August 9, 2015

When a History of Sexual Abuse is Revealed.


The dynamics of sexual victimization are convoluted and unpredictable, and the discussion of it is still taboo in our society.

For some, victimization is a daily occurrence, ranging from cat-calls to verbal, physical or emotional harassment.

For others—probably more than we realise—their experience may stem from specific or repeated traumatic incidents.

All of these experiences can and often do define how one relates to their world. The reconciliation of these events with worldly existence is an arduous journey and is frequently met with suspicion.

This cycle must change.

I have witnessed several loved ones endure this personal history and I marvel at their strength.

The repercussions have manifested themselves in numerous ways. Some have flourished despite this history while others have struggled with depression, sex addiction, substance abuse, rage, eating disorders… the list goes on.

In many circumstances, childhood victims suffer long-term consequences of sexual abuse, while others are able to move past these incidents.

Positive individual and family support are crucial to both recovery and removing shame from the victim.

As part of a support system for survivors of sexual abuse, I recognize that the consequences of those experiences manifest in myriad ways. These consequences do not just affect the victims, but also their family, friends and community.

We must recognize that most of us are part of support networks for victims of abuse. While this reality is unfortunate, it highlights why we need to connect on a more genuine level.

We are all human, and humans are messy.

Each one of us carries our own story that defines our nature and how we relate to a family, friend or community legacy of abuse. Falling into the cycle of blame, judgment or intolerance drives isolation and neglect.

Compassion and empathy drive human interconnection. Harnessing both compassion and empathy, whether through meditation or another contemplative practice, allows us to be vulnerable and open with ourselves and our loved ones in a way that honors the pain we share as a result of a terrible crime.

Most importantly, these capacities cultivate trust and security.

Unfortunately, childhood sexual assault and victimization isn’t going anywhere.

As a community, we could afford to progress beyond blame, isolation, and doubt when survivors reveal their history.

It takes incredible courage to reveal this history, just as it shows great humanity to receive and respond to (and not react to) the revelation of abuse.


Author: Summer Martin

Apprentice Editor: Sarah Kolkka/Editor: Toby Israel

Photo: GhazalehGhazanfari/Flickr

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