Here’s what I’ve determined is, for me, the worst part of being an abuse survivor: the silence.
From the day of the abuse – in particular, sexual abuse – we learn that our voice doesn’t count.
Our voice doesn’t count when weprotest the rape or molestation.
Our voice doesn’t count when we protest the rape or molestation. Our voice doesn’t count when we are children, helpless to the physical and emotional strength of our abusers. And for most of us, our voice doesn’t count when we are strong and brave enough to say that it happened, to tell someone who should protect us, and they don’t. Or they say maybe it was our imagination, maybe we don’t know the abuser’s intentions, maybe you put yourself in a vulnerable position. Or a judge, police officer or statute of limitations impedes our path to justice.
Its been about two years since I’ve began to use my voice. Even as a woman who desires to share her journey my voice is, for the most part, silenced.
Because I don’t get to defend myself to my abusers. They get to live in blissful denial while I cope with the cataclysmic consequences of their actions against me. I am left with a broken mind that learned lessons like never trust authority. Lessons like taking care of myself is unimportant; advocating for myself is unjustified. I am not worthy of protection, safety, or to be heard.
Recently I had the terrible experience of listening to a person from my past use my worst fears my deepest wounds against me. The conversation showed me that this person is not someone I am going to speak with anymore, and it also provided me with some insight and reminders that I am better for hearing.
First: that I do have a voice. That I can set boundaries with dangerous people. That I am no longer a woman who tolerates abusers. That I can look at the little abused girl I was and tell her, with all sincerity and evidence to back me up, that I will take care of her in ways she has always deserved. That she and I do not need to live a life of fear anymore. That we are stronger, better, brave and healing.
To my fellow survivors, I admire you so much. We are so strong. I know that is something our loved ones tell us all the time but I need you to feel the weight of its truth. The fact that we are alive is proof of our strength. The fact we go on after what we have been through is the very definition of courage.
Our rage and despair is full of energy, is valid, deserves to be heard.
We were not able to defend ourselves during the abuse. But we are not powerless. Our rage and despair is full of energy, is valid, deserves to be heard.
Sometimes it feels as if I am alone in this, and there is an insidious sense of isolation that comes along with a journey like mine. But I need to remember I have a voice. I need to remember I can use it.
And I need to speak for others who can’t.