You are enough! I will keep saying that over and over. This is the second part of my trauma series. I decided that the blog post was just too long to fit into one post. Check out the You Are Not Alone blog post to read stories from 3 more amazing women. They have courageously shared their stories and I believe they are worth reading.
I’ve already shared many statistics in the previous blog post but found a few more worth sharing. Not only is rape something women face, but child sexual abuse is something so many girls face too. Every 9 minutes child protective services substantiates or finds evidence for a claim of child sexual abuse. Of all abuse victims under 18, 2/3rds are age 12-17 years old. 93% know their abuser.
People that have experienced child sexual abuse or rape are more likely to use drugs, have PTSD, and are 3x more likely to have a major depressive episode as an adult. The affects of these traumas often lasts for many years. You are not alone and you are enough even though you’ve experienced these traumas!
These stories will be difficult to read. 81% of women have experience some form of sexual harassment or assault in their lifetime. So, these are stories of so many women. While they are all so different, they are also so similar. Please take a moment to hear from each of these amazing women.
My trauma story started at the age of 15. When you are “in love” and can be persuaded to do things you aren’t ready for. I knew I wasn’t ready and said “NO”. I was 15, and still had my innocence take from me. Since I was so young, I didn’t really comprehend what was going on. All I remember is laying there, in a daze, while I was robbed of something so pure. I thought if I just went along with it he would “love” me more. I wish at that I knew at that time that was so not true.
Fast forward a few years. Summer of 2011, and just graduated HS. I was excited to be going out with friends for the weekend. We were in a college town a few hours from home. Because of my experience at 15, I was very cautious with the situations I put myself into. We went to a part. I was surrounded by my best friend and a handful of people I already knew. Everything was going great and we were having a great time, until I could no longer remember what was going on. I’m not a big drinker. It takes me close to an hour to finish just 1 drink. I set my drink down to take a few pictures with my friends, it lasted about 30 seconds. After that, the night is a blur. I remember fragments of the night. It was late and my best friends fell asleep on the couch. There were only a few people that I didn’t recognize. I remember trying to find my way to a bathroom. I was “assisted” by one of the unfamiliar faces and could barely walk. I was led to a doorway that I thought was the bathroom, but ended up being a dark bedroom that had a few of those unfamiliar faces in it. I was coerced into bed because I couldn’t stay awake, couldn’t keep myself together. To this day, I still remember it was 2:38am, that’s the time on the clock on the wall. There were 3 males in that room with me. I don’t remember explicit details, but my body knew what happened. My body was disrespected and violated that night. I was sore, and have bruises in the shape of fingers on my wrists and ankles. I had stains on my clothes, dried blood in my underwear and inner thighs. It hurt to get up and walk the next morning. I knew these unfamiliar faces were responsible for that night becoming a blur. To this day, 12 years later, I still struggle trying to piece together events of that night.
The first experience I had at 15 changed me because once that innocence is gone, you can’t ever get it back. I felt dirty and confused. It turned me into someone I wasn’t proud of. I used sex as a coping mechanism. I used sex to be able to “work through the trauma.” I was always careful, but it changed me.
My trauma gave me a different perspective of what love is, how relationships work and what men are capable of. I still have a hard time trusting men. I’m finally comfortable enough with my current parter of a little over a year to let go. He make me feel safe and always asks if I’m ok. He’s helped me work though my trauma. He’s patient, kind and compassionate with me. My ex of 8 years was never like that. He always made me feel like it was MY fault. Like I was “asking for it”.
I never really told anyone about what happened to me. I’ve told a few people I knew wouldn’t judge me. I never reported it because I din’t think anyone would. believe me. It was my word against theirs. The world favors the white male over any woman any day, so I figured I didn’t stand a chance in achieving justice for myself. I was scared. I let myself down.
I’ve been in therapy for forever. I’ve been hospitalized for depression and taken many different meds. Therapy has helped significantly, as time has also helped. The “Me Too” movement, has helped so many women be able to cope and break free from these chains. I got a tattoo last year on my thigh of Medusa, the symbol for sexual assault. It was a long tattoo to sit through, but the pain helped in a way, and now I have a permanent reminder of how far I’ve come and how strong I am. I love showing her off.
I wanted to share my story so others know it’s OK to come forward. I want others to know they are NOT alone. There are so many resources out there to help women and men who share my story. The trauma, if not worked on, can fester and eat you alive. It’s so important to take control of your trauma so you can begin the journey of healing. I hope my story is able to help at least one person out there. Also, I feel like this is the last step in my own personal healing journey.
I want to thank Sarah for doing a project like this. I never thought I would volunteer myself for something like this. It’s helping me on so many levels, to finally be able to break free from the wright I’ve been carrying on my shoulders for so long!
“I was almost 18. A guy I worked with was always flirtatious with me. Recently, I had broken up with my HS sweetheart of almost 4 years. He found out and invited me to stop by his house. At first it was pretty innocent and I didn’t notice no one else was home. We made out a little but, which was ok. But, things progressed more than I was comfortable with. He started getting aggressive and wouldn’t let me slow things down or stop. He forced himself on me. Left me black and blue, but luckily in all places easily covered by my clothes. When he finally let me go, I’ll never forget what he said to me as I was frantically getting my clothes back on. He said “you better get out of here quick, my girlfriend will be here soon.” I didn’t understand how this person I knew could suddenly be so vile. I went home, showered and and hid under my blankets in bed, telling my mom I didn’t feel well. I told nobody for quite some time. In between then and the 29 years later in therapy, only a handful of people knew.
My trauma has affected most of my adult sex life. I’ve had a hard time looking at it as something to be enjoyed, it was something just to make my husband happy. After therapy, that has greatly changed! My therapist once said “it’s a gift we can give each other with someone we love.” That struck a cord with me. my entire outlook on sex has completely change and my husband had to get used to this new version of me.
