Creating a Culture of Healing and Empathy

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We want to share our experiences to help give a voice to adult survivors of abuse and connect with others who have overcome or are working through some of life's many challenges. Please connect with us below through our social media icons or via email. Help us increase awareness and connect with other survivors by sharing our blog with your friends and family. Thanks!

Ben and Annaka

Ben’s Video Interview

Hello everyone,

You may have seen some of the videos that my sister and I have done of survivors of sexual abuse through our organization survivorsARE.org. This past weekend, I finally got up enough courage to record one of myself. If you’ve been my friend on FB for a while, you know I have shared some really personal things. You may think it’s easy for me. It’s actually not. AT ALL. I get nervous and feel vulnerable any time I share something. I am most self-conscious in front of a video camera.

One of the reasons I speak up about sexual abuse is because I think about my younger self or my nieces and nephews or any child, and I want to make the world a safer place for them. We can’t help protect future generations from a crime we can’t even discuss. I also want children who are victimized to be able to feel safe seeking help sooner than I did. I wouldn’t wish what I have lived through on anyone.

As a victim, I hid this secret until I was 30. It almost destroyed me multiple times. I often wonder why I kept it a secret, which I talk about in this video. One reason, I believe, is that I never had a positive example of another survivor of sexual abuse. The only things I heard about sexual abuse victims were negative and promoted shame. Victims were portrayed as weak or damaged or less than in some way. I also never heard of male victims because boys are strong and this type of abuse doesn’t/shouldn’t happen to them. No one ever told me survivors are brave and courageous. I heard that victims wrongfully accused or destroyed the perpetrator’s life and family. This may not be everyone’s interpretation, but as a victim, it was mine. It’s an interpretation I want to help change.

Sure talking about sexual abuse isn’t fun. I’d much rather talk about fun things or only post pictures of the beautiful scenes I see in nature, but unfortunately, parts of reality are difficult, not easy to talk about or share. I don’t think every survivor needs to make a video or come forward publicly, but I would love for them to feel safe to.

This video is for my younger self, other children who may go through similar experiences and for any other survivor of sexual abuse. It’s okay to be a survivor. It’s also okay to be a male one. Here’s to help changing society, so survivors can heal and we can hopefully stop perpetrators from victimizing the innocent.

I am very proud of this video and not ashamed to say that I am a male survivor of sexual abuse.

Thanks to my sister Annaka for her beautiful editing job.

Ben

 

Our Interview on K-Talk Radio

Above is our radio interview at K-Talk yesterday. Our interview begins at the 5:30 mark, just after the news update.

Parents, survivors and everyone else will want to hear this. You get insight from us as survivors as well as from Keeley Mendenhall an LCSW (child therapist) at Safe and Healthy Families at Primary Children’s. She is an expert in helping children heal from the effects of sexual abuse. She knows firsthand the signs and symptoms as well as what you can do as a parent to help your child.

Thanks again Shantel McBride and Cate Allen for interviewing us and giving us this opportunity to speak up. We had a great time.

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Ben, Annaka and Keeley

Keeley, Annaka, Ben and Shantel

Keeley, Annaka, Ben and Shantel

survivorsARE Awareness Video and KSL Interview

Hello Everyone!

It’s been a busy week.

On April 12, we got together with a number of other survivors of sexual abuse.

With this small group, we filmed a one-minute-long awareness video to help illustrate who survivors are. We released the video on Monday, April 27.

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will experience some form of sexual abuse before the age of 18. That is a lot of people!

Our goal is to give a face to the 1 in 4 and 1 in 6 and to help everyone get more comfortable having conversations about sexual abuse. We believe this will help other survivors feel safer to begin healing or encourage others to continue.

What do the survivors among us look like? Watch and see:

Help us raise awareness and support survivors everywhere by watching, liking and sharing our video!  

Everyone who participated was really brave to be vulnerable and share their voice. We’re just a small representation of survivors who are everyday people and are everywhere.

On Monday, we were also interviewed by Nkoyo Iyamba at KSL. Annaka and I were really nervous to interview with the news but believe in lending our voice to help other survivors heal. The plan was to have our story air on KSL’s nightly broadcast on Tuesday. The station decided not to air our spot. They did include our story in an online article though.

