Saturday, March 8, 2008

God gave this Survivor a Big Mouth for a Reason!

I was once asked, "What has being able to speak out done for you?” and “What has it given you that is positive?”

I could sit and write for HOURS! What an incredible opportunity to express a tragic event that I turned positive in my life – along with a lot of other Survivors and Advocates!

First and foremost, speaking out IS positive! Why? My opinion is that there are so many myths about sexual assault and when Survivors speak out, it is twofold. Individuals who have only “heard” or read about sexual assault hear a different side when they put a face with a voice and story. They tend to listen with both ears and their head and heart. When survivors hear other survivor stories, they are being validated – which is by far one of the most important things a survivor needs.

What has speaking out done for me? Not only has it helped with my personal growth and relationships, but it has given me the ability to further myself into a career that I never saw coming, I have a passion for, and I wouldn’t trade for the world. I know I am making a difference in my community!

I started speaking out seven years ago in a community, along with my son. He and I were victims at the hands of my ex of domestic violence sixteen years ago. I was also sexually assaulted when I was a young teenager by my uncle. My son gave me the strength to speak out! He spoke in High Schools, while I spoke at churches, local community gatherings, etc. (How many tissues do you think I needed when we were both awarded “Speakers of the Year” our first year!)

I have continued this work in another state by speaking at local colleges, churches, etc. I also teach Violence Prevention in middle and high schools and educate students about sexual assault and domestic violence. I feel it is so important to reach our children to inform them of the prevention of sexual assault, what sexual assault is, and where they can go for help. For some children, some don’t realize what is being done to them is actually sexual assault. Also, they don’t realize that people in their community care about them enough to let them know where to find help.

I speak to approximately 3,000 children each year about violence prevention and to me, I can’t think of a more positive outcome of such a tragic event in my life! Even if I helped save only one child a year from being sexually assaulted…

To be able to share stories for others have endless possibilities! Not only does it help validate other survivors, let’s them know they are not alone, it may help give ideas for other advocates to help their community and in turn help other survivors! Let’s keep this cycle of sharing continuing!

At one point in our lives (us Survivors) were being controlled and overpowered by the abuser. If all Survivors spoke out we could help control the myths and help prevent sexual assault or domestic violence from taking place in our children and grandchildren’s future!

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