Meet “Zoe”. Well, that’s her online name… Zoe is a survivor of multiple types of abuse… sexual, physical, psychological and torture. She keeps her true identity concealed as her abusers are still around. Courageously, Zoe is speaking out about being a survivor and tells her story through her blog, “Behind The Mask Of Abuse“. While sharing her personal perspectives, Zoe encourages other abuse survivors to know they are “not alone”.
“My father is a narcissistic/sociopath who mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically and I suspect sexually abused me. My mother is an enabler, who is too scared of him and busy trying to survive his abuse to protect her kids. I’ve recently discovered through therapy that I was also a victim of incest at the hands of my grandfather. I also endured years of torture, molestation and a rape at 11 years old by a neighborhood boy. My family knew about the abuse, but did nothing. These experiences set me up for many more years of abuse and rape at the hands of men I thought loved me.”
I am compelled to share Zoe’s most recent blog which deals with the topic of “shame”, something many survivors of sexual abuse feel and carry with them. Through Zoe’s eyes…
The definition of shame is: ”A painful feeling of humiliation or distress, caused by the awareness of wrong or foolish behavior.” Disgrace and dishonor are the noun forms of the word.
How many of us who are survivors of sexual and emotional abuse feel shame for struggling with mental health issues, or even shame about the abuse we’ve been through? I know I do. Is it really mental health, or is it instead the effects abuse has left us with? How can we not be mentally affected when those who were supposed to take care of us and protect us to the best of their ability, are the very ones that abused and neglected us? I loath that there’s such a stigma attached to mental health issues. Those of us who struggle with them are often shamed. In fact, I don’t like the word mental health. I prefer the term survivor. Our brains were literally damaged, thanks to our abusers. How is that our fault? What do we have to be ashamed of?
When I read the definition of “shame”, I realized even more that we have nothing to be ashamed of. I want to put the shame where it belongs — back on the shoulders of our abusers. We did not ask to be abused, we did not do anything to deserve it, and we don’t have to put up with the negative things people think about what we’ve been through, or how it’s affecting our mental health now. We’ve been through enough.
I am proud to say I have now found my voice, and I’m not going to be ashamed of what I lived through, nor am I going to sweep it under the carpet and pretend that everything is okay when it’s not. While abuse doesn’t define me, it has affected me; therefore it’s a part of who I am.
I live with C-PTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and BDD (Body Dysmorphic Disorder) . I’ve battled depression. I’ve overcome self harm. I will do my best to take what I’ve been through and use it in a good way to help others, but I will no longer be ashamed. I’m a survivor. I’m proud that I survived and didn’t become an abuser. I’m proud of the progress I’ve made in recovery. I have a long way to go, but the progress I’ve made, tells me it can be done, and I will do it.
Do you struggle with shame because of abuse and or mental health issues? If so, it warrants saying again…you have nothing to be ashamed of! You have everything to be proud of because you survived. Let’s lay down the torch of our abusers and walk with our heads held high.
There is hope!
Thank you, Zoe, for giving a voice to a topic that is often too difficult for many people to discuss or share. I admire your strength, courage and conviction — thanks for showing other survivors the light at the end of the tunnel.
More About Zoe
Zoe is a survivor and continues her journey of healing. She has been married to the love of her life for 10 years now and shares her stories of survival and hope via her blog, “Behind The Mask Of Abuse“. You can also follow her on Twitter: @Buckwheat39.
Working to improve the world one child at a time, Ginger has made it her life mission to raise awareness of the world-wide epidemic of child abuse. An impassioned child advocate, trainer, speaker and child forensic interviewer, Ginger can be contacted via her website “Ginger Kadlec: 4UrKids™” at www.gingerkadlec.com.