BenandAnnaka KSL Interview

Picture from KSL Interview

Annaka wrote the following and shared it on our Facebook Page:

We just got word that our interview with KSL is no longer going to be aired on TV. They did an online article instead. Here’s the link:

Survivors of sexual abuse help others break the silence

Although I’m disappointed that I spent so long getting ready and they didn’t even show a picture of me ;), we are pleased that KSL did air a story today about how The Children’s Justice Center aids child victims and that the LDS church donated money to them. We’re happy for any news about helping the issue. We also feel the best way to know about how to help survivors is to listen to the survivors.

We’d love to get a lot of “likes” on the article and our awareness awareness video to show news stations that it would be fantastic to have more news stories from the survivor’s perspective.

Finally, we launched a new site called survivorsARE.org.

We have met so many incredible people on our journey of healing and have benefited from some powerful collaborative experiences. We have felt compelled to create a safe environment to share messages of hope and healing for survivors and their loved ones. Although we will continue blogging on benandannaka.com, our focus will be on our new organization called survivorsARE. Our stories will join with so many others that will be shared in written, video, or audio formats on this new site. We will also gather available resources to aid others in their journeys of healing.

We did this all in the month of April because it is Sexual Assault Awareness and Child Abuse Prevention Month.

We’re not sure where our journey will take us, but we know we want to continue down the authentic path we’ve traveled so far.

We invite you all to join us by:

We appreciate all the love and support we’ve been shown and want to spread that feeling to others!

Love,

Ben and Annaka

Share Your Story

Hello Everyone,

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. We are excited to participate in some upcoming events. We are also excited to be starting some of our own projects and events. We feel humbled by all of you who have reached out and shared your stories with us. We have realized through starting this blog how much we all need each other to heal. One thing we would like to do is to start sharing more of your stories on our blog. If you are a sex abuse survivor, a relative, a friend, or anyone who has something to say, we’d love to hear from you. If you feel able to share your story with others, please submit your post here. We will respect anonymity.

We also have a project that we’d like to do and are looking for people who are willing to participate.

What we need:
1. Survivors and/or relatives of survivors of abuse who live close to Salt Lake City.
2. Willingness to share that you are a survivor/relative with others (you won’t have to share anything else).
3. Approximately 1 hour of your time (we don’t know the date yet, but it will be within the next few weeks).
4. We would really love various ages (not under 18, though), genders, religions, careers, interests, ethnicities, backgrounds, etc (we could really use some more male representation: male survivors, husbands, brothers, sons, fathers).

If you are willing and able, please contact us through our blog or facebook page. If you know someone who might be interested, please send them this information. We will be able to message you more information if you have questions.

We are looking forward to getting to know, and possibly meeting more of you!

Frequently Asked Questions About Sexual Abuse

We’ve been MIA for a while. Due to the weighty nature of our blog’s content, we’re learning just how sharing our experiences impacts us individually. Our posts can serve as a trigger for us as well as others, even though this isn’t our intention; our goal is to help raise awareness. As with our experience in therapy, we can only handle so much at a time. We have to take breaks and will continue to do so. Therefore, we hope to include more informative posts by some other survivors and from experts who specialize in treating survivors of sexual abuse in order to be more consistent.

Since opening up about our experiences, parents have reached out to us and expressed how much they fear someone sexual abusing one of their own children. We frequently hear, “this is our biggest fear as parents,” or, “we couldn’t imagine anything worse happening to one of our kids.” Understandably parents want to know how to protect their children.

As a parent, aunt or uncle we can relate. We want our children or nieces and nephews as well as any other child to be protected from this traumatizing crime. We don’t want what happened to us to happen to anyone else. And if someone is abused, we want to them to get the right kind of treatment as soon as possible. More than anything, we don’t want anyone to suffer alone through any of the long-term consequences that can accompany sexual abuse. After all, these appear to cause more destruction throughout the survivor’s life than the act itself.

Unfortunately as long as people can make their own choices, incidences of sexual abuse will continue to occur, making awareness of this issue all the more important.

