Depression. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Sexual assault. Incest. Panic attacks. Domestic abuse. Rape. Shame. Eating disorders. Anxiety. I identify with every one of those words. Until I wrote a memoir about my childhood sexual abuse, I believed everyone could see those identifiers stamped across my forehead in large, bold print, screaming out my truth. While the one-beat syllable SHAME drummed in my head, the only label others in the room could put their finger on was depression. Mistakenly, I always thought I hid it well. After all, I managed; rather than staying in bed with covers over my head, I found escape and solace in long hours of work, completely unaware I was isolating myself from the outside world, or that others had backed away from me. Although they knew all was not right in my world, no one ever asked if there was more going on. But then, does anyone ever want to talk about the elephant in the room?
Since sharing my story, and then advocating for survivors of abuse by raising awareness about these topics, I’ve found there is a select audience who really want to talk about these issues—usually other survivors. But, here are the facts—something everyone needs to be aware of:
There are over 42 million survivors of sexual abuse in America – 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually molested before they turn 18 years old. 90 per cent of sexual abuse victims will never tell.
With such a high percentage of both male and female adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and the problem being as prevalent today as ever, there is no better time than NOW to reach out to the many groups and resources available, educate ourselves, and add our voices to raise awareness about all forms of abuse. It behooves us all to start having these tough conversations about that elephant in the room.