Yesterday, we had another brave survivor come forward to share her story. If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the link to Stacy’s story. As I prepared the page to post her story and as Jennifer read the post, we both wanted to add comments in the margins. “It was not your fault he took you to the cemetery.” “He should have treated you with respect and not raped you.” “It was not your fault.” That would not have been fair to her or the telling of her story. But I still wanted to do it anyway.
I also wanted to drive to her house and hug her. I wanted to hold her in my arms and tell her that I would never let anyone hurt her again. Then I wanted to find out any of her abusers’ names and drive to their houses and punch them in the face. I obviously can’t do either of those things either. I’ve never hit anyone in my life and I cannot guarantee any survivor, or anyone actually, that they will never be hurt again. It is not my job to step in and control their lives, even if it is with good intensions.
All I can really do is keep talking, keep encouraging others to speak out, remind people that they are not alone and it is not their fault.
That seems like a small drop in the bucket against child abuse. It is such a huge, evil problem. But as Stacy said, “That is my inspiration to others. To be their rock or support system…I’d love to encourage & help people on their journey!” That is enough. So much more than enough.
Stacy inspires me. The woman in Chicago who is a court advocate for survivors inspires me. The man in Texas who quotes Rumi inspires me. The lady in the coffee shop who proudly proclaimed that she liked hot chocolate and finally got to chose to drink it inspires me. My friend who is struggling, but keeps going every day, teaching students and trying to let them know that someone loves them. She inspires me. Maya Angelou, Madonna, Terri Hatcher, Tyler Perry, Carlos Santana and Michael Reagan inspire me.
I am also inspired by secondary survivors who live with the horror of sexual abuse that their partners suffered and love even that broken-hearted part of them.
As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I used to feel like I was the only one. I felt like I was a bad person who was being punished. I have learned that I am neither. I have also learned that most survivors feel that way and that many people who are not survivors feel that they do not know anyone who is a survivor. That does not make him or her a bad person either. There are of course cases where people know someone is being abused and do nothing, but I think very often, it is just because they don’t know or don’t know what to do.
We are all in this together. If we can’t talk about abuse and hear each other’s stories, we are all stuck. None of us can improve because we are too afraid to learn. There is hope to end abuse. We just have to work together and learn how to do it!
If you could speak to a person who is not a survivor, what would you tell them is the single most important thing they can do to help you heal?
If you are a secondary survivor, what is one thing you have found helpful when dealing with survivors?
If you don’t know any survivors, or don’t know you know any, what would you like to ask them? (please ask questions with the intent to help, not blame.)