Going back over 10 years ago to when I first started this blog, the goal has always been to help survivors feel less alone. Last week I was reminded, yet again, of the importance of talking about it.
There was a time in my life when it seemed like I was somehow attracting other survivors to myself. Every time I mentioned being a survivor, or someone found out about this site, they started talking to me about their past and their childhood experiences. I chalked it up to being some sort of secret radar that attracted survivors to one another even when they just happened to know each other through circumstances more than anything else.
Last week, I was working at our annual user’s conference in Vegas, and once again, found myself talking to one of the people that I had previously trained about this and that and whatever. I mentioned having been a survivor of child molestation, and wouldn’t you know it, the response I got was that she was as well.
I realized, this was not just some magic radar that was bringing me to other survivors. I am, literally, surrounded by other survivors, and so are you. We just don’t talk about it, so we don’t even realize how many survivors are in our midst every day. We stay silent, and hide our “secret”, and miss out on the benefits of seeing other survivors. One of the biggest benefits, and one of the things I’ve tried to feature here, is just showing you other survivors, from all walks of life. It’s always been my opinion that I can help other survivors most by simply talking about being a survivor, showing them that healing is possible, and pointing out other survivors who are going through healing, have come through and are leading successful, contented lives, and other who are still struggling. At times, we can be all of those things in one person! But the overarching message that I hope I’m conveying here, is that you are not alone. You are not the first person to deal with this, what you are going through isn’t even all that rare! There are survivors all around you, just waiting to tell someone!
Now, I also realize that telling people is a risk. Not everyone is going to come back and share their own story, and certainly you should think about who you are talking to and whether it’s appropriate to share with them. Some people are going to not react well, and some might even avoid you because of their comfort level with the subject. That probably will happen, and you should be prepared for it, and understand that how others react to the subject of child abuse is on them. It is not your burden to bear. You might choose to tell them, and then never bring it up again, you may choose to no longer be as close to them, whatever. Those are your choices. But I do feel, and last week really cemented the idea for me, that telling will open up the communication gap between fellow survivors.
Far too many of us are walking through life assuming that no one understands us, that no one cares about what we are going through, that no one else has had to overcome so much. But statistics do not lie. You likely already have a number of survivors among your friends, family and coworkers. They’re all just as afraid to talk about it as you are, but who will be the first?