This week I did something I thought I’d never do. I sent my application and story into RAINN to see about becoming a speaker for them. I am both excited and nervous in my hope to hear back from them.
Just like many of you, I’ve always been afraid to tell my story. At first it was because of the shame I carried. I blamed myself for the longest time. I had multiple abusers in my life. I felt if I had been prettier, my mom would have believed me – she told me things like I would never be as pretty as my cousin, told me I had a hopeless chest instead of a hope chest. I thought maybe if I listed better, he wouldn’t hit me (relationship abuse), and of course the, well if I dressed more conservative nothing bad would happen.
As I got older and went through a lot of different therapy the shame receded. Still I didn’t tell many people about my abuse. Now it was fear of not being believed. I was only half believed by my mom when I told her. She believed it about one person and not the other. One of my abusers was a very upstanding man in the community, and I was the girl who never made the right decisions in life. No way would they believe me.
But now, now I feel anger. I feel ready. I don’t want to tell my story out of anger. This isn’t a revenge thing. I want to tell my story because I want to help others. I want them to find their voice, their strength. I want them to know abuse doesn’t recognize class, money, status. Abuse happens at every level. Whether you are popular or not. Athletic or not. Rich, poor, middle class- it doesn’t matter. And if it happened or is happening to you, there is help. You truly are not alone. There are others like me all around the world ready to stand next to you, give you the emotional support you need, offer our strength when you feel you’ve run out, offer our shoulder when you need to cry, and offer our hand to hold along your own journey.
So, as I take my next step in my journey, as I prepare to possible publicly speak out, I ask you, please support those in your area who are already speaking out. Send them a quick note letting them know how brave they are. Trust me, though they may seem tough as nails, they still need your support and strength.