an (un)likely story: from abuse to healing

TRIGGER WARNING: mentions of sexual abuse, molestation, sexual coercion, self-mutilation. the triggering text is noted by border lines.

if you need immediate help or resources for these issues, skip the text, and scroll down to the bottom border.


{note: i encourage you to share this as you deem necessary. i only ask that you please do so in full--including the trigger warning--and with proper credit. thank you in advance.}

peace & blessings.
may Esu open the road to ire.
may the necessary healing commence, always and in All Ways.

i am a descendant of enslaved africans.

i am a straight (heterosexual), cisgender (i.e., i identify fully with the sex and gender i was assigned at birth) woman.

i was raised in a wonderfully loving, supportive household with both my parents, and in a similarly loving and supportive extended family that i am still close to today.

from the ages of about 5-12, i experienced rape and varying levels of molestation and what might be termed sexual assault. i've written about this semi-publicly, both as personal narrative and what might be termed creative non-fiction.

there was not a steady stream of abuse in those years; there were stops and starts. i have not meticulously reconstructed the timeline, but i would guess that there were several incidents from age 5 to about 6-7, then a number of things that occurred during 6-7th grade.

i never forgot or suppressed these things. however, due to a number of factors, i didn't talk to anyone about the totality of my experience for a very long time.

obviously, i didn't grow up to "hate" men or manhood. in fact, i may have loved them a little too much at times. the people who did this were peers, not adults. thus, i thought it was normal to be treated in this way, since "tween" boys were just "stupid and horny" all the time. similarly, because i could trust the adult men in my life wholeheartedly--a blessing i am thankful for each and every day--i guessed it was something boys my age did when they "liked you". the grown-up version of love taps.

later, i discovered that at least one of these boys had been sexually abused themselves. i suspect at least one other was as well. maybe all of them were.

somewhere around 16-17, some time after what should have been a joyous, loving sexual experience, i wound up in therapy. i spent years trying to determine who i was, sorting out all my feelings, pain, needs and desires--the usual work of adolescence, but with an ugly twist.

i walked around in a haze of pain, once so palpable that a teacher kept me after class to express her concern. i barely remember my upperclassman years in high school.

i thought about killing myself, cutting...and when i got beyond wanting to kill the pain, i elaborately planned ways to hurt with the same power that had been used against me. in the end, i really just wound up hurting the one who loved me the most at the time. my empathy quickly nipped that in the bud.

why am i saying all this so explicitly today? well, given some of the rather monolithic discussions and gross misconceptions i've heard lately on the topic, i hoped to shed some light.

there are no "rules" as to how someone evolves after having had this experience. the experience of rape, sexual abuse, molestation and coercion is a multi-layered,complex, and difficult one. of course, this is just my story, and i can speak for no one else.

truth be told, i've had women share much worse with me after they read a blog entry or saw me comment somewhere. this is bigger, broader, and more prevalent than many of us realize.

men are suffering from these experiences, too--both as survivors and lovers of survivors. and with men, the silence around it all can be even more deafening, and their pain can have more disastrous results (women tend to go inward...men tend to express outward, harming and abusing others).

yes, there are trends, research, things we've learned over time as people come forward. work is still being done to understand the survivors and the perpetrators--not to mention heal the wounds left behind.

however, to pretend we understand what this does to everyone who experiences it is a dangerous fallacy we cannot afford, especially since so many are still hanging in the balance, waiting to tell their secret.

i encourage you--when you feel safe--to tell yours.

i encourage you to be that safe space for a sista, a brotha, a friend, a loved one, a child.

i encourage you to dismiss preconceived notions around who this happens to, when, and why.

i encourage you to dismiss preconceived notions about what help may look like. my first therapist was a diminutive white woman from the deep south with an even deeper accent. but her entire practice was dedicated to sexually abused children--from toddlers to adolescents--and she was brilliant at it. my second (although i saw her for different reasons) was a disabled white woman who was a powerful spiritual healer in addition to her conventional therapy practice.

when you take true steps towards healing, the rewards are unimaginable. i won't lie to you: it is not an easy road. but it is a fulfilling one--far sweeter than resentment,hate, self-loathing, and despair. and there is a community--even if it's not the one you're in now--that will help you heal.

you deserve to be wholly, fully, completely, and blissfully yourself...despite the pain, despite the mistakes, despite the walls and the barriers you've used to protect yourself.

you deserve to be loved.

i hope that this, in some small way, pushes you closer to fully accepting that fact.

thank you for listening.

peace be with you.


if you need help, or for more information:

  • RAINN (rape, abuse & incest national network) -  800-656-HOPE (24 Hour Confidential Rape Hotline)
  • Generation Five
  • NO! The Rape Documentary
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233
  • National Victim Center: 800-FYI-CALL (394-2255)
  • Document the Silence
  • Why Won't She Leave?
  • Depression Hotline: 1-630-482-9696
  • Suicide Hotline: 1-800-784-8433
  • LifeLine: 1-800-273-8255
  • Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386 (LGBTQI youth suicide prevention)
  • Sexuality Support: 1-800-246-7743
  • Eating Disorders Hotline: 1-847-831-3438
  • Rape and Sexual Assault: 1-800-656-4673
  • Grief Support: 1-650-321-5272
  • Runaway: 1-800-843-5200, 1-800-843-5678, 1-800-621-4000
  • Exhale: After Abortion Hotline/Pro-Voice: 1-866-439–4253

(c) L.A.M., all rights reserved

*author's note: originally posted as a note on facebook, 6.29.2011. re-posted here on 11.28.2011 under its original post date for preservation purposes.

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