HOW I GOT HERE

As a survivor of many types of abuse from birth to right before I started my senior year of high school, I was born into a generational satanic cult, sex trafficked by four family members, and experienced awful things you don’t want to imagine.

After years of feeling ashamed about what happened to me, I finally realized in 2022 that I was not the one who should be ashamed. The abusers should be. I discovered that telling my story and supporting other survivors has helped me heal. It also permits others to share their story.

I WAS OUT OF THE TRAUMA, OR SO I THOUGHT

Back in 2017 I was so burned out from having work on my brain 24/7/265 and traveling 26 weekends per year for three years in a row, I ended up closing my business and transitioned my six nonprofits to other management, while also starting a consulting company.

I crashed and burned physically and emotionally for quite a while because of all the pain I’d locked up inside when I was working so much. I didn’t know that if you were abused as a child, the trauma shows up in your body in various ways later in life. I had hip and lower back pain, which kept me from being able to sit still for more than 2 or 3 minutes for about 15 months. Despite all the specialists and all the treatments I went through, nothing helped until physical therapy. And, of course, insurance will only pay so much for that. Yoga has made a massive difference for me over the past few years.

“The lives of many trauma survivors come to revolve around bracing against and neutralizing unwanted sensory experiences, and most people I see in my practice have become experts in such self-numbing. They may become serially obese, anorexic, or addicted to exercise or work. At least half of all traumatized people try to dull their intolerable inner world with drugs or alcohol…

“When people are chronically angry or scared, constant muscle tension ultimately leads to spasms, back pain, migraine headaches, fibromyalgia, and other forms of chronic pain. They may visit multiple specialists, undergo extensive diagnostic tests, and be prescribed various medications, some of which may provide temporary relief, but all of which fail to address the underlying issues. Their diagnosis will come to define their reality without ever being identified as a symptom of their attempt to cope with trauma.” The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, Bessel Van Der Kolk, MD, Pages 387-388.

Looking back, my experience is a common one because society rewards us for our accomplishments.
It was a bitter pill at the time, but in retrospect, I’m glad it happened. If I continued in my delusions, my emptiness and loneliness would never have gone away. I now have better relationships with my children and others, and close friendships rather than just acquaintances.

I still have a lot of grieving to do. Many years’ worth. It isn’t just for the death of someone; it’s for the trauma I survived, missing an entire childhood and all the years of feeling like I was the only person in the world I could trust. When I lost 100 pounds in 2009 – 2010 it took many days during the holidays crying and purging things in my house before my relationship with food changed.

There are many stages of grief – some say 5, 7 or even more. At USURNS Online, Funeral director Karen Holden says there are 12:

  1. Healing takes place over time.
  2. Grief is universal yet distinctive.
  3. Shock is the prelude to the grieving process.
  4. Grief can cause depression
  5. Grief can cause health problems.
  6. You might panic.
  7. Grief can cause guilt.
  8. Grief can cause anger.
  9. Grief causes intense emotions. 
  10. Grief causes a lack of direction and purpose.
  11. Hope brings healing. And vice versa.
  12. Acceptance means that your loss has changed you, but you have not been defeated by it.

Although I still have some grieving to do, I have healed enough to have a loving relationship and marriage. When God put my husband, John Ross, in my life over six years ago, I had no concept of what being treated well and with respect meant. It took me a while to believe the good things happening were deserved and real, not just manipulation. 

Last year, I discovered my calling was speaking up and advocating for the voiceless. Not only children but those adults are still living behind the walls of shame because of the trauma they experienced. I realize that I share and talk about things people don’t want to hear or believe are happening, but I can’t ignore what’s happening in our world and all around us.

STOP THE SILENCE® is a global movement. Speaking about evil helps expose it.  

STOP THE SILENCE® Thriving After Child Sexual Abuse was written by 23 authors from 9 countries. Each of us (including a parent and professionals) has a chapter, sharing our story and tips that helped us heal. See More