She hoped no one would recognize her mask. Her friends were confident; she only wished she was. She did all she could to mask her thoughts about herself. She had been silenced, and when she did use her voice, it wasn’t acknowledged. So, she secured her mask a little tighter.
Catalyst for Healing
Disappointment came from one she trusted and loved deeply. “I felt physical pain. I cried for weeks. I got sick. I got depressed. My mask no longer covered my face,” she explained.
Though she felt exposed and humiliated, it was this heartache, she believes, that became her catalyst for healing. “I just wanted to be me. The whole me,” she said. She began to see the varying fragments of herself begin to heal.
Lotus gave her the tools she needed to mourn and heal. “I knew it was OK to cry. I knew it was OK to feel how I felt. I knew I was not wrong. I knew that I had to express how I felt.” She also realized she had the power to feel differently.
Living Unmasked, Living Free
“I reached out to my offender, and I spoke candidly about my life and how I felt they had impacted me,” she said. She shared her story, and he opened up and shared his own. She learned he too had experienced the same form of trauma he had inflicted on her.
She wanted other survivors of sexual assault to know this: “You don’t have to hurt. It’s OK to believe in yourself. It’s OK to stand up for yourself. It’s OK to forgive the person or people who hurt you.”
“Today, I live. I live in the here and now,” she said. “I feel free because I no longer allow the pain of my secrets to create a faux mask of happiness.” She is Unmasked. She is Free.
Hope & Help
She is a sexual violence survivor, but she also has had to heal and help her children heal through their own experiences. “I have two children who were sexually abused by members of our family. I want parents and caregivers to know that offenses frequently happen by someone in the family or someone they trust and love,” she emphasized.
“In order to care for a child who has been abused, you have to allow yourself to be vulnerable. You will experience discomfort and humility,” she said. But, through the process, she knew she was cultivating her child into a healthier person.
“After the trauma of sexual abuse, trust is a shaky phenomenon,” she said, explaining that not all children respond the same way. She encourages caregivers to be a steady, safe place for children to go. Allow them to express themselves freely to you and give them opportunities to express themselves via other healthy methods too. Lotus works with children and adults to give these opportunities through art therapies, yoga, mindfulness training and more. She explained that the comfort, support and tools Lotus provided helped her family cope and grow.
She is a mother of three, a woman focused on hope and faith. Every day, she works on becoming a “better me,” she said.
“I tell my story because it may give hope to a person who thinks that no one will understand. I share my story because it is not just my story. I tell my story because today I live, mask free.”