This guest blog post was written by our friend, Samantha. Her story is powerful and brave, and we are so honored that she is choosing to be a voice for others. Thank you, Samantha, for speaking your silence.
I am a survivor of child abuse, NOT a victim.
From the time I was 10 until I got the courage up to tell my mom at 14, my older brother abused me. He was kicked out of the family home and I thought everything would be better, however, less than a year after getting kicked out, my brother heroically re-entered into a fire at his apartment trying to save three other people and died alongside two of them. Before I had even begun to heal from the abuse, I was also suddenly in mourning for my brother whom I still loved. During that time, I was bombarded with messages of how amazingly angelic and perfect my brother had been in life. This forced me into deep shame and depression as a young teen. I started thinking that my abuse must have been my fault. My family suddenly acted as if the abuse had never happened and I was pulled from therapy to help them foster their carefully built revision of history. I would grow to spend my twenties with highs of conquest and lows of self-loathing. I was on a collision course with my own death and didn’t seem to know how to slow down nevertheless stop.
One day I stumbled on an article on this organization called Speak your Silence. As I was reading the article and thereafter, everything I could find on the organization had sparked a fire in my soul. I would not be part of the deafening silence that leaves us victims, I would be a beacon to others that survived! At the time, I was 32 and pregnant with my first child and the emotional rollercoaster my mental health had gone through in my twenties had ended my first marriage. I had undergone 3 years of therapy and began volunteering with a group that pairs troubled kids with adult mentors and had been blessed to find a new little sister as part of my lifelong family. I worked with LGBTQ+ teenagers who had been disowned by their families and found great joy in my service. However, I was still in hiding from my past. That one article about Speak Your Silence led me down a new journey of discovery and healing. I ordered three stitch kits and embroidered my coats, jacket, and purse. This invited people to ask what it was and allowing me to speak my story. For the first time, I didn’t feel dirty or ashamed. I felt empowered and proud because what I found through my courage to tell my story was a network of other people sharing their story too. Sometimes I was the first and only person they had ever told but I allowed them a safe person to talk to. Being a survivor gave me a unique passageway into people’s hurting hearts and allowed them to start their journey to healing too.
I am now closer to 40 than 20, the mother of four fabulous children and engaged to a wonderful, sweet, kind, and considerate partner. I truly believe I am capable of being a mother and a partner because I broke the silence imposed upon me. I had the battle with my family and I fought for my truth to be heard and accepted. I was amazed at how much that act itself healed me. No two paths are the same. I know this now more than ever as I continue to reach out to those hurt by childhood sexual abuse. However, ALL of us survivors are stronger than we even know. We possess a resiliency that others see and envy, but it was hard-won. I no longer look at my past with pain and regret. I will always fight to help others avoid this battle and to hopefully end childhood sexual abuse, yet I embrace the truth of the things that have molded and shaped me in a way that is hard to express. I would never wish for it but love who I am here on the other side. I don’t know what my future holds beyond raising my kids with my partner, but I know that I will never again be silent when my voice can help others. I will never again hide my hurts to make someone else more comfortable, and I will never again take the blame unto myself for that which was done to me. The future looks bright.