My Voice Has Power

This blog was originally posted on Sept. 24, 2018

Social media allows us to be a lawyer, judge, jury, news outlet, influencer, and more. Behind the screen, we can voice our opinions - whether based on fact or fiction, truth or lies, reality or make-believe. None of us are everywhere at all times. We should not determine a victim's honesty by the timing of an allegation. Not every victim comes forward. For those who do, it's an amazingly painful process. I know, firsthand.

I remember how exhausting it was to repeat the most horrific parts of my life over and over again in front of police, therapists. detectives, lawyers, and more... Although I was a minor reporting to those who would eventually care for and protect me, no matter the audience or purpose, it was painful. Testifying against my birth-parents was the worst because I felt guilty for "telling on them". I remember seeing the law students in the back of the courtroom taking notes on my life as if I were a case study. I felt both broken and ashamed. I felt naked and vulnerable. I felt exposed and ridiculed. It's not as easy as it looks. I still have panic attacks when I pass certain buildings from my childhood... not people, buildings.

I had to go through many years of counseling, and I still seek mental health breaks from time to time.

All throughout elementary school I told police, firemen, and teachers about the abuse that occurred in my home between my parents and towards me. My neighbors knew because they called the police for "noise complaints" because it was a "nuisance". If only someone listened and believed. If only someone cared. I didn't go into foster care until I was a teen in high school.

When victims stir up the courage to speak up for themselves and against their abusers, at the very least, give them the space to speak without judgement and direct them to help - the police, a hospital, a lawyer, a domestic violence advocate, send them this link in their DM: National Domestic Violence Hotline. Stand in the gap for those who may feel temporarily voiceless. Because someone did it for me, I can now advocate for myself and others. Start a cycle of hope - in person and online.

Let us speak. #believesurvivors #stopvictimshaming

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