My story begins when I was 8 years old. My stepfather, who once seemed like a caring, amazing man turned into a monster. He became emotionally, physically, and sexually abusive. It lasted until I was 14 years old. I was so young and didn’t understand it, but I was too scared to speak up due to the threats I received.

What pushed me to tell someone was the birth of my baby brother. He was so young and innocent to the world and I didn’t want to see him raised in such an environment. I eventually spoke to CPS about the situation and they helped to resolve the situation.

I am now 27 years old and in a very good place. I have chosen to forgive my abuser, as hard as it was, but I forgave him for me. I gave myself the okay to move on and to live life to the fullest without carrying around the shame and hurt. That was, by far, the best decision I’ve ever made and I encourage all survivors to do the same no matter how tough it may be. It truly sets you free!

-Emily, Survivor

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