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” is a normal, accepted medical procedure… and I suffered from 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 clear crossing of sexual boundaries as a child by someone they most likely knew and loved.
CSA, or Child Sexual Abuse, is probably the most silenced and personally violating crime on the planet. The perpetrators come in all shapes and sizes from all backgrounds and statuses. Some are reputable and well-liked, respected and trusted in their family and community and some are quiet and keep to themselves. The point is you really don’t know who could be one in your 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 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 – because she suffered through it and I had to be supportive, not a wreck.
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 that 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 because 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. For more information visit thefionaproject.org.
Donations are used for the prevention of child sexual abuse and healing programs for survivors