It takes a lot for me to come forward and tell my story. I have been a lot more open and willing to tell people my story in order to pass a bill to extend the statutes of limitations in order for others to come forward.
To be clear, I do not shout it from the rooftops and to every person I pass on the streets. There is a time and a purpose when I talk about it. I want to reach other survivors to let them know they are not alone. Because that was something that really hit me hard as a teenager: I thought that I was the only one. I desperately wanted someone to tell that wouldn't judge me or feed me platitudes. Someone that could relate on a deeper level. I strive to be that for other survivors that reach out to me at events or through reading my book.
The biggest surprise is how much weight I have felt lifted off my shoulders by just sharing my story. The relief I feel is unmatched. In my experience, the more I tried to bury and hide the past, the more shame, guilt, fear, and horror I felt.
- The SHAME is his alone to hold. He shall reap from his actions.
- The GUILT is his alone to live with. What he did to me at day care that day was out of my control. If he continued to do it to other children, that is on him as well. I came forward and told my story to the authorities at three years old. What the professionals did and did not do is something they have to live with.
- The FEAR is his. I am no longer a toddler. I know what he did that day. I want to ensure he never has the opportunity to do that to another child. I am working on healing and getting stronger. I want to make a positive difference by the time my days end.
- The HORROR is his to relive. Every time I share how he stole a little girl's innocence and trust, the grip the memories hold on me loosens. Silence is a perpetrator's strongest weapon. By speaking up, I am shattering the chains of silence and getting stronger. The community deserves to know what he's capable of doing when left alone with a child.
If you are a survivor who wants to share their story, choose a supportive person. Someone you trust who will listen and not pass judgement. Call a hotline, if you have no one to talk to in your daily life that you feel you can trust. The choice is completely yours. In the words of Brene Brown: "We share with people who've earned the right to hear our story".
The biggest takeaway I can offer you is this: How people react to your story has more to do with them than you.