I've told my story a lot of times. I write a blog to help women post-trauma. I'm vulnerable on my blog which is difficult, but I hear many stories of how my vulnerability is helping others, how it's helping them feel like their stories are valid. It's worth it because of that. I've told my story, but only part of it. Very few people know my whole story.
When I was 16 years old, I was sexually assaulted by one of my best friends. It slipped to someone I trusted; she didn't believe me. She blamed me. The complicated part was that his parents were the pastors of my church. They blamed me too. It was incredibly painful. This is the story many know. The rest is that this assault and sexual and physical harassment my junior year of high school triggered memories of childhood sexual abuse and being violently raped when I was in middle school.
It's been almost four years since all of this. I can say for certain that I am healing. I am in such a beautiful healthy place, but I still have hard days. I developed an eating disorder in middle school and I still struggle with it at times, much less than before, but it still comes back up sometimes. It's difficult to admit that even to myself. What would people think if they knew I've been assaulted more than once? I wish people knew how deeply sexual trauma affects you. Every single aspect of my life is still influenced by those events in big and small ways. I still doubt myself some days. I still feel like no one could possibly understand me some days. I still wish it never happened some days.
However most days, I know my voice is important. I know I am not at fault. I know I am full of courage. I know I am worthy of taking up space. I know I am worthy of being heard. I know I am worthy of being loved. I know my vulnerability is important. I know that what tried to ruin my life and tear me apart has turned me into a beautiful and resilient woman. I get the honor and privilege of helping so many women see their strength and know they are worth being heard and believed. There is nothing more treasured to me than that. If you are reading this and you're finding yourself struggling, know that you are not alone. Your struggle will not be forever. May you know that you are worth loving. You are worth being heard and being believed. It's okay to have hard days or weeks. I do too. Notice something beautiful today. You are brave. It looks beautiful on you.