Talking about sexual abuse can be an uncomfortable subject. When the topic comes up, you can sense the tension in the room. It’s raw emotion, it’s a wrong kind of feeling and in the past, it has always been swept under the proverbial rug. The mere thought of someone imposing their will over another human being for their own self gratification makes people shiver. So, the topic is generally avoided. I don’t blame those who avoid it, I wish I could too. How can someone heal if anytime they need or want to talk about it, their audience gets generally uncomfortable and uneasy?
I had recently passed a milestone in my recovery from childhood sexual abuse. It has been 7 years since I first shared my story to my wife (she was the first person to know). My abuser was my father and at the time he was a very involved member in my life. In an instant I had flashed back all of the memories from my past and at very moment, I resolved that he would never be in my life again. Removing him from my life was not an exercise of anger (although at the time it probably was) and it was not an exercise of revenge. It was an exercise if protection. The day I came to terms with my past was the day I viewed him for what he is and there is no going back. There are no apologies that can be made that will ever erase the memories that I have and there is no relationship that can be mended from something like this. While I have forgiven the man who took away my innocence when I was 10 years old, I have never and will never forget. I am still haunted by those nights.
Since coming forward with my painful past I have had to face my healing without my parents. As we grow up and face different challenges in life we often look to our parents for help and guidance to get us through tough times. As a child it is to put band-aids on our cuts, as a teen and adult we look for our parents for wisdom and assurance. There has been many times during my healing that I wish I could just run to the arms of my parents hoping that they could tell me that it would be all right. In my case, that is not an option. I have nightmares of my past that continue to haunt me and the mere sight of my father brings back pain that is -at times- almost unbearable. When people say that a certain person is “dead to them”, I know exactly how that feels. It is a sad reality and one that I wish it wasn’t so.
In order to heal, I have spent the last couple of years trying to break the stigma that surrounds sexual abuse. I know from experience the power of healing that comes from support of the people around me. Just to have someone legitimately believe me is truly a miracle drug. All it takes is an open ear and an open mind to save someone who has been through something like this. While I have wrestled with the thought that this has now become my life’s mission, surviving sexual abuse is the only thing that I know I am good at. I have spent almost 30 years of my life doing it! It has unwittingly become my life’s work and now I must strive harder at helping others who have had similar paths in life. Each of us has to make more people uncomfortable with the topic as through this uneasiness of raw emotion is where we will find real growth; not only as a survivor but as a human. Sexual abuse is an epidemic but unlike other diseases, this one is completely treatable and curable if we just open up the dialogue and make more victims into survivors.
Join me and thousands of others across Canada on July 23rd, 2016 at noon in the Victor Walk. A public walk to raise awareness about childhood trauma. Not only will you be making a stand against childhood trauma but you will also be supporting those who have survived.
For more information please visit http://victorwalk.com/