Wednesday, September 19, 2018

When a child sexual abuse survivor shares their story.

There are many stories that survivors choose not to share with anyone, not even with the closest and the dearest ones, but when we do share our stories we hope that the response is a positive experience for survivors. So how can we respond well to someone who opens up about sexual abuse? Well, part of it involves learning what not to say to survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Throughout the years, many people have responded to me with questions or comments such as “Why didn’t you report sooner? Did he force you? You knew it was wrong right? It couldn’t have been that bad if you stayed silent. Your father made a mistake and you must forgive him!” These are examples of what not to say to someone when they choose to reveal to you about their sexual abuse. If you don’t know what to say simply listen silently and respectfully or say I’m here for you and I believe you. These words are the most important words to tell a survivor of any kind of sexual assault after they have revealed their stories. Unknowingly, your words can heal them or they can also break them down. The first time that I shared my story publicly was on a blog in 1997. It was a scary moment for me because I didn’t know what kind of response I would get from people. However, the first comment that was posted on my blog after years of people (family) invalidating me was “I believe you” and this comment changed my life forever. It validated my story and gave me a glimpse of hope that I was going to survive the emotions that were awakened from speaking out and that I was going to heal no matter what had happened to me. The journey wasn’t easy, but for once I found a venue that I could be me and share my story. No more hiding from the world. No more hiding from myself. No more silence. I didn’t share my story to get revenge on anyone. I shared my story because I needed to free the little girl within me from the past. I shared my story because I had been walking around all my life with this hurting little girl and she needed to find happiness, healing and love. When someone tells you, “It was ME or Me Too” It happened to me listen and please don’t judge them for simply surviving the abuse however they could as children. Our main goal as children was to survive this awful thing that was happening to us and our goal as adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse is to continue surviving, overcoming or thriving over the memories of a broken childhood.

Next time that someone says to you that they were sexually abused by a father, mother, brother, uncle, sister, grandmother, pastor, teacher, aunt, cousin, the babysitter believe them because your response can help them heal or create more trauma in their life.

Thank you for reading.
Cecibel Contreras
It was ME

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