Regaining my Voice after Sexual and Mental Abuse — I looked in the mirror today just like I always do and realized that for the first time in a long time I didn’t despise or hate the person staring back at me. For the past 5 years my most challenging battle I found myself fighting was the one in learning to love myself again after having been raped by my ex boyfriend. That turning point in my life changed me in so many ways and I wasn’t exactly prepared for the struggles I would go through because of what he did to me nor I was ready to face them, either.
I never imagined the one person that I trusted to protect me and keep me safe, the one I had given my heart to, and the one I believed cared about me and loved me back would be the very one to hurt me the most. Then again you never think something like that will happen to you until it does. I remember that night so clearly in my mind as well as the emotions I felt afterwards, knowing in my mind something wasn’t right. For awhile my mind just wanted to block it all out and pretend it didn’t ever happen. The truth is that it wasn’t just my body he violated that night. He also violated my soul and mind by the things he said to me afterwards. I didn’t just have my innocence stolen from me but I lost my sense of self-worth as my self-confidence was shattered. All I could hear in my head was his voice telling me how I wasn’t beautiful enough, how I wasn’t good enough, how I was an embarrassment to be seen with and how he didn’t like my body because he thought it was disproportional.
Every time I looked in the mirror, those words were what I heard. Instead of loving the reflection I saw, I hated and despised the shattered image that I thought was broken. In the past, growing up in an abusive home followed by being in a marriage where I was a victim of domestic violence, I struggled with self infliction as well as eating disorders due to blaming myself for the actions of those who hurt me. After I was raped, I found myself once again traveling that road as I tried to destroy myself. What made it worse was having my own family not believe me about what happened when I tried to speak out so I remained trapped in my own silence. Feeling I had no one who believed me, I found myself battling with depression, self infliction and eating disorders.
I didn’t want to believe it had happened to me, either. I didn’t want to believe that as someone who had all ready survived so much was now a victim all over again. Staring at my reflection I saw someone I didn’t recognize anymore because I only saw myself in the way that my ex boyfriend had seen me. I knew the only way to stop resenting myself and despising the person staring back at me was to shatter the mental image in my mind of the person he wanted me to believe I was. It was my best friend of 12 years who helped me shatter that mental image when I told him what had happened which took a lot of courage on my part because I didn’t want him to see me any differently or think any less of me. Instead when I opened up to him and exposed that fragile side of me, he was supportive and helped put those pieces back together again by reminding me of the strong person I was and had always been.
However, it wasn’t until I officially broke my silence 3 and a half years after I was raped that I really began to heal more from the scars left behind. I wasn’t the only victim my ex boyfriend had sexually assaulted. Three and a half years later, he sexually assaulted an 8 year old child. In the past I had never reported what he did to me but when I found out that he had hurt an innocent child, I knew I could no longer remain silent. Making the phone call down to the police department in Florida where it had happened was the hardest thing I ever did. After talking to a police officer on the phone and being informed I was still in the statute of limitations, I filed my report. Unfortunately the police officer I spoke to didn’t look into it since it had happened 3 and a half years earlier and lied on the final report, but my ex boyfriend did get sentenced to 35 years in jail for sexually assaulting the other victim. Even though nothing was done to help me, I felt a sense of freedom and empowerment in finally shattering the silence that had been shattering me for so long and finding my voice again.
Today, I am self infliction free and I have learned to love, embrace and accept every part of me, knowing that I’m not the person my ex boyfriend wanted me to believe I was. I have rebuilt my self confidence and regained my self worth, knowing I have a reason to live. Though it was the most traumatic thing I have been through in my life, I took that tragedy and turned it into triumph by starting a campaign called Little Words of Kindness to encourage victims and survivors to write each other positive, encouraging letters to inspire and motivate one another in their journey of healing. Just because I come from a broken past doesn’t mean I’m broken and just because I’m fragile doesn’t mean I’m shattered for what should have destroyed me made me that much stronger. I’m not who I am today because of what those who hurt me put me through but I am who I am today because of who I chose to become despite the pain I suffered. In closing I want to say that yes the road to recovery is not always an easy one; at times it’s going to be tough with all the challenges it brings but know that you are here today and have made it this far all ready because the fight in you has been greater than those challenges you’ve faced. You are brave, courageous, and strong for choosing to fight for you and not give into defeat. Always remember you are worth it and this life you have is worth living! When you look in the mirror, know that on the other side of that mirror is the most beautiful, amazing, extraordinary person you could ever meet and who is worth knowing for that person staring back at you is not shattered or broken but beautifully put together from the strength and courage it’s taken to overcome those battles you’ve had to fight in order to be here today.
Guest blog by:
Jenna Kandyce Linch
Founder of the Little Words of Kindness Campaign
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