Everything You Want is On the Other Side of Fear

I grew up in Western NY with my family members of two brothers and one sister. We were homeschooled by my mom while my dad worked outside of the home and provided for the family.

My mom had a younger brother that was always in and out of trouble that started staying with us from time to time. Over a period of about four years, from the age of about 9 to just before my 13th birthday, I was sexually abused and raped by my mother’s brother.

When I finally told what happened, thankfully I was believed. He went to prison for a few years. I struggled here and there, but to be completely honest, I didn’t quite understand the gravity of the situation of what had happened. I went on a mission trip to India when I was 15 for three weeks and it was there that I acknowledged that something had happened to me. Not much changed during my teen years.

My life has always revolved around horses, they have always been my passion. I was never allowed any boyfriends. I did, however, get a job on a local dairy farm where I milked cows and fed calves for nearly four years. I was also subjected to verbal and physical sexual harassment, but I continued to work there because I loved the job, I was out of the house, and I was told I was the best milker there. So I toughed it out and never said a word.

When I was 17, I dropped out of high school and moved out to get a job as a farm manager on a high-end horse farm. Shortly after, I ended up pregnant, (intentionally!) and my fiancé and I welcomed our first daughter in the spring of 2010, with our son and marriage to follow in the fall of 2011, followed by the birth of our second daughter in January 2015.

And that’s when I crashed.

Just a couple weeks before the birth of our daughter the bombshell dropped. My mom came over one December evening, unannounced, to talk. I knew something was wrong. And something was very wrong. More than ten years later, her brother did it again. The girl was only 10 years old. My husband went to all of the court proceedings that summer. All he got was a slap on the wrist, just under 5 years for 2 counts of rape.

Since then, I have allowed my life to be a mess. Everything I was able to stuff down as a child had surfaced because of what happened to that girl. I know it’s not my burden to bear, but I carry the responsibility of what happened to her.

Because of what happened, our marriage was on the rocks. I completely shut down, in survival mode. There was so much hurt and bitterness between the two of us. We went to a retreat called Love Worth Fighting For a couple years ago and it was there I decided that my marriage was worth fighting for. A few months prior, my husband had told me about a women’s retreat in Utah for sexually abused women that he thought I should go to, but I was dead set against it. But something that night changed, and I decided that my marriage was with fighting for. So, a little over a year ago, I went to Utah to The Haven Retreat. It was there that I found my voice. I came home and put myself into the counseling that I so desperately needed.

And things are getting better. They aren’t perfect, but better. I am so blessed to have a husband who truly cares and tries so hard to understand what it is like for a survivor. I have learned throughout this crazy journey of mine that God allows things to happen for a reason. No matter how horrible they are. I may not always like it, but I can either accept it, or fight it, and fighting sure wasn’t working for me.

I am now proud of who I am, and proud to speak out and use my voice. I feel that what I went through as a child gives me an understanding to those who hurt deep inside. And I want to use my voice to help heal them. I am proud of my work with horses and our training business, but not only that, we are also working with veterans and wild horses, mustangs to be exact, and they are healing each other. I can see myself in them and I can see so clearly at times why God allowed some of the things in my life to happen, so that I can have empathy, compassion, and clear understanding on the emotions and feelings that these veterans and horses have.

Becoming a victim is not a choice. Becoming a survivor, and even thriving, is. Everything you want is on the other side of fear. Our job is not to deny our story, but to defy the ending and to rise strong, recognize our story and to seek the truth until we get to a place where we think that yes, this did happen. Healing is a process and growth is a lifetime thing. This is my truth. And I will choose how my story will end. I am not what happened to me, I am a warrior! I am a victorious woman and soar higher than ever before! I will journey on and never, ever give up.

Words cannot express how grateful I am for The Younique Foundation and the entire army it takes to fight this fight. You gave me my voice, and I will forever continue to rise by lifting others up, and I will never be silenced again! Thank you!

-Emma, Survivor