According to the CDC 1 in 68 children (or 1 in 45 according to Autism Speaks) are diagnosed with Autism. It is a devastating diagnosis for the child and their family. A diagnosis that is life changing, creating life long struggles.
April is Autism Awareness Month. Autism speaks has done amazing work to raise awareness and funds to help those effected, find the cause, and ways to eradicate it.
According to some headlines on the Autism Speaks site, much of New York will light up in blue during the month in support. Red Bull Arena, Macy’s and Bloomingdales, and even the NYC sanitation trucks will aid in bringing awareness to this issue.
In a show of solidarity, the Great Buddha of Hyogo in Kobe, Japan, Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and maybe most amazingly, one of the 7 wonders of the world, Petra in Jordan will turn blue to honor Autism Awareness Day on April 2nd.
Remember those numbers I shared at the top; 1 in 68 (or 45) children diagnosed with autism?
What if there was something devastating our children at a rate 11 to 17 times higher than autism?
Something that creates long term, life long, significant mental health and medical issues. Issues like depression, anxiety, addiction, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Or medical issues like heart disease, fibromyalgia*, GI disorders*, and early death. (Ace Study by CDC & Kaiser Permanente)
What if this something was preventable? What if this was something we had some level of control over, unlike a medical condition?
If this was happening, surely we would all be on board to do what we could to help these children and stop the ongoing suffering. Wouldn’t we?
For children all over the world this something is all to real.
According to the Ace study mentioned above, 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys experienced sexual abuse. (Numbers can very in studies due to the perceived definition of what sexual abuse is and a Survivor’s willingness to acknowledge abuse.)
There’s a good chance you were completely unaware the numbers were so high. Most people are.
You are probably also unaware April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Again, you are not alone.
As a Survivor, Social Worker, psychotherapist, and advocate I could get on my soapbox about why this is and why nobody is talking about it. But, that’s not what this post is about.
This post is about putting an end to the shame and stigma of being a Survivor of childhood sexual abuse. It’s about coming out of the shadows and speaking our truth.
In order for this to happen, as a society we need to stop blaming the victim. As a culture we need to stop depicting Survivors as unbalanced, suicidal, homicidal, and damaged beyond repair in various aspects of media.
We need to stand with Survivors in this movement by sharing these messages and honoring the reality of the experiences of millions of Survivors.
As Survivors we need to be willing to speak our truth. We need to stop minimizing, rationalizing, or denying our own experiences. We need to put the responsibility and shame where it belongs. With the person who chose to violate and betray you.
THE SHAME IS NOT OURS!
With 1 in 3 or 1 in 5 of us experiencing abuse, we all know someone who was abused. A friend, coworker, boss, the stranger sitting next to you, or the person you admire.
It’s time to stop hiding. Only through speaking our truth do we lessen the grip of shame. And in doing so, give others the courage and inspiration to do the same.
In the spirit of speaking our truth…
I am a Survivor of sexual abuse and assault. 3 perpetrators over a 10 year period. I struggled with most of the same issues throughout my life as other Survivors. I have healed the shame and reclaimed the life I was meant to live. I am a wife, mother, friend, mentor, and entrepreneur.
I will continue to work towards this movement of releasing the shame and stigma of experiencing sexual abuse. Will you join me? Are you brave enough to stand up to the societal norms that say it’s not something we should talk about? Are you courageous enough to speak for those who are not ready?
If so, please consider sharing this post and joining me in this endeavor to make sure we all know April is more than Autism Awareness Month.
In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I will be sharing Survivor stories as part of a special Interview Series Podcast. It’s not Christ the Redeemer or Buddha in teal (the color for SAAM) but it’s my part in making sure Survivors have a voice. You can find it here.
Are you ready to speak your truth? I would love to hear from you. Did anything surprise you? Did you find yourself wanting to click off the page once you realized what this post was about?
*All of the issues and conditions above have been shown to be related to experiencing childhood sexual abuse. The Ace Study is the largest of it’s kind regarding the impact of childhood trauma. While the study is on Adverse Childhood Experiences, there are aspects focused specifically on sexual abuse. There are no completed studies showing a direct correlation between sexual abuse and fibromyalgia or GI disorders. This statement is based on my anecdotal professional experience as a Clinical Psychotherapist.