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This Thanksgiving, I’m Thankful for My Healing Journey After Sexual Assault

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Editor's Note

If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

I’ve never spoken publicly about this. But as a therapist today, and as a woman who knows far too many individuals who have lived through this, I want you to know you are not alone.

In January 2018, I was walking home from my car after an afternoon shift at work in Los Angeles when I was attacked and sexually assaulted by a man who lived in the same location as I did. There were witnesses, friends of his, people who lived in the same building as I did.

None of them came to my aid.

I have never felt shame, humiliation and dread like I did that night. I could never describe what pure terror feels like, waking up to yourself screaming in the middle of the night, reliving the horror again and again; hearing yourself screaming and watching yourself fighting as if what you experienced was a horrible movie you watched; and yet, it was real.

Sexual assault is one of the most brutal and violent forms of attack against any human being. Sadly, even in today’s world, victims of these crimes are often questioned, not understood and silenced. This type of crime in and of itself silences you, and oftentimes the responses you are met with after this completely shut you down. Pain brings up pain for people. So most often, survivors are met with reactions of anger, denial and blame. It’s a mechanism people use, not to purposefully hurt the individual coming forward, but as a means to protect themselves from accepting a very painful reality.

However, as a survivor it leaves you lonely; bathed in shame that was never yours to carry in the first place. Many stay quiet and remain quiet. If you are one of those, my heart is with you.

I did for some time. And then one, day, I decided to take my voice back. I started speaking up. And in doing so, I have found healing and strength within me that I never knew possible.

Throughout this process, I found, day after day, sitting in the dark in my home, completely overwhelmed in fear and distress as I went through the legal system speaking to lawyers, detectives and police officers. This can be an extremely overwhelming process, one I had not envisioned.

I was grateful, however, that my case was taken into the hands of a prosecutor. Sadly, this is not common with these cases. Very few cases ever reach the hands of a prosecutor. For myself, family members, friends and clients I would see every day facing similar stories, I fought. As I heard their stories, I thought of each face in my own journey. These are collective crimes. Girls, women, boys and men are all affected.

Those moments would test me like never before. I was faced with all of my fears, every single one. Reliving everything and facing the truth of everything, I was stripped of everything, once again. In feeling like I had lost absolutely everything, myself included, ultimately I found myself once more.

For this growth, I am truly grateful. The experience will never be a happy one for me, but the growth and the lessons and all the gifts I have received in healing are some I cannot put into words.

I know that life’s most challenging trials can provide us some of the most incredible gifts if we have the courage to never, ever give up on ourselves, always find a way to get help and support and allow ourselves to receive the gifts that come with healing with open arms.

For everything I’ve lived through in my life, for the pain and growth, the loss and the survival, healing and strength, I am grateful. I am proud of the woman I am today. I thank God for being beside me, the individuals who have stood by me — you know who you are — and above all, for the incredible mother I had who I hold in my heart with all the love I could ever carry within me.


Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Originally published: November 26, 2020
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