Saturday, February 06, 2010

You Are Not Alone, Belle's Story (Blog-a-thon Post 9)

Dear Survivor,

Belle wants you to know you are not alone. Here's what she has to say:

When Mackenzie Phillips took the courageous step to talk publicly about her abuse, I was awakened. For me, the timing of this announcement was lifesaving. I am a survivor of childhood abuse. I was molested at an early age, first by a close family member, then by a neighbor. There was a lot of emotional confusion. I was angry and unable to process what happened over time.

As I got older, I turned to drugs and alcohol to hide my pain. I also hid my own memories from myself until one day 2 years ago. It may be hard to believe, but it is so true, and sadly very common. Also, when children are abused, they often have deficits in areas such as knowing when a situation is unsafe. My judgement was clouded by the abuse. I was raped in college. I became a vulnerable adult, unable to trust or read others, afraid of certain touches, avoiding triggers without even knowing what they were or why I avoided them.

After a (supposedly devastating) career layoff in 2004, I went back to college as an adult to earn a teaching certificate. I was very excited to teach, and chose very specific students. I work with students identified as having a disability EBD which stands for emotional and behavioral disorders. I told myself that this was my choice because I like the at-risk kids, more challenging, and you get to work one-on-one and in small groups. During my first official week as a teacher, I was talking with a student 1:1. The student shared a story of abuse that jolted me into the reality. I started to have vivid and very real images reflecting my own trauma. It was hell. I tried to stop it with excessive amounts of anything I could find (ignoring, smoking, pills, alcohol), but nothing was stopping the truth. I lost my job, partly due to my inability to control my emotions. The stress caused such emotional and physical pain that it became unbearable. I was in a very bad place, and felt so alone. I considered ways to end this life, despite having a family who needs me.

I had no choice. It was either get help or die. I decided to go back to the therapist that I had tried years before (but never gave it a chance). Then, Mack came out in the fall, and I was so thrilled to have a celebrity taking that step, so I wanted to support her. How lucky was I that Megan had started this Facebook group? I had just joined Facebook weeks earlier.

We need to speak out against childhood abuse. We need to protect the kids who can not protect themselves. We need to change laws to help prevent future trauma. We need to be loud enough for general society to change! I speak out about my story because it helps me heal, and because in telling my story, I hope to help someone else the way that Megan, Mack, and my support system helped me! Life began for me the day I decided to begin healing, and now I feel happy and alive for the first time. I hope someone can benefit from the messages we send as survivors of incest and childhood abuse.

Stay tuned for more stories of how the Angela Shelton Foundation is helping others through the ripple effect...

Watch the live UStream broadcast of this blog-a-thon by clicking here.

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