You Are Not Alone
You Are Not Alone
The tides are shifting. No longer is it taboo to talk about being a victim of sexual violence. It seems like every time one turns on the television, opens up the internet, or listens to the radio, there’s another story about someone experiencing sexual abuse. From students at major colleges to celebrity icons to the children in our schools, men, women, and children are speaking out in force about the victimization they’ve experienced.
There was a time, not too long ago, where sexual abuse was considered the “exception.” Medical and mental health professionals even viewed this as an anomaly. We now know this to be as far from the truth as possible. Statistics show that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 7 boys will experience some form of sexual abuse before the age of 18. And the unfortunate news is that these statistics are probably even higher due to the number of people who don’t report abuse and assault because of fear, shame, threats, and a host of other challenging emotions.
Feeling alone, isolated, and shameful for experiences of abuse often keep people from opening up and sharing their story. This keeps people from getting the help they need to heal from abuse. Knowing you are not alone. Knowing others have experienced what you went through. Having that connection with someone you look up to. All these things can help someone develop the courage to share their own story.
Here’s the short list of some major public figures who have disclosed sexual abuse in childhood or sexual assault in adulthood:
Oprah Winfrey Fiona Apple Lady Gaga Queen Latifah
Shia LaBeouf Mike Tyson Gabrielle Union Billy Holiday
Teri Hatcher Sid Vicious Ashley Judd Scott Weiland
Tyler Perry Tori Amos Mackenzie Phillips Madonna
You’ll see the list includes people of varying age and race. There are accomplished actors, musicians, and athletes, reinforcing once again that sexual violence can touch anyone, anytime, anywhere.
The problem with the silence that can surround sexual violence is that it prevents people from being able to receive the treatment they need to heal from abuse. We know that early intervention is a large predictor in someone being able to heal and overcome negative effects of abuse. We are working to create a community free of sexual violence and all of the negative effects associated with these crimes. We accomplish this through community outreach, prevention education, and providing specialized therapy services. We are working to create a culture where this type of behavior is not accepted. A culture where people can get the help they need without the shame and stigma that can overshadow crimes involving sexual violence. Stand by me, PASAC’s marketing campaign that was launched in 2014, is one example of how we are working to give people their voice back. Anyone can imagine themselves or a loved one in that chair. What would you want someone to know? What is your stand by me story? Let’s continue to create a cultural shift. Let’s continue to give people their voice back. Let’s continue to give people the opportunity to live a happy, healthy, whole life. Let’s make sure people know they are not what happened to them. Share your story. Everyone has one. Stand by me because…..
-Kelli Morrow, MS, LPP, LPCC