I have a very hard time seeing someone hurt another person. I can’t watch it, as I feel so helpless, so I avoid it in movies or shows. The news can be a source that’s extremely hard for me. I don’t think this will every change.
I also think it helped me raise my 3 sons to be very respectful of women, especially as they’re entering a physical relationship with women. I’ve always been an open book with my boys. When the timing was right, I shared my general story with them. I think it’s made them more aware of consent and making sure their partner is on the same page with them.
It’s taken me 29 years to be brave enough to tell my therapist. One day as I was walking out the door I said “Hey, I have something we probably should address sometime, I was raped 29 years ago.” One of the hardest sentences I’ve said, as I knew there was no turning back. Walking through it all was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but also incredibly freeing. My only regret is that I wasn’t brave enough to do it sooner. I decided to tell my story in hopes it could help even one victim lose the shame and be brave enough to come forward. Maybe if more of us talk about it, others will be brave enough to com forward with their story and allow them to finally heal. It’s a heavy burden to carry, even when you think you’ve tucked it away, it’s there and affecting you.
I think I’ve babbled on long enough already! No, actually I do have something else…. I’ve always thought about doing a Boudoir session with Sarah. You know, the typical if I lose X amount of pounds… maybe one day. After many therapy sessions around the assault I really felt incredibly proud of myself. I felt more free than I had my entire adult life. It hit me like a light bulb going off over my head like you see in cartoons, my gift to myself for finally being brave and face it would be a session with Sarah! Claim my body back, help me feel attractive again. Those extra pounds didn’t matter anymore. Seeing how beautiful she made me look and feel was a great step in the healing of how I viewed myself. I wasn’t just a damaged person anymore. Those pictures are so incredibly empowering for me! I already want to do another session. That pink couch is calling me….”
“When I was in middle school my Mom began dating a new man. She was so happy and at first it was nice to have him around. Growing up, we never had much. With him around, we finally were able to go out to eat and go fun places. But, this came with a cost that we didn’t quite realize at the time. I started having these weird sexual dreams. Dreams about him touching me in places that no one had touched me before. I would try to wake myself up from these dreams as they’d make me feel gross and uncomfortable. I’d feel his hands groping my breasts and fingers be pushed into places they shouldn’t. I’d try to tell him to stop but the words wouldn’t come out. At about the same time, we started noticing I’d have these little dizzy spells in the evening. They’d come and go. This went on for awhile. My sister and I shared a bedroom and I slept on the top bunk. One morning I woke up to find that I had no underwear on and found them clear across the room. It was at that moment that I realized my dreams weren’t dreams. All of the gross and disgusting things I thought were dreams, were all things that were actually happening! Turns out the dizzy spells were because I was drugged. Til this day, I’m still not sure from what, we suspect sleeping pills hidden in my after dinner dessert pudding. My moms boyfriend would come in during the night and would mess with me while I was drugged and couldn’t fight!
Anyone that knows me, knows I can be pretty vocal about things. I freaked out and immediately called a friend, who told me I had to tell my mom immediately. That night, my mom had me, her boyfriend and her sit around the dinner table and discuss. Of course he denied all of it… and had apologized if “he ever did something that would have made me feel uncomfortable”. My mom fell for it and believed it all. She was head over heels in love. And she thought I just didn’t like him, since he wasn’t my dad. Over the next couple of years, I told quite a few people about what happened. I started seeing a psychologist and was diagnosed with depression. Screaming my abuse from the rooftops, I told my psychologist, my hs counsoler, DCFS, many friends and more. No one seemed to believe me or do anything about it. I think because of my depression they were all unsure if I was making it up or not. My mom even went on to marry my abuser. The abuse continued to happen for a few years. Eventually he got tired of me telling everyone, or maybe I just got too old for him, I’m not sure and it stopped. Years later through a series of events, we ended up pressing charges against him. After 2 long years in court he was sentenced to 12 years in prison. We also found out through the courts that this wasn’t his first offense. He did it to others, he did it to me and he would have continued if we hadn’t sent him to prison.
The biggest impact of my trauma really has nothing to do with the abuse itself. It is never feeling like I’m enough. It’s the mere fact that I was screaming it from the rooftops and no one believed me. No one stopped it. That alone has impacted me the most. It’s impacted all of my relationships. I was shy and kept to myself in HS, never let most people get to know the real me. In HS and college I acted out sexually… as I thought that was how people showed me love. Needless to say, I was incredibly depressed and dated guys who treated me like crap. I didn’t feel like I deserved more. Over time, I developed an eating disorder and used to cut myself. Truly, I hated myself and assumed everyone else did too.
I’ve been in LOTS of counseling. And there are days that I still struggle. About 10 years ago I started photographing more and more boudoir (I’m the owner of this page!). Boudoir is really where I found my passion. Through connecting with women I’ve learned that my story while different, is a similar story to so many women. I’ve learned to reclaim my body back. Over time, I’ve learned acceptance and every day I’m working to remember that I AM ENOUGH.
The biggest reason I wanted to do this project is because of the statistics. So so many women are impacted by sexual trauma of some sort. Some talk about it, some don’t. It’s my hope that by being open with my story, I can help someone else heal.”
I’m so incredibly proud of the women who came together to be part of this project. You are all amazing, worthy and enough. Thank you for telling your story in the hopes that someone else won’t feel alone. That they will know they are worthy of healing and getting the help they need. And if you ever just need to talk and tell your story, I’m here to you. I’m here to listen. And I’m here to help find resources for you if you need.
If you want to join a community of amazing and accepting women, feel free to join my private VIP Group on Facebook!
Want to read 3 more stories from other courageous women about their trauma experiences? Click HERE to read more.