Melanie shares her personal experience as a survivor of child sexual abuse and sexual assault. She discusses how the impact of such violation affects every aspect of a person's life and the healing journey is not linear. She emphasizes that survivors should know that healing will not look the same for everyone, and they are not defined by their story. Melanie also talks about reclaiming the things she lost and finding her voice as the first step in her healing journey. She encourages survivors to know that they are not alone in their journey.
My name is Melanie and I'm a Survivor of child sexual abuse and sexual assault I was sexually abused when I was 9 to 10 years old by my babysitter's teenage sons and again when I was 12 years old I was sexually assaulted by a 17 year old distant relative of my best friend it's been a long journey and um you know the the days following the assault when I was 12 it was really really dark I went through years of self-injury PTSD anxiety reliving what happened over and over again some of the things that he told me during the assault like I'm teaching you how to be in a relationship someday and you're not done yet really stuck with me for a really long time and I kept reliving it over and over again and the impact of this type of violation is something that really goes deep within your soul as a Survivor it impacts every facet of your life of your body um of your way to relate to other people um and so reflecting reflecting back on my journey in the past 18 years um you know it's been really really difficult um you know in many different ways and you know going through what I did when I was 12 um kind of went through a process and what happened when I was younger I didn't disclose until much much later as an adult I actually repressed those memories until much later when I was an adult and so the healing Journey wasn't linear for me and for many survivors I'm sure you can relate the healing journey is not linear and I just want survivors to know that healing is not going to look the same for you as it is for other survivors and although our Journeys can have a lot of similarities that it's okay that yours may look a little different mine did and you know really walking through the years of healing um walking through uh going through the court process walking through coming to terms with memories I hadn't I had not remembered earlier on and really just um you know one of the things that I wish I knew then that I know now is that I am not defined by my story uh that there is so much more to me as a person to me in my life um that that is so much more than my story I'm a Survivor more than my story and so are you some of the things that I lost long ago um you know after the sexual assault when I was 12 I stopped having interest in things I love the most like dance and it was because I didn't want to connect with my body and so as an adult I actually reclaimed that and was able to go back to dance class as an adult and it was so empowering because it was something that I felt like was taken long ago something that I enjoyed and after all these years of healing I finally had this beautiful reconnection with my body and really being able to kind of take back what was stolen and just know that there is healing is not linear so different parts of the journey are going to look different and just knowing that we're not alone on this journey that um you know on the darkest days someone else has been there too and um you know really walking through the court process and walking through finding my voice these things were so important on my journey finding my voice was the first and very important step on my journey to find hope to find healing and to really start the trajectory of my healing journey and for some of us that looks like talking to a group of people sometimes that means a one-on-one conversation but really my healing Journey started when I found my voice and so I just want you to know that um you know we are not defined by our stories and that we are never ever alone