Seeking Out Child Abuse Survivor’s Stories
I used to think that the abuse I endured as a child was unique. I thought no one else had ever gone through what I did. My belief that I was the only one isolated me. Being the only one meant that I couldn’t tell anyone.
Who was going to understand the abuse that was happening to me? I didn’t even understand what was happening then. As an adult, I understand what happened to me, but I still have to heal from that. I am still working on how to live and thrive and not just survive.
That is where the stories of other survivors of child abuse help me and others. I started to seek out the stories of other survivors of childhood abuse. I am fascinated, not so much with the abuse they endured, but by their perseverance. But am I weird for wanting to know their stories? That was a question I would ask myself quite frequently.
It turns out, after a discussion with my therapist, I am not weird. It is healthy to seek out the stories of other childhood abuse survivors. It helps us to find our path through healing. Their stories give us (me) strength and hope. I thought to myself, their stories helped me, perhaps mine can help someone too. As I was discovering that as my truth I wrote about the beginning of that journey in I Want to Be. My story has only just begun.
So here I am, stepping forward to add my story.
We (You) Are Not Alone
I am not sure that I can emphasize that you (we) are not alone. It is the key to your healing. Truly. Being abused is a very isolating experience. That isolation is encouraged and exploited by the abuser. My abuser and your abuser, they are all master manipulators.
The abuser purposely curates the isolation that we all feel. It is so much easier to control someone when you isolate them. My abuser would tell me that I was special and that I was the only one. I think it is one of the reasons that children are the most vulnerable to abuse. It is so easy to isolate and control children.
It is the isolation that the abuser relies on to keep you in line. It is also that isolation that keeps you telling others. Every one of us kept our promises to the person that was doing us harm. We never spoke about it.
Until one day, someone did. And then another person spoke up and another. And how shocked were we to realize that we aren’t the only ones? That silence is what predators all over the world hope to continue. Our silence gives them the power to continue abusing children. Standing together takes that power away from them.
Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it.
Telling Our Stories of Child Abuse Will Change the World
What can we do, you ask? Tell our stories. We need to educate others about child abuse and the continuing damage it does. Our abusers and current or future abusers need to know that we will no longer be silent. Abusers do what they do because they are confident that we won’t tell. And historically, that is unfortunately accurate. Only then will those abusers face the justice they deserve. I genuinely believe that uniting our voices in strength, solidarity, and support of each other will change the world to do that we must stand together. United, we are stronger than they will ever be.
It is so hard to tell your story. Trust me, I certainly know. Even when I realized this is my purpose, to add my voice to the thousands, I still struggle every time I sit down to write. This blog will be the first time I will share with anyone besides my therapist some of the details of what I went through. I have chosen a very public forum. You don’t have to go public to tell your story. There are many ways to share your story.
You can share with those closest to you, friends, family, etc. If you would like to be able to share your story and would like to do so anonymously, many organizations can help you with doing that. One is RAINN. I do recommend that if you decide to tell your story to have a support system in place. That support system can be a therapist (highly recommend), best friends, family, etc. The same people that you would confide in want to be there to support you.
When we speak out, we take back the power that our abusers took from us. And with that power, we can and will change the world.
In FY 2018, the national estimate of child fatalities from abuse was 1,770. That is on average 5 children a day dying from abuse.
Partial Story of the Numbers
I thought that more than twenty years later, with all of the movements and activists out there that child abuse had decreased. It took one Netflix documentary, The Trials of Gabriel Hernandez, to make me realize that I was wrong. It made me sick to learn that his story was that recent. And it doesn’t end with his story.
In FY 2018, the national estimate of child fatalities from abuse was 1,770. That is an increase of 11.3 percent from the 2014 national estimate of 1,590.1 Those aren’t just numbers. They are lives that ended all too soon. At the hands of someone whose responsibility was to protect them.
The majority of those children, 70.6%, are younger than three years old.1 Those little kids have no chance with an adult who seeks to do them harm. Gabriel Hernandez was eight years old when he was abused and tortured to death.
When I was a child I used to think that those who had died were the lucky ones. When it comes to child abuse there are no lucky ones.
1. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children and Families,
Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau. (2020). Child
Maltreatment 2018. Available from https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/research-data-technology