So for the first time ever, we are thrilled to send out a blog post from a guest! This wonderful person has survived a life of sexual and domestic violence and is now in a position to help others. After many years of healing, she is ready to start to tell her story. We hope that it resonates with some of you and that you are able to see how there can be a light at the end of the dark tunnel.
28 years ago, I knew a 17-year-old; she had already experienced sexual assault, emotional abuse and physical violence at the hands of boys and men. If you asked her if she was a victim of gender based violence, she most definitely would have said no. In fact, she would say that she was most probably to blame.
Not long after that she met a man who would end up changing her life, so much so, that by the time she was 40 years old, she would not even know who she was anymore. I remember speaking to that 40-year-old lady at the time. I said to her “if things don’t change, they will stay the same”; and I went on to ask her, “do you want to live like this for another 20 years, or even worse, die?”
She was isolated, unable to drive, on heavy medication and so traumatized that she would often disconnect from the world around her. She was afraid. She did not know what the future held if she left; only what she was destined to become if she stayed.
It’s been several years since she made that decision, to take the steps to change her life with the help of others and community agencies. She will tell you that it was one of the hardest things she has ever done but it was also one of the best things she had ever done. She lost many friends and people she loved. But she also found her best friend; she found herself.
Today she works as a peer supporter, a crisis responder and an advocate for others just like herself. She is proud of how far she has come and how she was able to turn what was meant for bad into good.
I recently asked her if she felt she was a victim of gender based violence. Her answer was “YES! But I am one of the lucky ones, I SURVIVED.”
To all you survivors out there, wherever you may be in your journey. We wish you strength and courage to let go of the ones that are hurting you and start loving your own best friend – yourself.