Survivor, Thriver, Transcender
In 1983 I was taken from my front yard by a stranger. He asked me if I liked candy, and at the sweet young age of 3, of course I liked candy. So I got into the car with him and off we went. He took me to a remote area of the mountains, found an abandoned outhouse and after sexually and physically assaulting me, he put me down a 15 foot hole into the pit of an outhouse toilet. He left me for dead and walked away. Nearly 4 days later, bird watchers were using the restroom and heard me crying. After looking down, they asked what I was doing there, and I told them that I lived there. A short while later I was reunited with my family, but our pain was far from over.
My abuse impacted everything it’d come in contact with. My immediate family, my cousins, my aunts, uncles, grandparents, our extended family, our neighbors, our community, our state, our country and our culture. I sit here 36 years later, continuing to experience the impacts of this events. With broken hearts in all directions no one knows where to go and which way is up. I am faced regularly with the request to “let it go, get over it, keep your business private, you were too young to remember.” These comments are just continuations of ongoing fear and effects of the abuse. I understand the desire for people to “let it go” “move on” or “just get over it”, believe you me- if I could “just move on” I would gladly do so. If I wasn’t triggered at the idea of rejection, abandonment, not mattering, feeling unworthy, I would be ELATED. If I didn’t see thousands of adults each year who’ve been “getting over it, and moving on” and whom are all still silently suffering on their own, alone, fearful, ashamed, scared, angry, sad, depressed, ill, cancer ridden, obese, diabetic, and so on that list goes. I CHOOSE not to be one of those. I CHOOSE to use my soft and loving voice to be the CHANGE I wish to SEE in the world.
My daughter was abused when she too was 3 years old, under my very own roof in MY home, by someone we knew and loved. My first response was not one of anger, it was one of sadness that the person who did this didn’t have someone like me in their life to look out for, guide and protect them. That they would be alone in it. I knew in my heart that my daughter was going to be OK, because she had ME. I knew that I would fight and speak out and speak up and do all the things necessary to end this cycle to stop hurt people from hurting others and to be a voice for change. So that she, when she is 39 years old, can say she is thriving, transcending, and not suffering from her abuse because she wasn’t silenced, shamed and told to “get over it”.
Because I will never minimize or exacerbate the experience, I will do neither. I will just get her the help she needs as each phase of her life carries on, I will be the voice of her mother telling her she matters, telling her she is safe and OK and worthy. I will stand up for her when needed. I will watch her fall when she has to, and I will be there if she EVER needs me to pick her up, hold her, hug her and tell her that I love her. Because THAT is what we have to do for each other, all day, every day, for years and years and forever. This story will end, when abuse and neglect is seen as a social, legal, physical health, mental health and public health problem that we can all talk about openly, support one another in their healing and enhance the field to knowing more, sharing more, and doing more to prevent child abuse and neglect.
Now… WHO’S WITH ME!?!????
What advice would you offer those who are still struggling?
Surround yourself with people who are good, kind, honest and sincere, who don’t judge you but hold you, who encourage you, believe you, love you and allow you to speak. Who join you when you need joining even if it’s not their fight to fight. Who love you because of YOU, and get support and help. You will need it, always, we ALL do. You are WORTH it, you are WORTHY, you are a STRONG VOICE.
- Lori Poland, Survivor, Executive Director EndCAN
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