This has been a long time coming. It started with a whisper in the back of my brain and I wrote Musings. Then it grew to a hunger in my soul and I wrote Telling Stories. And now I just know: it’s time. It’s time to press publish and say:
I am a survivor.
Of sexual abuse. Of sexual assault.
And right now, statistically, 1 in 4 girls, and 1 in 5 women who reading this are going to say, whether in a whisper to themselves, or as a shout out loud: me too.
I walk by survivors every day. I talk to survivors every day. I just don’t know that I’m talking to them, and they don’t know that they’re talking to one too, because nobody is talking about it. Because of fear. Of shame.
Fear and shame that stopped me from speaking about it for years.
But I’m working through it. With some time, some healing, long conversations, a lot of love and compassion, and the guidance of some incredible women, my mindset is shifting. The deep dark secrets I’ve kept don’t have to be deep and dark. And they’re not secrets, they’re stories. Secrecy implies there’s a reason to keep quiet. And with this – there isn’t. And while nothing positive comes out of silence, a lot of positive comes from speaking.
Do people who have been hit by a car feel fear in sharing their story because they think they’ll be blamed? Do most victims of a crime sit and stew over telling friends about the crime that WAS COMMITTED AGAINST THEM because they think people will shame them and point a finger?
When someone is killed, it doesn’t matter if we say killed or murdered. Dead is dead. We don’t only consider it a crime if it was a gun and not a knife. It doesn’t matter if we call it robbery or burglary. We don’t tell someone who had their wallet stolen, “Well, you DID have it in your pocket where it was easy to grab. So you kind of asked for the thief to take it.” We don’t ask victims to defend their experience. Because it was a crime. A crime was committed against them.
This is no different.
People get bogged down in semantics. Was it rape? Sexual assault? Sexual abuse? Molestation? Do the words REALLY matter? Do the details REALLY matter? Does it REALLY matter to know who put what where, and when, and what was I wearing and was I drinking and how old was I and how old were they and were they male or female and how many times did it happen and what’s my favorite color and what color eyes do I have? Does it in any way change the fact that it was a crime, and it happened?
The details matter to me, because they’re my story. My memories. The words of the chapters of my life. But they don’t matter in that they don’t change the underlying truth.
And it’s not “personal”. Because what happened actually had nothing to do with me. It wasn’t my event or my choice, so there’s no reason I should have to hold it as my secret. No reason I should have to carry shame about it.
The point? The point of speaking is to stand in my truth. The point of speaking is to stop keeping a secret that never should’ve been a secret. The point is to release that which I no longer need to hold within. The point is that silence will do nothing for me or anyone else but speaking will. The point is for any of you who read this, sigh, and say, me too. The point is any little bit of courage that this gives another survivor.
And now – I am rooting down. Standing tall. Holding tight. And owning my story.