Thursday, May 3, 2012
When Memories Haunt You
It took over 10 years to begin to make sense of the memories that haunted me and nearly another 10 years to actually talk to a counselor about what I remembered.
I cried a lot. It's hard to put words to the memories. Harder still to push through the shame to explain what I participated in. By then I had already believed the lies. I had already come to my own conclusions about what doing "that" said about me.
I was living in such denial. When a memory entered I escorted it away as quickly as I could. I had no idea the full impact of my denial until I sought counseling in my mid-twenties.
Counseling has brought perspective and healing into a difficult situation. It's been more then 10 years since I sat in the counselor's office for the first time. Although I cannot say that the memories don't surface every now and then, bringing the truth into the light was the best thing I ever did. The memories no longer have control over me.
There are consequences to hurts. Even with healing, scars still remain. The scars remind me of what I've worked through. They are a sign of the amazing healing I have already experienced. Dealing seems much harder then denial. And sometimes the lies are so indwelled that even though your head knows the truth your heart has a harder time actually believing it. I still struggle with patterns and attitudes that are connected to the abuse. I harbor a shame that I can't seem to shake. I possess a deep desire to feel protected and in control of things. These are the struggles that remain.
Silence is not healthy. Pretending things didn't happen won't help you. This is not only true for dealing with sexual abuse, but all hidden hurts and pains. You cannot deal with things you don't acknowledge. You cannot outrun memories, but you can speak truth into them.
This is why I feel so passionately about what my friend, Carolyn, is advocating. Many years in the making, Rise and Shine Movement was born from a children's book Carolyn Ruch wrote loosely based on her own face-to-face encounter with sexual abuse as a child. She ran away from a perpetrator and into the arms of her Father, who immediately took action.
Rise and Shine Movement is a non-profit organization seeking to empower adults to protect children from sexual abuse. A digital version of her book, "Rise and Shine: A Tool for the Prevention of Childhood Sexual Abuse" is available online for free to view with the children in your life. There is also a book trailer and discussion questions for adults to view and use as a resource for discussing this important topic with kids.
The best antidote for childhood sexual abuse is knowledge. Appropriate information at the right age will help protect your child. It's important to build a bridge of communication between you and your child so they know what to do if they encounter a perpetrator, especially if it's someone they know and trust (which is 90% of all perpetrators).
One out of every four girls and one out of every six boys will be violated by his or her eighteenth birthday. I cannot change what happened to me, but I can speak up now. The statistics demand we take action.
Isn't it worth it if you could protect even one child? Join the movement.
If you or someone you love has been sexually abused I highly suggest seeking professional counseling. There is power and healing in acknowledging it.
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Linking today with "Thought Provoking Thursdays" and "Getting Down With Jesus".
Since writing this post I have written more about My Passion and my story which you can find by clicking here.