move in my life, I have dubbed today my re-birthday. This year I’m choosing to celebrate big. I’m choosing to unload the weight this secret has put on me. I know a lot of people will ask why tell such a secret? I tell it because secrets that hurt people aren’t supposed to be kept. This particular secret is hurting me. This shameful secret is a cancer on my spirit and it’s just finally time to let it go.
I’m tired of whispering about it. I’m tired of the misconception that what happened to me is rare. I am the statistical 1 in 3. Let that sink in for a minute. 1 in freakin’ 3. I’m tired of not acknowledging that being sexually abused has effected almost every aspect of my being including being a Mom. I’m tired of making sure the spine of my survivor self help books are not showing to ensure my company does not suspect I am damaged goods. I’m tired of this being the one subject that I won’t talk about.
People that could ignite a conversation about this are
not seeing ignoring the correlation between sexual abuse and addiction, self harm, psychiatric disorders and generational dysfunction. Between working in the field of mental health, and personal relationships, I have witnessed the common thread. I would dare say at least half of the “mental health patients” I work with have a history of being sexually assaulted. It is no coincidence that survivirs rotate through the broken mental health system.
At 32, I have learned how to mourn the girl I was at birth. I’ll never truly know her because the abuse killed any chance of her becoming who she would have been, in a sense, it killed her. I can’t say I’ll ever be “ok” with that but I have made progress on making peace with it. Being sexually abused at six years old, and for such a long time after that, created grooves in my brain that were never suppose to be there. It caused my system to go haywire at an age that I wasn’t able to process it being any thing other than normal. It created confusion and a lack of understanding of what safety, love, self worth, and healthy sexuality is supposed to be. Becoming a teenager only heightened everything and the residual affects of my child hood abuse led me down one too many dangerous paths. It poisoned me with shame, fear, anger and a lack of self worth that has lingered for far too long.
The abuse made me not who I am but how I am. Who I am is more than the parts of what happened to me. Figuring that piece out allowed me to make the transition from victim to survivor. Letting it all go has been the hard part.
For today, I will celebrate…maybe even get crazy and bake a cake. I will recognize the blessing that was that horrible, poor decision made 18 years ago today. I will let myself acknowledge the hell I went through and recognize the woman I have become, only in part, because of it.
60 thoughts on “Happy Re-Birthday To Me: A Sexual Abuse Survivor’s Coming Out Story.”
Happy re-birthday to you! It is indeed liberating to share your secret… I encourage you to celebrate!
Thank you…now if I could just get my nerves to calm down long enough to enjoy my “gift” to myself.
Well said! Many of us hide truth and allow the abuser to continue to abuse long after they are gone. Today you took that power away from him. Today you are free! Happy re-birthday honey! Have a glass of wine.
That wine is so very needed right now girl!! Thank you for your words. Thank you for helping get me to a place where I could even consider writing this.
so much in common…….happy re-birthday!
Thank you….and I’m sorry that you can relate.
Wow… I am so very proud & amazed by you!! You’ve kept this horrible secret for so very long & we’ve cried so many tears together…I am so very lucky to of had you in my life & as my BFF /sister by choice for the past 30+ years!! Love u!!
I wouldn’t have made it this far without you girl. The only thing I regret from that move was that I had to be so far away from you. Its amazing how close to my heart you still are…30yrs!!! That’s crazy.
I love you for who you are, who you were, and who you will become. You are a strong and brave woman..so different from the girl I knew. There are many ways our lives split apart 21 years ago. I have always felt like you hated me for abandoning you…I didn’t know what else to do. I wrote a paper after I left that I had to read to my class “The truth will set you free”. And it did. I have had many struggles along the way..and often wasn’t sure who I could trust to voice them to, but these things pass…and the truth becomes easier to tell. I know I am rambling. ..but the point is…some days it’s easier to accept and some days it’s easier to say…but it changed us forever many many ways.
I never hated you and I never felt abandoned by you. I knew you would have taken me with you if you could have. You were and still are someone I look up to because like me, life never seemed to be in your favor, and yet you’ve managed to make it. Thank you for reading. This truth has set me free.
Happy re-birthday !! I might have to make myself one of those since I hate real Birthdays and am also a one and three . Best idea I have heard all day. Only through light will the darkness recede, let your light shine . Also a salute to your courage, it is beautiful and refreshing!
Funny you used the word refreshing…it made me smile and I realized I feel like I took a deep breathe of fresh air…finally. Thank you.
Happy Re-Birthday! I am so sorry that the people who were supposed to protect and cherish you utterly failed to do so. You are beautifully and wonderfully made and so worthy of love. There’s no need for shame. Hugs!!
Thanks for the birthday wish and hugs. This was surprisingly easy to write but I paced a while before hitting publish. It was liberating and I am still feeling lighter this morning.
What matters is not what you were, but what you ARE.
And what I see is a very strong women who is holding on for the sake of her children and for her ownself as well. Happy Birthday dear. My prayers are with you and your beautiful family 🙂
Wise words that I take to heart. Thank you.
