I met a young woman yesterday I didn’t know, never met her before, I was a little scared at her disheveled appearance, but she wanted to talk. I reached within and found the courage to listen to what she had to say. She had a story so personal, painful and deep that she seemed unclear of where to begin. It was hard listening, very hard, I had to be non-judgmental and open, instead of just waiting to talk (being a wait to talker) I had to practice listening, reserve my opinions, I had to swallow hard a few times not interjecting, my thoughts and opinions. As I listened for what seemed like hours, I watched her express her pain and her quirkiness as she gave wings to her story I was bubbling on the inside. I managed to get through it, but oh, how her story sounded similar to mine. Different but similar in many ways…

Years of child sexual abuse have left her lost, lonely,  depressed and what seemed to her as hopeless. As I sat and listen to her speaking, I could see and hear the pain that this woman harbored almost all her life. As she told me bits of her story it made me wonder, though some of it was difficult for me to hear because it mirrored my own story, I knew I had to be fully present, this proved more challenging at times than others, as I found myself drifting in thought with various questions, the how’s and the why’s.

Let’s call her Jane for now, she was raped by her brother and his friend at the tender age of seven, upon telling her family, the mother said her brothers used to touch her butt and breast when she was young so she should get over it. Her father told her she must learn to forgive. Her father would tell her she resembled a monkey and no man would ever want or love her because he didn’t…  Oh I was steaming! Again I kept reminding myself  “Larissa this is her story, allow her to speak, be quiet” but it was hard! I was mad! I just wanted to hug her! Naturally I was talking to God at the same time, “I know you’re bringing this to me for a reason and apparently you think I can hear this but, wow!” I listened! I walked away from this young woman with questions for days. How many are there? How many of us were exposed to this?!!! The parents, why?! How could her family be so desensitized to her pain? How could they not understand what happened? This woman is in  dire need of love and support and the very family and relatives made the act so much more painful because, because, why or what?

Jane told me that for years she attempted to numb her pain by self-medicating, but then she chose to stop and sought some needed professional help.  As I listened to her I found myself hurting deeply on her behalf, I agonized over the conflicting sea of emotions she must be feeling. Jane was being forced by her family to show love and affection to an older brother who should have protected her, but instead he assisted in inflicting pain on Jane. I felt hurt for this young woman who lived in hell with parents who refused to see her pain and in so doing was hindering her healing process. I’m constantly being asked to forgive and forget, I can forgive but I cannot forget, the evil deeds that were done to me, I wish I could and I am trying, but it make it harder when asked to “let it go!” Scars are scars, they are reminders, and sometimes if not healed properly they will reopen, and get re-infected. I/we need to heal.

As I listened most times in horror, I pondered the questions, the how’s and why’s. Why is it that some people are able to go through some horrible and heinous thing and survive, while others seem to experience the smallest of test and end up committing suicide? Why was Jane dealt the hand she was? Though she faltered by the way as she searched for herself in unconventional ways, how is she able to breathe, what made her decide to kick the habit and take stock of her life while others surrender?My conversation with her, drew my attention once again to the sickening statics of child sex abuse!! Is this the norm, for most victims to be left to process all these emotions alone? Why are there so many cases where some family members choose to negate, support the abuser/molester rather than assist the tormented soul?

Is it that the families are so mentally screwed that they can’t see the bigger picture? Is it that they believe this will just
automatically go away? I’m confused, but what concerns me even more is, when these broken young victims make it to adolescence and adulthood scared, tormented and tortured decides to finally act, to speak out and reclaim that which was taken, folk’s especially family get so hot and bothered. In my experience  I’m of the impression they
seemingly believe it will melt away, the torment and memory, the years of inner conflict would just magically ‘puff’ and vanish away without the victims taking action.

Well I want to tell the families of victims “sorry no such luck,” that’s so not the case. I now realize that so many victims if not all, regardless of how we choose to cope or handle the abuse we lived, whether it’s hiding behind the name of God, suppressing, medicating or whatever method, it’s always an inch away from the surface of one’s mind, and that’s because it was never dealt with!

Getting to that place of unconditional love and personal freedom (freedom of my mind) it’s my ultimate goal, I aspire and long to be there, but it’s a long and tedious process, because you battle with self and resistance each and every step of the way. Some days I want revenge and retribution, an eye for an eye, you hurt me I hurt you that inner conflict and power struggle. I feel the need for revenge mostly on the days when I have to deal with the betrayal, lack of support from the ones who are supposed to love me unconditionally and the utter disappointment I feel when I am asked to “let it go.”  But then my rational mind takes hold and I know that I may find relief in revenge but it would only be temporary, the feeling would be very short-lived, the feeling is transitory, and it’s very fleeting.

Most are quick to speak of forgiveness not realizing it may just be the hardest thing to get to, because that broken child now becomes a broken adult with all the hurt in tow. It would have been easier to forgive the perpetrator if the child was protected by the adult. However, in most cases similar to ours, the covering up and protecting does more damage than the act itself, the actions taken or the lack thereof makes the situation so much worse for the victim as they are taught that the perpetrators and others are so much more important, their life, their emotions, their feelings doesn’t really matter, so instead of working on forgiveness for one, now you have to forgive a few! It’s easy to preach, not easily attained.

I need you all to understand, it’s all a process, you must go through the anger and the hurt before you get to love and forgiveness. The query in a victim’s head goes as such, “on one hand I want you to hurt as much as you hurt me, and I’m not ready to let them off the hook, on the other…. I’m also wary because…. I’m not hurting him/them,  will that get me anywhere or will it?” You question, when to speak and when not to speak, when to act, when to tolerate, when to fall back/walk away. With warp minds and jaded thinking for as I search for the answers that I seek and others try to understand my doing I realize forgiveness is when you’ve really moved past that hurt and anger that once was. Forgiving doesn’t mean the slate of your memory has been wiped clean of the series of events that occurred in one’s life. You simply refuse to have left over residue or remnants continue to taint. Therefore I recall the injustices, the anguish, the pain thus I can speak openly about it. The query continues, but what I can say is that which I said to Jane. Do what is satisfactory to you, be it to walk away, stand up and out for yourself and others, to bring charges
against, or if you feel at peace in your heart with letting it go, that’s ok too. Whatever and however you arrive at this place as long as it’s done out of self-love, helping others, and not hate/revenge (I won’t endorse or promote hate, as we search for inner peace and freedom, these actions are the opposite and very short-lived) it won’t regenerate that which was taken. I realized however that the only way I was going to free me, was to speak my truth, therefore I choose instead to use my story to propel me into my purpose and my power, not as a crutch.

Break cycles and clean up the patterns. You have work to do! You have to carry your message, even if it’s only for the betterment of you!Fear and shame can hold you hostage. Fear of being judged, shame you feel as your deepest fears are realized, but I’m moving forward with a few following suite, repeating one of my new mantras “Live from your power, not your brokenness” (Iyanla Vanzant). With awareness comes consciousness, which ultimately leads to acceptance and change, join me as I/we journey to free

From my heart to yours