As April, Sexual Assault Month winds down, I am continuing to be moved by the response from people about the display at the library and my articles about sexual abuse. While there is still work to do, awareness about the increase of sexual abuse in children and adults in Jackson County is growing!
I received a moving call from a mother whose child is a recent victim of sexual abuse from a close family member. Not only is the child hurting, but this mother is struggling with feelings of guilt and anger. This mother was a victim herself as a child, and those memories of her pain, shame and humiliation have returned- just as if the abuse had happened today. She was pleading for help for herself and her child. While her child is the primary victim, mom is a “secondary victim.” So, I am starting to work with mom here in my office to help her process her feelings.
Someone I know well is using the book, The Wounded Heart- Hope for Victims of Childhood Sexual abuse by Dan B. Allender and the accompanying workbook to help him work through his childhood trauma. He is finding these tremendously helpful and although sometimes painful, he’s determined to find hope in the healing process. It is written from a Christian perspective, but is not judgmental or victim blaming.
“As human being we belong to an extremely resilient species. Since time immemorial, we have rebounded from . . .wars ...disasters . . and violence and betrayal in our own lives. But traumatic experiences do leave traces, whether on a large scale or close to home, on our families with dark secrets being passed down through generations. They also leave traces on our minds and emotions, on our capacity for joy and intimacy and even on our biology and immune systems. Trauma affects not only those who are directly exposed to it, but also to those around them.” Wise (and quite true) words from Dr. Bellse van der Kolk, author of “The Body Keeps Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma.
If you, or someone you know and care about is, or has been a victim of sexual violence, please encourage them to seek help- either through books or counseling. There is hope and healing after trauma. The following Psalm touched my heart and I hope it does yours as well.
I have been victimized.
I was in a fight that was not a fair fight.
I did not ask for the fight I lost.
There is no shame in losing such fights.
I have reached the stage of survivor and
Am no longer a slave of victims status.
I look back with sadness rather than hate.
I look forward with hope rather than despair.
I may never forget, but I need not constantly remember.
I was a victim.
I am a survivor.