Society reinforces that all the time- every time we hush our voices when speaking of sexual abuse, every time someone says rape is a ‘fate worse than death,’ or we talk about sexual abuse being a ‘life sentence,’ every time we’re made to feel guilty for making others uncomfortable, every time we have to comfort the person we are telling rather than be comforted, it reinforces the toxic lie we are fed that our stories are unspeakable.
Unfortunately, because stories of child abuse are hard to hear, this often happens. I honestly believe that many people use terms like “life sentence” because they, themselves, will never look at someone who was sexually abused as anything other than that again. That’s unfortunate. We are all much more than simple victims, and are capable of so much more than that. Knowing a survivor means knowing their story, as well as all the other things about them that have nothing to do with being a survivor, and seeing them as that whole person.
If someone chooses to tell you their story, keep that in mind. They are still the same person you knew before they told you, and sexual abuse survivors are not forever damaged to be placed out of sight and out of mind. We exist all around you.