Sharing one’s entire life story is no easy task; not for me, not for anyone. I grew up in the ’70s, before the age of information, cell phones, social media, and the internet when the deeply personal subject of abuse was rarely mentioned. So, for decades, I felt like this was my secret. My pain. My shame. As I grew older and the free sharing of information became the norm, I realized that I was not alone in this category. So many others had similar secrets and stories, but the endings to those stories were often tragic, even horrific, and at times included self-medication, addiction, and suicide.

When I learned that in the United States alone, there is a report of sexual assault every 73 seconds, and every 9 minutes, that victim is a child, it unveiled just how vast the survivor community was, and I felt compelled to tell my story. It wasn’t so much a “want,” but a “need” to try and help other individuals like myself and let them know that they are not alone, that they are not less of a person, that they do deserve a life that is free from these burdens and tragedies.

If my words or story can show someone in crisis or need that there is light at the end of the tunnel, they can get past this, then sharing my story was something that I owed to myself, and unfortunately, too many others like me. Maybe together, we can make a difference.