The following is an article I wrote that was featured in the Turn Around Newsletter during this month:
A survivor is a person who has not only overcome an obstacle, but a person who has grown from an obstacle. Not only has a survivor overcome the obstacle, but a survivor plans to successfully move forward in life.
Many call themselves survivors simply because they lived through a catastrophe. However, living through a catastrophe does not indicate that the person lived after the catastrophe. A person can physically breathe in air, soak in sunlight and release a dozen smiles, but be deceased on the inside. I considered myself a survivor of sexual abuse the day that I ran away from the environment, my mother’s house. While residing with my dad, I was frequently depressed and only pretending to be a happy teenager. I was dying on the inside for family love, recovery, revenge and deliverance for desiring the revenge against the pedophile. By the time I went to college, my depression evolved into contemplating suicide. Late in my freshman year, I swallowed 119 Motrin IBs. I was not only dying on the inside, but I wanted to die on the outside. Survival should not to be declared by a person who does not desire to live or who does not know how to live.
A survivor not only lives through catastrophe, but moves forward with their goal. A survivor’s purpose is to not only heal themselves, but also to help others survive. Once a survivor has overcome a catastrophe, they then want to ensure that the same issue does not occur in someone else’s life. I lived through three years of sexual abuse. After coming to terms with what happened to me and realizing that my sisters were still in the home, I decided that I was going to make sure they would not be affected in the same way. I began calling home frequently and making sure they understood that I would always be available to them and that they could talk to me about anything. My desire was to form a relationship with my sisters that I could not form with my mother.
My passion to help sexual abuse victims evolved after I married. As a teacher, I encountered many students who confessed being abused to me. I was seen as a person who could be talked to and who could help. I took on pageantry as a means to not only share my survival story, but also to help promote sexual abuse awareness.
My platform, Silent No More! Sexual Abuse Awareness and Recovery, presents a two-pronged approach--educating the public about the realities of sexual abuse and encouraging survivors through the recovery process. I work alongside several organizations, including Turn Around, Inc., the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) and the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault. I also founded an organization, Queendom, assisting teenage girls with etiquette and/or sexual abuse. A large part of my presentation is devoted to dispelling myths about sexual abuse and sharing recovery options such as counseling, hotlines and support groups.
It is not only important to survive a catastrophe, but to survive successfully.