To Those on The Outside Looking In

This past week, I celebrated thanksgiving with a friend and her family. Holidays have been a difficult time for me the past couple of years since my family has relocated to GA. Fortunately, I still have a few relatives here and some great friends whose families have taken me in and loved on me; especially during the holidays!

While celebrating, a conversation arose about a young woman who, like me, had been sexually abused by a relative. The individual has had a tough road to healing and seems to be self-destructing. As the conversation went on, someone stated “I hate when people use the excuse ‘I was abused’ as a reason to act out. I hate that society has given them that excuse – they take advantage of it and think it gives them permission to act out.” Now, I know this person meant no harm – but that insensitive and inaccurate mentality is the very one that sends victims into a whirlwind of emotions. So here is my response to that individual, and the rest of you who are on the outside, looking in; with no real understanding of how much of a toll sexual abuse takes on someone. So let me explain something….Displaced hurt is NOT an excuse!

I was abused as a young child between the ages of 11 and 13. I am now 25. I exposed my abuser in 2008. I was 15. You’d think I’d be over it by now, right? WRONG! Sexual abuse is not something you just “get over”. It is an unwanted part of who you are. It is something you carry. Something you cannot forget. For me, it is something I mourned. I mourned the loss of the innocence I once had, the child in me that was forced to grow up. Unfortunately, when I had the ‘birds and bees’ talk with my parents – it was already too late. I had already had a painful introduction to sex, and all of the ‘beautiful feelings’ it was created for when I finally got married. That privilege of being ‘my first’ has already been snatched from the man I will marry.

My introduction to sex was forceful, painful, sickening and bloody; it was SCARY! It was all of the bad emotions that people expect a victim of sexual abuse to feel. But what about the other feelings that no one considers? What about the fact that even though it was an emotionally murderous experience, my body is now familiar with sex; it has now created an appetite that is difficult to suppress. What about the anger that is now so deeply rooted that hate starts to rule in your heart? What about the addictions you form because you feel that there is no one to talk to and no one truly understands? Who else is carrying your thoughts of self-harm or suicide?

These things are all real – and all things that I have experienced. I have experienced trying to have more sex to rid myself of the painful memories of that grueling introduction. I have tried to drink so much to the point of passing out – hoping I’d wake up and not be able to remember. I have considered self harm and suicide. I have tried to be the God proclaiming super saint who has forgiven the abuser and hopes well for him. But the truth is, none of these things worked. On the inside, I was still upset; angry; hurt.

It was not until a friend told me “I am going to love you until it no longer hurts” that I began to heal. I stopped self-medicating, self-harming and began to allow myself to feel the hurt. I began to acknowledge the hurt. I found positive reinforcement in friends and people who really cared about my healing. I started talking about the hurt. I sang about the hurt. I found love. Not in a man who wanted to play on my vulnerability; but I found love in ME! I fell in love with the process of healing organically. I fell in love with the progress and the removal of pain. I fell in love with my voice; and most importantly, I fell in love with freedom!

I have found love for self while healing from the most painful experience I have endured. My process to healing has been nontraditional and full of excess, self-induced pain that created a domino effect of repercussions, failures and heart-breaks. But it has taught me to endure, it has taught me to love and it has taught me to walk in my freedom. No matter how others think, how others feel or what they say. They may not understand my pain, but they will RESPECT my PROGRESS!

For all of you who are on the “outside looking in”, I urge you to consider what that individual is going through before placing judgement. Do not offer fake sympathy wrapped in pity. Do not make statements like “that’s no excuse”. Do not minimize their hurt by saying “oh I am sorry to hear that”. Instead, offer real love and support. Offer ingenuity. Offer friendship. Offer prayer. Offer silence. Chances are, that is all they need! Who knows, you may just save their life!



-Taylor B.