We have to admit that, although we wish we did, we don’t possess the answers to the question, “How can we prevent sexual abuse from happening?” We can’t see how our parents could have done anything differently but are grateful they were there to support us when we did come forward. Hopefully we can help increase awareness and improve how parents respond to an abused child through sharing our perspective as victims and survivors. In the event that sexual abuse does occur, early detection, intervention and proper treatment could help save a child from a lifetime of suffering. Although parents will probably feel guilty when learning one of their children was abused, the focus should be on getting help for the child. It’s tricky to balance the parents’ and child’s needs in this type of situation.

While most people’s knowledge of sexual abuse probably stems from personal experience or those of a close friend or family member, the consequences of this crime are far reaching. Adequately addressing this issue will require an increase in public awareness and some societal changes in how we approach and deal with sexual abuse.

The first step to change is understanding the problem by answering some frequently asked questions about sexual abuse: What is sexual abuse? Who does it impact and how does it impact them?

We’d like to share some of the available information found in today’s studies conducted on the occurrence and consequences of sexual abuse to help paint a clearer picture of the issue.

Understanding the Problem

Q: What is sexual abuse?

A: Child sexual abuse is any interaction between a child and an adult (or another child) in which the child is used for the sexual stimulation of the perpetrator or an observer. Sexual abuse can include both touching and non-touching behaviors. Touching behaviors may involve touching of the vagina, penis, breasts or buttocks, oral-genital contact, or sexual intercourse. Non-touching behaviors can include voyeurism (trying to look at a child’s naked body), exhibitionism, or exposing the child to pornography. Abusers often do not use physical force, but may use play, deception, threats, or other forms of coercion to engage children and maintain their silence. Abusers frequently employ persuasive and manipulative tactics to keep the child engaged. These tactics—referred to as “grooming”—may include buying gifts or arranging special activities, which can further confuse the victim.[1]

Q: Who is sexually abused?

A: Child sexual abuse isn’t uncommon. Children of all ages, races, ethnicities, and economic backgrounds are vulnerable to sexual abuse. Child sexual abuse affects both girls and boys in all kinds of neighborhoods and communities.[4]

Q: How many children are sexually abused?

A: Approximately one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before the age of eighteen, an overall estimate of one in five children. Many experts believe these figures are underestimated because many cases go unreported and will never be disclosed by the victim.[1]

Q: Why is sexual abuse so hard to prevent?

MORE +

20 Signs of Unresolved Trauma

Below is an interesting article by a trauma therapist who lists some potential signs/symptoms of unresolved trauma. It can be hard to recognize and accept the prevalence of these symptoms in our own lives or to know where they came from. This article may help shed some light on how unresolved trauma can impact some of us.

After recognizing many of these symptoms/signs in my own life, I knew I had to decide whether or not dealing with pain from my past would be worth the trouble. I didn’t know if it would be and knew it wouldn’t be a quick and easy process.

This article reminded me of some of the questions I asked myself and thoughts I pondered:

Is it harder to face how you were abused and who abused you? Or is it harder to live a life full of depression, anxiety, thoughts of suicide, troubled relationships, extreme fears, physical pain, and addictions?

Running from your trauma history will not help you feel better. In the short-run, you might not have to face the issues, but the cost in the long-run of unresolved trauma weighs more heavily than you might suspect.

Your life can be better than it is.

I ended up putting it off until I could no longer function and had to tap out (Symptoms 50 vs Ben -20).

Finally, I decided it would be worth the risk of experiencing the intense, and hopefully short-term pain of processing my past in order to lessen the occurrence of disabling symptoms in my life. With more and more time behind me, I have to admit it’s the best/hardest decision I have ever made.

What a terrifying yet incredibly brave step for anyone to take. Annaka and I wish we could be there to support more individuals who embark on this journey. We know how tough it is.

To those of you suffering from these types of symptoms, please consider seeking professional help. Also, know that you deserve a better quality of life, even if a better one seems impossible. Lastly, remember to be patient with the process. Healing takes time.

To those of you who are already on your journey and may feel like giving up, keep going! It’s worth it.

