I saw this quote in a local news story about a sexual assault that occurred involving a couple of players from the Oregon State football team 16 years ago. They were spoken by the victim in the case, then-24 year old Brenda Tracy.
Now, I don’t normally get into assault and violence against adults on this site. Not that it doesn’t bother me, but this site is about child abuse survivors and I don’t want to have to start writing about every case of violence that occurs. There’s just not enough time in my life for that, so I try to stay focused. I’m not making an exception here because, as it turns out, Brenda was a victim of child abuse prior to ever being in this situation:
Tracy said she was sexually abused as a minor, up until age 5 by a family member, then again at 9 by a neighbor. She has not talked publicly about the earlier incidents. And while it’s the practice of The Oregonian to not name victims of alleged sexual assault, Tracy insisted she be identified here.
“I’ve spent all this time trying to prove to the world that I belong here,” she said. “That it’s OK to take up space, that I’m not garbage.”
As a young woman she found herself in abusive relationships, a partner to men who were volatile, angry and dangerous. She’d been emotionally and physically abused. She remembers wearing a turtleneck in the summer once to cover bruising on her neck after being choked by a boyfriend. The father of her children was incarcerated, first for drugs, then a Measure 11 sentence for robbery. She was prey, and the predators often found her.
“My self-esteem was gone,” Tracy said. “I didn’t think I was worth anyone really loving me.”
This is how childhood abuse plays out in adulthood for many people, male and female. The abuse becomes an ingrained part of how we see ourselves, believing that it was deserved. As adults, why would we believe we deserve anything else?
If you never get out of seeing yourself as a victim, your adult life may not look much different than hers. If you can get past that though, and start to understand that you are not garbage, that you have value and have a contribution to make, then you can overcome. You can stop being a victim, and become a true survivor.
I linked to this yesterday on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook, but I wanted to also add it to this post. The Psych Central website has listed their Top 10 Depression Blog of 2014. I have to admit that there are a few on there I’ve never read, but I will definitely be checking them out!
Do you have a favorite depression blog not listed there?
Also, I wanted to share a Mashable article I saw as well. Titled 3 Free Games That Can Help You Cope And Understand Depression it goes on to talk about three video games with depression as the central theme. I’ll let the author, Matthew Hughes explain:
The UK’s Office of National Statistics says that one in five British adults suffer from depression. It’s an epidemic of massive proportions, comes with a massive societal impact, with depression costing the European economy almost 118 million Euros in lost worker productivity and expenditure on treatment.
It’s not just a feeling of sadness. It’s not laziness. It’s a complex, confusing mental illness that impacts people in different ways. It can pull you into a spiral of numbness, anxiety, hopelessness and apathy, and make the simplest things like getting out of bed feel like an excruciating effort.
So, where do games come into this? Games – like any other genre of popular culture – can help us understand complex issues. Complex issues like depression and mental health. Don’t believe me? Here are 3 that walk you through what it’s like to suffer from depression, or give you helpful strategies for coping with it.
Now, I’ve never been a big gamer so I’m going to reserve judgement on whether video games can help. I’m willing to admit that anything that helps is a good thing, and if there are folks out there who are helped by playing these games, I’m glad they exist! I don’t think they’d be for me, but that’s just the point, they aren’t for me. Maybe they are for someone else.
Have you played any these games? What do you think?
The latest episode of the Survivor Stories podcast, featuring Ben Glade and Annaka Vimahi, brought home two important things to know about child abuse:
1. How deep does the secrecy surrounding child abuse run? A brother and sister, 4 years apart, have no idea they were both being abused until they were in their thirties.
Think about that. When we talk about child abuse being a secret epidemic, this is a prime example. Abusers groom kids and do everything they can to keep them silent. Survivors grow up and face all kinds of stigma, so they keep silent, and the cycle just continues. The only way out is to keep talking, and let kids being abused, and adult survivors, know that they aren’t alone.
2. Survivors truly are all around us. We just don’t talk about it and therefore we don’t know how many people right in front of us can identify with what we are dealing with. We need more survivors willing to identify themselves and let it be known that they survived, and have overcome, childhood abuse.
Over in the UK, there’s a project due to start this coming Friday, Nov. 7 that bears keeping an eye on:
A Day in the Life is a year-long project to collect the everyday experiences of people who experience mental health difficulties in England. If you experience a mental health difficulty sign up to share with the world what your day was like on four calendar dates across the length of the project.
You don’t have to use your real name and you can be as anonymous as you want to be.
The everyday life of people with mental health difficulties has tended to remain hidden. Together we can change that by sharing what makes life better and what makes life worse. The first day in the life will be Friday 7th November 2014.
The link is here: https://dayinthelifemh.org.uk/
Let’s hope that getting a glimpse into the day to day lives of people in the UK dealing with mental health issues can help end the stigma of depression and other mental health issues.
Tomorrow I get to do something that, according to statistics, is one of the things adult survivors of sexual abuse dread the most. I have to have some dental work done.
I was terrified going to the initial appointment for an exam, I’m terrified of going back to have this work done, and I’m terrified of the number of appointments I will have to have to fully complete the work. Luckily, we found a dentist here in Corvallis who specializes in sedation dentistry, so I will actually be sedated long before I step foot in the office tomorrow, but even with that added bonus, just the thought of being in a dentist chair makes me feel queasy.
The only thing that is getting me through this, and the thing I’m counting on to get me through this whole process is the knowledge that the end result will be worth it. I’m looking forward to getting these things fixed and moving forward.
I think healing from abuse is a similar reality. Some of the steps toward healing can be scary, and many of them won’t be all that pleasant. Facing what happened, and facing the self-destructive behaviors we’ve developed over the years to help deal with it can be pretty terrifying. Healing isn’t always pretty. Sometimes, it can be a lot like taking a drill in the mouth, but we do it because the end result is worth it.
A life beyond “surviving” is out there, and it’s possible, but you have to show up to each appointment to get there. Keep your eyes on the end goal and keep moving forward!
If you haven’t seen it mentioned on other blogs, today, Oct 10, 2014 is “World Mental Health Day”. The fine folks over at Psych Central are throwing a “blog party” to celebrate, getting bloggers to write a post about mental health and linking to it from that page.
One of the things you can see on that page, or looking at Twitter for the #wmhd14 hashtag, it becomes pretty obvious that there are a lot of people writing about mental health today.
I think that’s fantastic, for one very big reason. When I was in the midst of the worst of my depression, the one thing that I remember most clearly is the feeling of being utterly alone. That’s one of the lies depression tells you, that no one will understand, no one knows what it’s like, and no one can help you. Looking around today, I can see just how untruthful that is. There are resources, (Though we need more!!!) there are people who care and, most importantly, there are people who’ve been where you are, and survived.
Today is also a day that I saw an article about the 40,000 people we lose to suicide every year in the US. How many of those people would still be with us if they could have known how many others are out here dealing with the same thing they are, and offering support for one another. So do me a favor, ok? Share what we’re seeing online today with the people you care about. You never know how many of them might need to know.