Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Survivors Voice (possible triggers ahead)

I've been feeling lately like I've not been doing enough in the survivor community.  So I decided that I'm going to write a series of blog posts speaking in my survivors voice, sharing my story.  I write not for your sympathy, but to shine a light on the issue of child sexual abuse.  I write so that you can understand the dangers.  I write so that you will understand that it is possible to survive, heal and go on to thrive in life.  I write so that you will talk about this issue with your kids, your friends and your family so that it is no longer a taboo subject.  So, I ask that you not avert your eyes and look away.  Read, ask questions and speak out.  There are children who need your help right now.

When I was about 5 years old, the sexual abuse began.  The perpetrator was not a creepy guy at the park or someone hiding in the bathrooms at the mall.  My perpetrator was my beloved Grandfather.  He continued to molest me until I was about 12 when for the most part I grew adept at avoiding situations where he could get to me in private.  Even that strategy wasn't foolproof as he was pretty brazen and would attempt to put his tongue in my mouth in front of others when saying goodbye as my Grandparents got in their truck to head home from a visit.

My Grandparents were dedicated to my brothers and I.  We traveled all over the state camping together from the time when each of us was a little baby.  I absorbed the family lore that my Grandpa was the worlds greatest and I was such a lucky girl.  I never said a word to anyone.

As I grew up and into my adult years, there was not 15 minutes in my day that I did not think about it, about what he did to me.  When I look back through my old journals, they're full of me trying to say 'it' didn't matter, that I needed to forget about it.

When I was 24 my life and my secret began to unravel.  Something I saw on television triggered me and I was unable to keep quiet.  When I say unable, I mean it was like trying to hold back vomit one night and I said to my Mother, 'you know how you always said how lucky we were nothing bad ever happened in our family?' and she said 'who was it?'  It all came tumbling out. When I was finished, she said 'it's not your fault', and then 'you're not the only one'.

It turns out, that my beloved Grandfather was a classic pedophile (by my calculations, having upwards of 10 victims I know about for certain and probably many more).  He had in fact been arrested years before for molesting numerous neighborhood children.  The adults in my family knew about the arrest, but had been shocked by it, didn't believe it and didn't really question the safety of me and other girls in the family.  It was a different day back in 1978.  That forgotten arrest came back to my Mom as soon as I disclosed.

That confession was marked the beginning of my healing.  The knowledge that I wasn't the only one, was extremely powerful and in fact was a gift that many survivors don't get.  It was proof that my story was true, and validation that those kids all those years ago were telling the truth then.

I did heal.  It didn't take forever.  I lead a normal life, seldom dealing with the after effects, but once in a great while something does come up.  In future posts I'll share more of my journey into healing and wholeness.  I hope that somewhere out there someone finds strength in my story.

Our secrets are what destroy lives.  I don't know that we're ever going to rid the world of this horrific epidemic, though God knows I'm a warrior in the effort.  But I can stand in the truth of my past and use my voice to help others understand the real dangers that threaten the safety of our children.  The better prepared adults are of the reality of this issue, the safer kids will be.

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