-Ben

P.S. Stay tuned. We’re working on more posts to share with you. Thanks for reading.

20 Signs of Unresolved Trauma

Many people enter the therapy process with minimal awareness of their trauma history. When the trauma survivors are dissociative, they have the ability to block out an awareness of their trauma. They may know that their family had problems, or that their family was dysfunctional, etc, but they may believe they were never abused.

However, blocking out conscious awareness of trauma does not mean that the survivors have no effects of that trauma. Using denial and dissociative skills does not mean that the abuse did not happen. Denial means that the person simply is refusing to acknowledge or accept the fact that they were traumatized. They are pretending they were not hurt, when they were actually hurt very badly.

Even if the memories of abuse are hidden from the survivor’s awareness, blocked trauma / unresolved trauma creates very noticeable and obvious symptoms that can be easily seen in their every day lives.

People will enter therapy aware of some of the following symptoms, but they may not realize these complications are suggestive of unresolved trauma issues:

1. Addictive behaviors – excessively turning to drugs, alcohol, sex, shopping, gambling as a way to push difficult emotions and upsetting trauma content further away.

2. An inability to tolerate conflicts with others – having a fear of conflict, running from conflict, avoiding conflict, maintaining skewed perceptions of conflict

3. An inability to tolerate intense feelings, preferring to avoid feeling by any number of ways

4. An innate belief that they are bad, worthless, without value or importance

5. Black and white thinking, all or nothing thinking, even if this approach ends up harming themselves

6. Chronic and repeated suicidal thoughts and feelings

7. Disorganized attachment patterns – having a variety of short but intense relationships, refusing to have any relationships, dysfunctional relationships, frequent love/hate relationships

8. Dissociation, spacing out, losing time, missing time, feeling like you are two completely different people (or more than two)

9. Eating disorders – anorexia, bulimia, obesity, etc

10. Excessive sense of self-blame – taking on inappropriate responsibility as if everything is their fault, making excessive apologies

11. Inappropriate attachments to mother figures or father figures, even with dysfunctional or unhealthy people

12. Intense anxiety and repeated panic attacks

13. Intrusive thoughts, upsetting visual images, flashbacks, body memories / unexplained body pain, or distressing nightmares

14. Ongoing, chronic depression

15. Repeatedly acting from a victim role in current day relationships

16. Repeatedly taking on the rescuer role, even when inappropriate to do so

17. Self-harm, self-mutilation, self-injury, self-destruction

18. Suicidal actions and behaviors, failed attempts to suicide

19. Taking the perpetrator role / angry aggressor in relationships

20. Unexplained but intense fears of people, places, things

These same symptoms can be applied for survivors already working in therapy. Attending regular therapy does not mean the clients have resolved their trauma issues or that they are even working in that general direction. Many therapy clients will continue to deny, dissociate, and refuse to look at their trauma even if they are aware of their daily struggles.

If you are experiencing a number of the symptoms listed above, ask yourself if you are truly ready to address your trauma issues, or if you find it more comfortable to continue living with these struggles.

Is it harder to face how you were abused and who abused you? Or is it harder to live a life full of depression, anxiety, thoughts of suicide, troubled relationships, extreme fears, physical pain, and addictions?

Running from your trauma history will not help you feel better. In the short-run, you might not have to face the issues, but the cost in the long-run of unresolved trauma weighs more heavily than you might suspect.

Your life can be better than it is.

Be brave – face your trauma issues!

By:

Kathy Broady MSW

Fire

When Learning an Adult Child Was Sexually Abused as a Child

Coming to terms with our abuse has been painful, even excruciating. We are so thankful for our mother and her guidance to both of us during this process. We are grateful that her number one priority was to always love us. Her support is invaluable. We thought it would be helpful for other parents to get her perspective on things. We appreciate her willingness to share her story and help others:

