Our names are Ben Glade and Annaka Vimahi. We are brother and sister, four years apart. On the surface our lives appear as what some may call ideal. We grew up with a supportive family, community, and with great opportunities. We have always considered ourselves to be lucky and blessed.
What most people who knew us didn’t realize, and what we didn’t even realize ourselves, is how much pain lay beyond this surface.
We have always gone through ups and downs, as we realize is part of life. Our life experiences share a lot of similarities and differences. They are inextricably linked. Not just because we are siblings, but because we share a common past. Beyond the surface, we are both survivors of sexual abuse.
Neither of us realized how much these early experiences impacted our lives: the way we grew up perceiving the world, ourselves, and falsely believing how the world perceived us. While we may have experienced things such as depression or other mental health issues regardless of the abuse, it has definitely exacerbated our struggles. We will never know what our lives would be like otherwise, but we do know the courses of our lives were forever altered because of the abuse.
Sexual abuse is not a subject we ever discussed together until a couple of years ago when we were both in our early thirties.
As we individually embarked on our healing journeys, we each realized how difficult it can be to begin this process as an adult. It is difficult to know who to open up to, where to get the right help and what action to take. Speaking up is terrifying, especially after many years have passed. Accepting and dealing with this layer of our lives is one of the more difficult challenges we’ve faced.
We hope our openness can help shed the social shame surrounding some of life’s most difficult and confusing challenges. Many may not be able to relate to us on the sexual abuse level, but we can all understand that life is challenging for millions of different reasons.
Despite this ugly part of our past, we’re learning that the abuse is not the most important thing about us. We are. And we are discovering who we really are for the first time. We are valuable. We are interesting. We are complex. We have many layers that make us who we are. The abuse is just one of those layers
Help us increase awareness and reach other survivors by sharing our story with your family and friends!