Dear readers, fellow survivors of (child) sexual abuse and exploitation,
I am not holding back in my writings. Silence is over. My Be-Loud-Survivor-Revolution begins.
It may be hard and/or confusing to read me, especially if you know me, care or have cared for me. If you are a survivor or know a survivor, my writing may be especially distressing.
If you feel distressed, please refer to the resource page and consider seeking help.
To my sisters and fellow survivors….
Perhaps, like me, you have felt or currently feel so trapped and alone.
Perhaps, like me, you haven’t or currently don’t feel anything about these awful moments from your past. Maybe this is because you don’t understand how awful the moments were, or maybe you barely remember them because of the trauma.
Perhaps, like me, you thought or think “I’m fine”, “it wasn’t that bad”.
Perhaps,like me, you have or currently experience an unbearable amount of confusion, anxiety, hurt, anger, shame, guilt and self-hatred.
Perhaps, like me, you have or currently feel like giving up on life because fighting every single day is exhausting and sometimes it seems like there is no end to this suffering.
If you have or are experiencing these emotions and thoughts, please hold on. These thoughts and emotions are not you. They are signs that people did not treat you well, but they do not mean you are wrong in the world. You matter. You are strong. You are brave. You will heal. Healing may be long and painful, but I promise you there is a way through it. There is light.
You are not alone. You are not alone because you have you. You are not alone because you will find people that are willing to help. Ask for help. Don’t give up. Keep fighting. You are worth it. The world loves you. And when you rise again, you can “speak” as loud as me, in your own way.
Speaking your truth as a survivor does not necessarily mean that you have to disclose publicly. If you decide that “speaking out” in public is not right for you, it does not make you less brave or strong. Let no one else dictate what process you should follow to heal and gain your power back. You are a survivor, and that alone is proof of your immense strength.
While I won't pretend to write on other survivors' behalf on this site, if you are a survivor of childhood sexual abuse/exploitation, I want you to know that you are not alone. Please ask for help from those you trust. I promise you there is hope, there is a way to heal, and there is a way to find your power.
If you know survivors,
Respect them, listen to them, empower them, ask them if it is ok to ask a question, and give them space to respond, speak and heal in their own time.
Please, think twice before making comments or giving unsolicited advice to us survivors. Even ones made with the best of intentions can be very damaging for the survivor who is still trying to process and heal. Some examples of what not to say/ask that I have personally experienced are: “why did you not do anything?”, “you could have said no”, “do you really consider yourself as abused?”, “maybe you could try to understand the perspective of your abuser?”, “it’s like a car driver [the abuser], they deserve a second change to pass the test and drive again”. These comments perpetuate victim blaming, as they imply the child had a ‘choice’, should have ‘known better,’ is not telling the ‘truth,’ and that the abuser could have had a ‘reason’ to perpetuate the abuse. We were too young to understand. Some of us, myself included, were too manipulated by their power, and no, we did not have a choice.
Whether you are a survivor, or you are someone who knows a survivor please be mindful that your/their survival and healing journey is unique. Just listen. Be there for yourself and be there for them. Treat yourself and them not as forever-broken, but as forever-getting-stronger, because you are… they are.
I hope that by sharing my process and reflections however, it will encourage…
… you, survivor, to find the strength to keep going on your own journey and find your place and value in our beautiful world, in your own unique and creative way,
…. you, readers, to empower them to help change happen to eradicate child sexual abuse and exploitation in sport.
Welcome to my journey. Thank you for reading me.
Aurélie Pankowiak, a phoenix rising.