The very first feeling that I had when I found out Ben had been abused was disbelief and an intense desire not to believe; but underneath was the sure knowledge that what I was hearing was true and that, even though I had never mildly suspected anything or had any reason to, I suddenly knew the man involved was capable of child abuse. When I was able to grasp what I was hearing I felt hurt and betrayed by someone in a position of trust. I felt tremendous anger at the perpetrator and immense heartache for our son. I was angry that the school hadn’t protected him. I was frustrated that my husband and I hadn’t realized and intervened or known to help sooner with the aftermath. As I began to understand all the trauma that Ben had experienced (beginning when he was hardly more than a baby) I was grateful beyond words that my husband and I had loved him and reached out to him, even when he was making choices we couldn’t understand and that hurt us so deeply. I hadn’t judged him, but loved him and wanted to have a relationship with him in spite of any pain or disappointment I felt in the life he was living. All that he had been through, without me even knowing, has reinforced to me the importance of not judging anyone—ever.

Ben had tried so hard to forget his agony that he had buried the experience so deeply that he didn’t remember much at first. As he talked with his sisters who were at the elementary school with him they reassured him that nothing had happened to them. Even though Ben and Annaka had some similar and strange memories I was only too glad to accept her assurance that nothing had happened to her. She wasn’t ready to deal with her trauma and only had a few vague memories, including being alone in a dark hallway at the school and being frightened and disoriented. I don’t think I was ready to deal with the fact that two of our children had been so hurt and damaged.

A year later Annaka saw a therapist seeking help coping with the challenges presented by her severely ill and challenging son. When she told us of her diagnosis of PTSD I knew immediately it meant that she hadn’t escaped from elementary unscathed and had been abused by the same man.

One of the feelings that has made me the saddest is that I was so oblivious—oblivious to what had happened to Annaka and Ben in the first place and oblivious to the fallout they had been dealing with ever since. I have wondered why I didn’t pick up on what was happening at the time or the pain they have felt through the subsequent years. Why wasn’t I inspired to know that something was so terribly wrong? One of my biggest regrets in life is that because my husband and I were unaware, we couldn’t intervene sooner; help our children start healing sooner; spare them the pain and difficulties that have come from living with and suppressing this trauma for so long. I have learned that dwelling on these thoughts is counterproductive. All that has happened is the proverbial water under the bridge. It helps to concentrate on going forward and doing what I can to help them. I have also learned to include myself in the people I am not going to judge. I’ve learned not to worry about my parenting. I remind myself to focus on doing the best I can going forward. I have learned not to blame myself, but to believe that I am just the right person to help them now.

I believe that I have listened to Ben and Annaka each time either has wanted to talk. The process of healing is not quick and has lots of ups and downs. I have spent hours listening. I have been so grateful to be able to do at least that much for them, but it hasn’t been easy. I haven’t wanted to know the details of what they have endured or the struggles that have followed. Over the past few years I have been able to better endure the pain and sadness I have felt and can listen more easily.

I have gone through all the stages of grief. I have mourned all that was taken from our children and all that they have suffered. I have forgiven the abuser, but am astounded by all the emotional damage that he has caused for so many people and feel great sorrow that his life, knowledge, and talents have been put to such devastating use. What a tragedy. What a loss. What a waste.

Of all the emotions I have experienced the emotions that have surprised me are relief and gratitude. When Ben and Annaka were children and teenagers my husband and I noticed behaviors that concerned, but did not unduly alarm us, because they weren’t extreme and seemed typical of children and teenagers. Some of those behaviors included careless driving, some phobias, self-centeredness, the need to be in control. Ben and Annaka have succeeded in accomplishing a great deal, but as they moved through their young adult years they seemed to struggle more with life. They were more visibly depressed, angry, defensive, withdrawn, overwhelmed. It has been a tremendous relief to know that there was a reason for this, and the issue could be addressed and dealt with. One day I was walking through the elementary school with Annaka and Ben as part of their therapy. The secretary of the school was opening various rooms and closets and as horrible memories returned they would respond physically with tears or gagging. It was hard to watch, and the secretary was expressing her sorrow to me at the tragedy of the whole thing. As she spoke I realized that I probably wasn’t feeling as distraught as she thought. I was beginning to see healing and feel hope. I was beginning to feel the assurance that things were getting better.

