April 4, 2017

Dawn: “The Stitch keeps me together”

My name is Dawn and from the age of 3 until my teen years I was repeatedly sexually abused by my stepfather. I lived through a very traumatic childhood that also included physical and mental abuse. In third grade I ran away in the middle of the night to find the town’s only ‘orphanage’. I was found and punished but the worst part was later on discovering that it wasn’t an orphanage at all but a nursing home. I was a lonely child who kept hidden in dark places due to the fear and shame. Children find small ways to cope like believing that a place that looked happy and cheerful must be the place that will save me. I did eventually tell what happened to me but it was met with nothing other than confusion, severe helplessness and the knowledge that I could not trust anyone. The social workers and police did nothing. I was most definitely alone.

I knew I did not belong in the life that I was in, I knew it was wrong and I needed to survive until I could escape. Somehow, someway I did just that.

I got help as a young adult to deal with the consequences of a living in constant fear and trauma. Anxiety, OCD and depression have been a part of my life as a result and I couldn’t trust anyone. It wasn’t until 30 years later I learned that this is not something that a person can ‘get over’. It’s impossible and unreasonable to expect that of myself. I had to get through it and know that it will change as I grow and it will feel and mean something different as I age. I also learned that childhood trauma changes the development of a child’s brain. So I wasn’t crazy and I wasn’t at fault and I could finally let myself off the hook.

I have been looking for a way to connect with others, to reach out and be of service somehow. One year ago a friend posted about the stitch and my heart opened and some light was shed in those little dark places. The Stitch keeps me together. It is a beacon of hope and strength. It is a symbol of comfort that draws people together. When you see someone wearing it no words need to be spoken because you know that you are safe and accepted completely, your struggle is real and respected. Most importantly, it is proof that you are not alone and that is the key to healing.   I wear the stitch with pride.

To join Dawn in wearing the stitch and being a voice, click here.