Courage: the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain etc.
It is not uncommon for someone to tell me that I have great courage when I speak about my abuse or healing process. I’ve never thought of myself as a courageous person. Recently, hearing the word has caused me to pause and reflect.
When I think of courage, the first people who come to mind are those who are willing to put themselves on the front line to protect our country. There is no doubt that the military, firefighters and police fit the definition of courage.
So how does courage fit into the lives of survivors of abuse? Is it courage that we need to Say it Out Loud? Maybe it is. I am used to speaking out about sexual abuse. It has become a part of my fiber, it is who I am. Today I’m thinking about the millions of abuse victims who live in silence. What would give them the courage to speak out and face their abuse?
I believe that survivors need a reason to expose themselves to the pain and work that comes with the healing journey. It is easy to be fooled into believing that silence is a better, healthier choice. I am not speaking of the countless victims who have turned to drugs, alcohol or other forms of self destruction to cope with their abuse. I am speaking of the seemingly happy, successful individual. On the outside their life appears stable. On the inside they are silently battling the demons of abuse every day. It is like plugging holes in a dam. Things may be fine for awhile but inevitably the scum left from abuse comes seeping out. It may be in the form of anxiety, low self-esteem, depression, sadness, anger, self-hate…Whatever the form, the scars of sexual abuse will reappear unless they are intentionally healed.
There is no easy way to heal the scars of abuse. It takes determination, hard work and yes, courage to Say it Out Loud and take the steps to being healed and whole.
For those who live in silence, cheated of experiencing true happiness and joy how do you gain the courage to break the silence? Not an easy question to answer but I can offer a few thoughts for you to contemplate.
- I used to be that person who was successful on the outside and self-loathing on the inside. I am now someone described as emanating joy. I love my life, my relationships and most importantly, myself.
- You are worth it! You are not the shameful, bad, tarnished person that you see in the mirror because you were sexually abused. There is a beautiful bud deep inside of you just waiting to blossom and thrive. After a relatively short period of hard work that bud can finally be the flower it was always meant to be.
- We are given one life, one moment on this earth. Wouldn’t you rather look back knowing you did what was necessary to rid yourself of the filth enabling you to make that one life the best it could be.
- By breaking your silence of abuse you are helping countless others who still live in shame; children, grandchildren, friends, relatives and strangers. Courage is contagious.
- The only way sexual abuse is going to end is if we speak out against our abusers and let them know they no longer have the power over us. By exposing ourselves we are exposing them.
One of my favorite quotes by Anais Nin says it all for me:
And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
If you are holding your abuse tightly within, if your dam keeps leaking, if you live in silence, I hope this post lends you the courage to consider taking the risk to blossom. You are worth it! Roberta