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Speaking Out as a Survivor

When I think about talking about sexual abuse – I imagine others wanting to whitewash it, make me explain, or shove it back under the rug somehow.

I will not.

A friend that I told recently seemed surprised by how often this happens. She said that she didn’t understand how women “accusers” would wait 20 years to come out with their stories. I found that a weird choice of words.

Victims of sexual assault are victims first, then survivors and then sometimes accusers. I told her “It's hard for adult women to overcome the shame to talk about it. They keep the secret because they fear being interrogated about it. What do you think they have to gain from speaking out and accusing anyone?” Why would anyone falsely accuse someone? I told her that I believe 99% of the people that say they were sexually assaulted.

Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much incentive to speak up in society without fear of repercussions. Things are changing slowly now. The #MeToo movement has opened the subject and it is HUGE. Almost every industry has someone.

We were so shocked to learn about Bill Cosby being a rapist. Well that goes to show you that it can be ANYONE. The person you would least expect. They can hide their big, dirty secret from everyone – and this is what makes revealing it by their victims so impossible to imagine. Who would believe that Mr. Cosby drugged and raped you? Come on. You want his money. Maybe you took some hush money – so you are complicit and should remain silent.

It takes COURAGE to stand up and admit that you were assaulted by someone powerful. It feels like you are standing in front of the firing squad. But for your soul – and to help others – it is worth it. It's important for someone to speak out because there are almost always others who will come forward too.

I’ve written a book about my childhood sexual abuse and it scares me. What if I go on tv or a speaking gig and people challenge me. Why didn’t you tell? Why are you focusing on it now?

I know I can handle being challenged. I relish the chance to make people think about their misconceptions.

This is exactly why I need to speak out. To make others aware of the impacts of sexual abuse or assault and how they can affect a person their entire life. I also want survivors to know that they aren't alone, can speak up and should not feel ashamed.

I'm speaking now because I have done the work and see the situation clearly. I'm not going to keep secrets any more.

People who see animals being abused don't think that it's a secret that needs to be kept. They don't think there's something wrong with the animal and look the other way. Animal rescue is a noble cause. They are the voiceless and need people to speak up for them.

Children are the voiceless too. Even kids who have nightly rituals of sex abuse, being starved and/or beaten – go to school the next day and don’t tell anyone.

Why? Because they are trained by their abusers. They have no choice because they are dependent. Like a beaten dog, they don’t believe things can change and that no one will help them. Why doesn’t a beaten dog turn on his abuser and kill them? Because he’s been conditioned to believe the master has the power and he is submissive.

This is exactly how it felt to be under my father's control. I knew he was powerful and could persuade anyone that he was right and I was wrong. He could’ve hurt me very badly at any time – so I didn’t try to tell any adult. I was a child living in fear. I had no proof.

Now I have the power and the voice to let everyone know that it was never MY FAULT and I'm not going to suffer the pain or shame any more.

Speaking out about sexual abuse takes courage but gives you strength. It's a relief to let out the pain of keeping it inside. You'll learn there are many others who have gone through similar experiences.

There are many Facebook Groups about childhood abuse where you can find survivors discussing the issues in a safe space. You can search Twitter for #MeToo or #CSA and find other voices lifting others. You Are Not Alone.

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