In light of the PENN State tragedy I have been doing a lot of thinking of victims of childhood sexual abuse. It’s actually a subject I have always given a lot of time to, because it is one very personal to me. I was a victim of sexual abuse when I was just 4 years old. It happened at the hands of my preschool teacher. Unfortunately it wasn’t the only time I was victimized. I was later victimized by the stepfather of a school friend, a castmate in a community theatre musical, and a neighbor’s son. And then I took over the job of abuser of myself. Without realizing it I continued the cycle by engaging in relationships with people who would not treat me as I deserved to be treated, but who instead fulfilled the deep dark image that I had of myself, that I wasn’t beautiful, that I wasn’t worthy, that I would never, ever know real love. I wasn’t even aware of the stranglehold the abuse had on me, I just thought that these feelings, these thoughts were organically mine. But they weren’t. They grew from the wretched seeds that were planted in my psyche 37 years ago in a closet in my preschool. That’s why in the wake of this current National tragedy I want to take this opportunity while everyone is musing about child sexual abuse to point out things that we can say to these innocent victims to help them move forward in life, not as repeat victims as I was, but as survivors; strong, beautiful, loved survivors. Together we can drown out the echos of the abuse, but we have to be loud and we have to be repetitive. For just because a child victim of sexual abuse doesn’t talk about their tragedy doesn’t mean that it is not tragically affecting them and their choices everyday. Because I guarantee that it is. We couldn’t protect them then, but we can be proactive to protect them now and into the future of their maturation.
- You are worthy of love.
- A loving touch is not a touch that makes you scared, or sad, or angry.
- You did not ask for what happened to you.
- You did not invite this abuse.
- You did not deserve to be abuse.
- You did nothing wrong.
- I’m sorry I wasn’t there to protect you.
- Just because you trusted your abuser doesn’t mean that everyone you want to trust is going to hurt you.
- It wasn’t about you it was about them, it’s their illness.
- You are not sick, wrong or broken.
- Just because your body may have had a reaction to the abuse doesn’t mean you wanted it to happen.
- You will find love, real love. The kind that doesn’t leave you sick to your stomach.
- You are not alone in this.
- You are special, not because you were abused, but because you are a beautiful human being.
- Even though you may have bad days, where you feel angry or distraught, the morning will always come with another chance to find reasons to smile throughout your day.
Child sexual abuse happens everyday. I wish it didn’t. I wish tragedies like the PENN State debacle were out of the norm, but they aren’t. They simply aren’t. So chances are you know someone, or someone related to someone who was a victim of child sexual abuse. Don’t stand there silent or dumbstruck, reach out and let them know you care about them, one human being to another. Because I can tell you for a fact, even if they are adults, that child, that victimized child, is still inside of them and would benefit from your kind words.