Sexual abuse, healing, and forgiveness aren’t light topics and clearly make people uncomfortable. But that isn’t a reason for me to not share my personal story, especially since nearly 50% of women have been sexually abused in some manner.
Silence doesn’t heal. When we open up and share our truth from our heart with others, our own healing process begins.
(You know this is true. Think back on a time when you wanted to tell someone close to you the truth about something you’d been secretly holding inside for a while. You were afraid to share, but when you finally did you felt better about it. Right?)
Yes, this stuff is hard to speak of. And, frankly, it has taken courage and bravery to move past the fear inside of me in order to share something I held inside for so long. The fear I am talking about is how people will treat me or what they will think of me after reading some of my yuckiest secrets.
Over the past 5 weeks, as people have read my “Forgiving the Unforgivable” blog series, I’ve received responses that are quite mixed:
❇ Some people want to know who the person is that abused me. I am not going to reveal that to you, but I will tell you this: it was NOT anyone from my family, nor is it my family’s fault in any way, shape, or form.
❇ Some people are asking why I didn’t tell them back then. They may feel guilty or shameful for not knowing. They’re racking their brain wondering why they didn’t see it, or if they could have done something back then to stop it.
❇ Some are feeling protective, angry, and vengeful.
❇ Some are angry I am talking about this. They think I should continue to keep this a secret and just shut up already.
❇ Some people have unfriended me on Facebook or unsubscribed from my newsletter.
❇ Some people are worried that I am going to get angry, sue, blame, and be hateful.
❇ Some people are commending me and sending me personal notes thanking me for my courage and vulnerability.
❇ Some are saying, “I am sorry that happened to you,” and/or, “Wow, Julie, I don’t know what to say.” (Those are perfectly fine things to say.)
❇ Some have let me know they’ve experienced something similar, weren’t able to talk about it, but now feel they can share with someone else, and they are finding freedom in that. They no longer feel alone. (This makes sharing worth it.)
All of these responses are understandable. We all have different experiences, feelings, and emotions that come up when something uncomfortable is talked about. We all deal with things differently. Sometimes, we aren’t sure how to deal with them and it comes out sideways.
Although all of these responses are normal, some of your responses hurt and your silence is deafening.
While that is okay, I want to take a moment to make something crystal clear:
Sharing my story publicly was a carefully considered, intentional act made from a place of LOVE.
Not fear. Or blame. Or wanting revenge.
Ultimately, my message is about:
✳Healing and Forgiveness
Here is what I mean by Personal Responsibility:
When people share personal stories and we react to them, we often think it’s the other person’s fault that we are reacting, but it’s NOT. Our reaction is OUR responsibility, not theirs.
We all have our own experiences, biases, beliefs, feelings, and opinions that drive how we think, behave, and react. So if we are reacting by being outraged, appalled, angered, hurt, upset, frustrated, or any other emotion like that, then that is our personal stuff to work through that we need to heal within ourselves.
Often we react because of something from our past—something we experienced earlier on in our lives and haven’t fully dealt with. We stuffed our pain away, ignored it, pretended it didn’t exist, and kept it secret. And as a result of not dealing with it, it’s rearing its ugly head in a new situation, giving us a new opportunity to deal with it now.
This is true whether you are a survivor, a supporter of a loved one, or someone who wants nothing to do with any of this.
If we’re repeatedly experiencing a lot of negative emotions because of others, then it’s in our best interest to try something new in order to get different results. Our negative emotions are ultimately hurting us, not them.
Here are some ways to deal with your emotions to start the healing process:
- Journal about what is coming up for you
- Go to therapy (especially if the negative emotions arise frequently in you)
- Send the person love from your heart to theirs
- Hire a coach to help you work through your feelings
- Find a support group
- Attend a forgiveness workshop
There are many options to help you process the emotions and feelings you’re experiencing to get to the root of what is going on for you. It takes time to work through the healing. Forgiveness is a process that can be quite messy and painful, but when we do the work we feel freedom on the other side.
One last note:
This #Metoo stuff is a Movement—not a moment.
You may not like it because it’s uncomfortable, but it’s not going away. A societal change is happening. Survivors need support and sexual violence needs to end.
My part in this movement is on the healing and forgiveness side.
And however you react, I will do my darnedest to stand in love as I continue to spread my message.