Through the emotional roller coaster I have continued to feel the reassurance that they can and are healing and finding life more manageable and joyful. This has been a source of comfort and gratitude. I am in awe of Annaka and Ben’s strength and resilience. I am impressed by the people they are becoming. I am also grateful for their courage and desire to reach out and help others. As they have done this it not only has helped them heal, but has helped our whole family heal. As trite as this sounds I wish I could find words to express my gratitude for kind and knowledgeable people who have helped us and for our faith which has sustained us. I have never felt more profound gratitude for the Savior of the world and His healing influence. There is hope. We are all going to make it.

If there is anyone reading this who would find it helpful to talk to me I would love to talk to you.

*Meg can be reached through the “Contact Us” link on the blog.

Blessing

Mom and Annaka


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Mom and Ben

We Love You: Victims of Sexual Abuse

We’re overwhelmed with the response we’ve had since we did our first post exactly one week ago.

One intimidating thing about starting this new site is we didn’t know how people would react to us speaking up as victims. We can all relate to some life experiences that we’re so ashamed of or that cause us so much pain we plan to take them to the grave. This is us attempting to shed our shame.

It seems like in the media, we rarely get to hear about the hard work victims of abuse put in to heal. After some of the sensational news stories die down, the victims are the ones left still needing to recover. They don’t always have help and understanding from society.

News stories often seem to focus on whether an alleged perpetrator is guilty or not of committing a crime (Stephen Collins, Bill Cosby, Amanda Byne’s Father, Brian David Mitchell, Jerry Sandusky, Michael Jackson, leaders in the Boy Scouts of America, leaders in churches and Warren Jeffs etc.). While this may serve to protect a victim’s privacy and the accused who are actually innocent, the media doesn’t seem to spend as much time familiarizing society with the challenges victims of sexual abuse face after the abuse occurs.

We believe this needs to change. Our hope in opening up is to show, first-hand, the difficulties victims face as well as the process of healing. It is detrimental as victims when it feels like society doesn’t understand our perspective. We imagine victims will feel safer reaching out for help when all of us can openly discuss and understand some of these more uncomfortable topics. Fortunately this is exactly what has been happening since we began last week.

We are so touched by all of the love and support we’ve received through messages, likes, comments, and thousands of views to our site.

We have received dozens of messages from others whose lives have been impacted by abuse, ptsd, depression, multiple kinds of disorders, and even some impacted by the same perpetrator who abused us. This is an indication that many are ready to begin speaking about the pain and trials they’ve been burdening for so long. This is an indication that we’re all in need of  regular members of society to help share our burdens with, in addition to trained professionals. This is an indication that many are ready to heal.

It’s humbling to begin connecting with so many people and it’s helping us realize even more that no one needs to go through this alone. Victims need to feel more empathy and understanding.

Since we’re receiving questions and comments (and we’re not professionals and always recommend seeking professional help), we want to know what resources, books, techniques, therapists, groups, websites etc. others have found helpful in their healing process and feel comfortable sharing. We want to begin compiling some resources to help point anyone who might be in need of help in the right direction.

Please leave a comment, email us at contact@benandannaka.com or message us on our Facebook page.

We Love You

Interview with Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivors

Over a month ago, Ben reached out to The Foundation For Survivors of Abuse. It is a foundation created and directed by Deondra and Desirae Brown, two members of the piano chamber group, The 5 Browns. He wanted to thank them for all the work they’re doing on behalf of survivors of sexual abuse.

News of their case back in 2011 helped us learn about the statute of limitations for reporting cases of sexual abuse in Utah, which played a key role in how we moved forward with our own.

They asked Ben if we might be interested in doing a podcast for their series. After discussing it, we agreed to. Our goals align with those of this foundation. The two of us were both humbled and excited to have this opportunity to share some of our story as childhood sexual abuse survivors.

We want to thank Tera Brown for the time she took to interview us and for the brave work she does as an advocate for survivors of sexual abuse. We encourage anyone suffering from the effects of sexual abuse to visit their site, survivingabuse.org, for resources and information on the legal processes. We encourage everyone to visit their site and support this much needed organization.

 Ben_Annie_Young

Break the Silence: Survivors of Sexual Abuse

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. 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

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