I learned to be strong
My story began fifty-one years ago and continues to this very day. Like every other child who has been abused, my story begins in innocence. It begins with trust. Trust in those who were there to protect me. Trust in those who were there love me. Trust in my mom and dad. In one evening, as a small five-year-old child, that trust and that innocence was taken away for the rest of my life. The abuse did not end after that one incident, that one night. The abuse continued through other incidents and over many more years. Like so many who have suffered through child abuse, I went through most of my life as a child living in a shell. A shell that I created to protect myself from everyone. A shell I created to protect myself from everything. I never let anyone in. I never let anything out. The person people saw and came to know was never the true me. What people saw was a variation of me that I allowed, that I felt safe with. Living in a protective shell becomes a lonely place. That loneliness was my safety. Living in a shell becomes a burden, though. That shell, that protection which I erected, which I created became another form of abuse that I inflicted upon myself. It kept me from trusting. It kept me from loving. It kept me from living. I came to realize that the shell would perpetuate the abuse as long as I chose to hide within it. Breaking through and removing myself from the shame I felt, the embarrassment and the regret was no small task. It took years of struggles. It took years to discover how to trust, how to love and how to view life as someone who had survived instead of someone who had been abused. I learned how to love my self. I learned to be proud of who I had become and what I had overcome. I learned to be strong. I endured thirteen years of physical, emotional and sexual abuse at the hands of my parents. Instead of ending up being crippled by the abuse I suffered, it forged in me a need to help others.
- Michael, Survivor
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