May I ask you, have you seen the movie “The perks of being a wallflower” ? 🙂
No I haven’t…should I?
I don’t know if you’ll like it or not but it is one of my favorite movies. I highly recommend watching it though 🙂
There is a quote in that movie, “It doesn’t matter where we come from, what matters is where we go from there” . Watch the movie and you’ll understand exactly what it means. It has inspired me, maybe it’ll help you too 🙂
I’ll have to check it out. Thanks.
You are welcome.
Tell what you think about it, after you watch it, It’ll be nice to know your perspective on my Fav movie 🙂
Happy Re-Birthday!!! we’re still celebrating in Vegas right:)
Happy re-birthday! I can relate….I wasn’t sent off, but I was forced to keep quiet. The part that really spoke to me is whe you said it made you not who you are but how you are. It’s so true. It’s almost like we lost our chance to have a real identity and we spend our adult life looking for it. I also really loved the part about them sending you off teaching you that you weren’t worth fighting for. Forcing me to stay silent and accept it made me feel the same way and looking back, I can see just how much that affected me. Great writing and I’m sorry this happened to you.
Thanks for reading this post. It’s not an easy one and I’m sorry you can relate. However, I have to admit it feels good to know I’m not the only one who can relate to these specific consequences of abuse. I’m glad you found my blog. I look forward to heading your way when I get a free moment. …a.k.a. bed time.
I know what you mean, it’s nice to be validated. Sometimes only those who have been through it can articulate it in a way that is helpful. I love that you will come by my blog! However, this is a second one I’ve only just started so, I don’t have much on it yet…..but I will.
Good for you missus! I’m also a 1 in 3, but not to the extent that you were, but know that sharing my story on here, which I’d suppressed for many years, was definitely a turning point in my life. God bless x
Thank you for reading and commenting. It’s almost strange to me how liberating telling my story has been. It’s completely removed that kick in the gut and urge to hide my face if I ever did talk about it.
It’s a beautiful thing isn’t it!
It’s cleansing too! x
Dawn, I had no idea. This makes me so incredibly sad. I know far too many people who share this same misfortune and it breaks my heart.
Thanks TD. It’s something that I am learning to finally deal with and put behind me. But at the same time, I need to talk about it…and raise awareness on how common this horrible act is. ..and what the end result is.
I know how common it is, sadly. That fact has been made even more evident since I started blogging. I have met a LOT of bloggers who have similar stories. It’s so senseless.
Senseless it is. And quite damaging. I’d dare say most women/men this happens to wear shame so heavy on their soul that they never talk about. …I think that’s why blogging can be so therapeutic. Its a way to talk about it in a “safer”, less shaming way.
Well, you have my support. I know and have seen the damage it can do to a person who was abused as a child. It’s harrowing to witness the consequences.
whoa. this is the kind of blogpost you don’t expect to come across, because it’s so personal and tragic at the same time, but when you do, it’s like stumbling upon a diamond mine full of wisdom that needs to be shared.
thank you for being honest, open, and vulnerable in sharing your history. i’m saddened to hear about the terrible, horrific things that happened to you, that robbed you of your childhood, your hopes, your potential. it is maddening.
at the same time, reading this helps me as a reader, and as a nurse, to better understand, to empathize in you and other sexual abuse survivors have endured. you are the voice that speaks out amongst those who have been silenced for so long. through this, your voice, your story, carries so much worth and value.
My goodness, I’m not sure what to say. Thank you. Your words went straight to my heart, truly.
1 in 3?
I’m so so sorry for what you’ve been through. Happy happy re-birthday and here’s to being free. xo
Thank you Kristi. My re-birthday is just around the corner at this point. It will be a celebration like no other this year.
Thanks for sharing!
It must have taken a lot of courage to talk about it and even harder to write it down and relive it. It’s a great first step to recovery.
This could be your calling. Not only help those who are struggling silently but also help those who live with them. Someone that I love dearly suffered the abuse. Your story helps me understand the daily struggles. Hugs and lots of love to you 🙂
Helping spouses and loved ones is all part of it. Thank you so much for reading and responding. Your words are so very encouraging.
Poop on people who hurt others, especially the young people. I’ve read so many stories like this from bloggers and they always hurt my heart, but they also give me hope when the person is able to move on with life and accept that what happened did happen, it’s not their fault and they can still be happy adults. I teach police recruits and have a rape/abuse survivor coming in to speak to them next week. They need to hear things about how these crimes affect people so they can have some empathy instead of just taking notes and being dismissive. Here’s hoping.
What a great thing for the officers and the survivors. I wish more people in your position felt the necessity of empathy the way you do. I work in the field of mental health and we deal with the police quite a bit. The need for a deeper understanding of mental health and trauma within the police force is unfortunately so very obvious. So I commend your commitment to actually serving people, and not just policing them my friend. As a survivor, that gives me hope.