Content Warning: Abuse, Sexual Assault, PTSD, Mention of Suicidal Thoughts.
Well, you almost had me fooled
Told me that I was nothing without you
Oh, but after everything you've done
I can thank you for how strong I have become
'Cause you brought the flames and you put me through hell
I had to learn how to fight for myself
And we both know all the truth I could tell
I'll just say this is "I wish you farewell"
Recently, I've been reflecting a lot on being abused. I'm still angry about it. I'm still depressed it happened to me. Some days are better than others. The worst feeling, though, is the shame and pain I feel that it happened and that I can't just get over that it happened to me.
Four years ago, I was psychologically abused in what should have been a professional situation. For anyone who has experienced being abused in any way, they could tell you that healing isn't guaranteed and it definitely doesn't exist in a straight path. I think we could all agree that healing from most situations is like that. However, for a lot of people who are abused, they can develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which I live with. When you live with any mental illness like PTSD, depression, and so on, there's no "cure." There's only treatment and living with it. Every day. For your whole life. This article that I wrote about Kesha and about one her biggest fans, my cousin Lindsay, was the very beginning of the point in time that I realized how much I wanted to advocate for survivors but didn't know how to.
Right now, I wish I could rewrite that article that I wrote for Stitched Sound in 2016 because of the growth in awareness for survivors of rape and sexual abuse with the #metoo movement. I feel more equipped to write something like this than I did in 2016. You don't have to go and read it because I'm going to tell you what it is about. It's about how Kesha deserved retributions and safe workplace like we all do. It was about how the law (sometimes) protects other women in their workplaces and that often if a woman doesn't want to work with her abuser she can sometimes go elsewhere. However, legally Kesha had been obligated to continue working with her abuser. It's about how my cousin was one of the people who sat through Kesha's court date in January 2016 and hugged her and told her she didn't deserve to have to go through all of that. What would the world be like if we all had a Lindsay there to hug us and tell us that we didn't deserve to endure the trauma we did?
Today, that article showed up on my feed on Facebook. Last year at this time, I saw her, the abuser, in a public place. My health started to fail because the stress the situation put me through causing more symptoms with other health issues. I could hardly walk, buckle a seatbelt, or stay awake and it was affecting my life. I was thinking suicidal thoughts on a regular basis and felt like I was truly worth nothing. The person who abused me caused me to believe I was worth nothing and completely unable to be a success. Only a few months ago, I left childcare to start a new career and I love it. Then plans changed a little only weeks ago. I found out I was going to be relocated and offered a new position. I was scared and thought I wasn't going to be able to do it because of having PTSD. Sitting at my new desk eating my lunch, I see the article I wrote about Kesha and Lindsay. I open it and read while I eat. "I still have nightmares on a regular basis where the abuser tells me I am not good enough... The abuse I endured was so minuscule compared Kesha’s story but I remember the months of time where I allowed my abuser to manipulate me into thinking it was my fault...This is the one time in my life that I had no choice but to be brave and speak up, and so I see Kesha defending herself and feel kindred to her."
Lately, there are a lot of people speaking up for themselves and their bravery is something beautiful to me. However, hearing their stories is emotionally a lot of work. I started going to therapy to work through a lot of repressed issues I have that needed to be spoken about. It's time to be brave for me too. In November, I started volunteering for A Voice For The Innocent because I was tired of just talking about how important it is to believe survivors and wanted to do something about it. My cousin's actions in her support of Kesha and how Kesha influenced her for the better also influenced me to take a step forward and tell survivors of abuse and assault of any kind that they are not alone. I want to do the work that is the equivalent of a hug and you deserve something better. Many of the stories are disturbing but honestly, I am so grateful for the opportunity to let these people know they are heard and that they are so brave for sharing something so deeply personal and traumatic. AVFTI is a small part of my life but so important because I learned I am NOT a victim. I am a survivor. So many people contact AVFTI on a daily basis to share their stories. The song "Praying" moved me to tears the first time I heard it. I've been crying so much lately because I feel like all of the emotional labor I've endured while healing is making a dent in my life. It's happy tears because I'm proud of myself. I want other survivors to feel proud of the steps they take to healing, however small. I'm going to close out with one more lyric from the song.
I'm proud of who I am
No more monsters, I can breathe again
And you said that I was done
Well, you were wrong and now the best is yet to come
'Cause I can make it on my own, oh
And I don't need you, I found a strength I've never known
I'll bring thunder, I'll bring rain, oh
When I'm finished, they won't even know your name
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