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The Hard Parts About Sharing My Story

my-story

My story began ten years ago. At 17 years old, I was raped for the first time. My abuser was my instructor in a fire science school program. And, for 8 months, this person sexually, mentally, physically, and emotionally abused me. 

During those months, I lost myself completely. The abuse and threats I endured changed my life forever. When I came forward, I thought that my life would go back to the way it was before, but that was not the case. I’ll never be that girl again. 

I never expected how lonely, confusing, frustrating, and scary coming forward would be. For a while, I wish I never did. People bullied, threatened, stalked, and doubted me.  I lost so much. 

For a while, it was something I never wanted to talk about. It was something I couldn’t understand. There are still so many parts of being a survivor that I don’t understand and don’t think I ever will. 

As time went on, I navigated and processed all I endured. I quickly realized how messed up everything was, from the abuse to coming forward, to how life looked after. This wasn’t normal, and I shouldn’t have ever endured this pain. It made me wonder how I could help others in this situation. How could I help the younger me who was left to navigate so much pain and a broken legal system alone? 

This is when I began to share my story publicly. 

I was finally in control of the situation and could speak on what I wanted to–on my terms. For a while, I had no control. The media would blast horrific headlines and share private information to give my identity away, people would create their own narratives of what happened, and this would cause so much more pain and trauma for me. 

When I started sharing my story I didn’t realize how much I would lose and how that would change my life even more going forward. Even though it’s been hard at times, it’s also been very healing. I have created a space for survivors and allies to come to for help, advice, and support. And I have felt called to do this and believe I survived for this reason and will continue to share even during the hard times. 

I don’t think people understand or see the hardships that come with being a survivor. It’s something that I’ll live with forever. And I lost a few things, as well as struggled with hard moments since I started telling my story.  

I lost friends and family; the people I loved and thought I could trust abandoned me. They would say things like “Back in the day, we swept this under the rug,” or otherwise downplay my pain and experience. They told me to “just” move on, to “stop living in the past,” and didn’t support me. Now, I live forever dealing with things like court, parole, trauma, and the PTSD my abuser caused me–and the people around me.

I also lost the life I once knew. After sharing my story, I couldn’t remember much good from that time in my life. I know that there were many good moments, but the abuse took up so much of my life that I can’t seem to remember the good. I’ve also had to mourn the life I had before; I will never be that innocent child again or the girl I was before. The what-ifs creep in, and it can be heartbreaking thinking about the life I had before. 

Not only did I lose loved ones and my past, but also my future.

As a child, we all dream of the life we want when we grow up. I always imagined my life a certain way, as I’m sure most do. Learning to navigate the changes life has thrown at me since the abuse has been hard. But I just remind myself that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be doing, what I’m meant to do.  I have fought so hard for this life I have. 

To be honest, there are times I have questioned if sharing my story is worth the hard parts, the bullying, the threats, and all the hell that comes my way. But then, I remember this quote someone shared with me years ago: “Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that is the one that is going to help you grow.” And I also owe it to my younger self to become the best, healed version of myself. 

I’m also doing this for others.

Somewhere out there, someone needs a safe space. They need someone to listen, someone to believe them. And if I can be that to just one person, sharing my story is worth it. 

Photo by name_ gravity on Unsplash

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