Welcome Home Fiona music video by Asha Lightbearer
If you aren’t a childhood sexual abuse survivor, you know one.
Survivors of childhood sexual abuse may not even be aware that they are a survivor. I had no clue that what I went through as a child, the trauma of receiving an enema at 7 years old, was considered a sexual violation. It was prescribed by a doctor and administered by a member of my family so it sounded like a completely legitimate medical procedure that should have only caused a minor discomfort.
Quite the opposite happened for me however. That one event was a traumatic experience and created the biggest phobia of my life. I carried fear and anxiety about anyone, including myself, going near that part of my body for over 45 years. This one “minor discomfort” was a normal, accepted medical procedure, but I was phobic about it for the majority of my life.
If a medical procedure can make someone feel traumatized years after the event, I can only imagine what life must be like for someone who’s experienced a major violation of physical boundaries as a child by someone they most likely knew and loved.
CSA, or Child Sexual Abuse, is probably the most silenced and personally invasive crimes on the planet. The perpetrators come in all shapes and sizes from all backgrounds and statuses. Some sexual abusers are reputable, well-liked, respected, and trusted in their family and community. And some are quiet and keep to themselves. It can be very difficult to identify one even amongst your own circles of friends and family.
Are you a victim of CSA or any other type of sexual abuse? If so, you don’t have to own shame that isn’t yours or guilt that you may have chosen to take on. The shame and guilt belong to the other person, not you.
If you are not a victim, there’s a 99% chance you know one. I found out 35 years after the fact that a close family member of mine was sexually molested by someone I knew and loved. That’s a hard truth that many friends and family of survivors have to digest sometimes. I almost couldn’t handle it! But I had to if I was going to be able to support her, regardless of my own thoughts and feelings of trying to deal with such shocking information. She is the one who suffered through it so I couldn’t be an emotional train wreck myself.
It is difficult for everyone who learns something so heinous, but of course, it’s nothing compared to what the victim suffered through back then, or the emotional damage they might still be carrying around with them today.
Like many people who learn of sexual abuse in their family, my immediate reaction was to go into denial about the truth. I didn’t want to believe it really happened. But her reality and suffering overrode my disbelief so I had to accept the pain of truth.
This is why it’s so hard for abuse victims to get help sometimes:
Family and friends simply don’t want to believe this kind of truth.
It’s almost as if we, as humans, are hardwired to not believe atrocities like this can exist just so we can get through day to day living. Unfortunately, sexual abuse is real. And it happens every day to many children and adults. But it doesn’t have to be like this. Now there is help, support, and prevention.
In this special episode of The Overwhelmed Brain, I talk with abuse survivor, songwriter, and my girlfriend, Asha Lightbearer about the realizations of her sexual abuse and what you can do to start your healing today.
Articles and resources for child sexual abuse survivors
A music and arts movement for child sexual abuse prevention and healing