I came to residential treatment completely broken. In my line of work I tell people everyday “You are going to be okay,” but I held no hope for myself. I love people but coping with my trauma took all my energy so I never had any to give to others. After what I had been through, I couldn’t imagine ever feeling safe. Childhood sexual abuse had taken my mental and physical health. It consumed my thoughts and harmed my marriage. It affected my job, my friendships and my faith. It stole my innocence, my sanity and my self-esteem. Surely it would soon take my life. My first night at there. I cried, missing home. The staff were lovely but the person who gave me peace was my roommate. She was there for a similar reason. She shared with me how empty she felt and the damage sexual abuse had done to her. That was the first time I had ever spoken to another survivor. It was also the first time I didn’t feel like the odd one in the room. After a week, I found myself humming as I road my bike, something I only did when I was truly at peace. Over the next 45 days, I met so many others like me, all in various stages of their healing. Being surrounded with survivors, I felt connected, safe, comfortable being myself. I listened to dozens of trauma stories and, when I was ready, I shared my own. In trauma group I listened, I answered, I cried, I screamed and beat pillows, I painted, I wrote, I cared and was cared for. The more love I received, the more I had to give and in my last days there I found myself looking for ways to support others. For me, this was a miracle. As the grief from trauma passed, my enthusiasm for helping others returned and for the first time in years I had energy to spare. I know what this center has done for me and I know what it can do for other survivors of childhood sexual abuse. RAN matters to me because I know many people miss out on life-saving treatment due to financial need, people who have lost hope. If funded, RAN can give people the opportunity to heal- that’s why I care.
- Author anonymous