For many years, I repressed my memory of the abuse. I thought I had remembered it wrong. I kept telling myself he wouldn’t do something like that. But now, at the age of 32, I am coming to terms with the fact that a perpetrator took my innocence 25 years ago. It happened and it hurts. It really hurts.

In the past, I confided in the wrong people who broke my trust and made me feel more ashamed. After talking to my eldest brother, he said, “Sis, that’s the problem. It’s too many secrets. It’s time to share your story.”

In my freshman year of college, I had a social work professor, Mrs. Riddick, whom I adored! Fifteen years later, I reached out to her and thought, “Lord, if it’s meant for me to get help, please let her answer the phone.” She answered the phone and I cried. I cried because I knew I could no longer bear the pain. I cried because the thought of talking to a third party about my struggles as a victim of child abuse and childhood trauma was embarrassing. But a little over a year later, I can breathe. I don’t feel ashamed anymore. Mrs. Riddick would say, “if you’re trying to lift a thousand-pound bar, eventually you will get tired.” She let me know it is not my fault and that I am okay.

How is anyone capable of causing this kind of harm to a child? A child who does not know any better? I hope that other people like me find comfort and can process what happened to them, even if doing so is hard and can sometimes hurt.

Journaling, pottery, cooking, and kickboxing are helpful. Above all, God is a healer. I am at peace and I can breathe. I want to share my story to help others live without anger, fear, anxiety, or tension. There is nothing wrong with wanting to live your happiest life.

—Kristina, Survivor

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