A friend of mine told me a secret she had been carrying for twenty years. She was sexually molested when she was a child. She went on to tell me she felt a horrible shame all of her life about what happened to her. The trauma left her feeling broken, damaged and unworthy. The effects of the trauma interfered with her ability to trust and have a satisfying intimate relationship with her partner. She wanted to heal from the childhood trauma she endured years before and did not know how to start.
All her life she had tried get rid of the memoires and the pain within herself. She felt she was alienated from herself and all of humanity. Between her tears she expressed how she was isolated and extremely alone with a sense of powerlessness. She wept. Her eyes averted mine. Additionally, she said she was exhausted because she could not sleep.
My dear friend was trusting me to be there for her. She wanted to know what to do. After I offered a hug and told her she was not alone and I was there to listen and support her. I suggested she needed to get herself into therapy. She was willing to interview a few therapists. Then, I let her know there were some books she could read that might be helpful. I gave her a short list not to overwhelm her. There are a lot of books on the subject.
- I Never Told Anyone: Writings by Women Sexual Abuse Survivors by Ellen Bass
- Miss America by Day by Marilyn Van Derbur
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Signs by Maya Angelou
She did not know if she could focus on reading a book so I suggested she might find a movie a validating experience.
Finally, I gently suggested she join the Wings Foundation as a way to find support among other women who have had similar experiences. My dear friend was in more shock because she thought she was the only one who has suffered such a horrible thing as a child. Unfortunately one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually assaulted by the time they are 18 year old. She was curious how this could be and then have nobody talking about it. Again, softly and with compassion I told her it is uncomfortable for the survivor and for the listener.
I reassured her the Wings Foundation is working hard to change that silence so people know there is a place to get support. I went on to tell her The Wings Foundation is hosting their very first conference and I will be there as a volunteer. I feel passionate about breaking the silence so people can heal and offenders are held accountable.
If you are reading this post and want or need support contact RAINN as it is the largest national organization for the dissemination of sexual assault information and they can connect you to help. The information I provided my friend is only a tip of the iceberg on how to get help and begin the journey of healing. I work with survivors of childhood sexual abuse and I have witnessed their resilience, strength and courage to create a life they love living. It is enlivening to see them heal. If you have questions please feel free to call me directly at 720-260-7702 or through email at Brenda@CreatingYourBeyond.com.
- The Thich Nhat Hanh “Thay” Cure for Toxic Shame
- Darker Than a Steven King Novel: Toxic Shame
- How to Overcome Shame with R.A.I.N.N