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I was abused as a 6 year old child for the first time and I have no memories of my life before the abuse. I have lived with the consequences of sexual abuse my entire life. The abuse crawled into every single aspect of my life. I built my concept of self around it, I built relationships, and set goals all under the immense shadow that the abuse casted. It felt as if the abuse never ended because my disturbed mind made sure I remembered. My disturbed mind tormented me with nightmares, with uncontrollable flashbacks, and with an immeasurable amount of anger. How could it not? The foundation of who I thought I was and what I thought I wanted to do with my life was intertwined and knotted with what was left of me after he decided to take advantage of me. I say “what was left of me” because that is exactly what it is. He took it all. He took the essence of who I was as if it was his to take. He killed the person I could have been if I didn’t carry this burden. He took the life that I was supposed to live. I ran out of that cabin as a different person. I was no longer the child that came in. My eyes no longer explored the world with that fresh, bright, and innocent spirit that we see in children. I carried the eyes of a refugee. A refugee to a war that never ended, a war that I couldn’t completely escape because it was a war happening within me.

I am 24 years old and now my war has a name and it’s called PTSD. My healing journey has been centered around cutting the roots of the abuse that crawled and made a home out of me. The more functional I am and the healthier coping techniques I learn and apply, the more I win. It’s a constant struggle. Some days I win, and some days the PTSD wins. The times that I have won, I have discovered glimpses of another me. A me that loves life, that is lighter than air. A me that smiles while making breakfast because everything seems so perfect. You have to understand that I have never been me without the burden. I don’t remember the person I was before the abuse so not having the PTSD symptoms is a concept that is completely foreign to me. Have you ever seen an alien? Can you even imagine seeing one? It sounds completely bizarre, right?! That is what I feel the days that I win. And I absolutely love those days, but it’s also bitter-sweet because the more I heal, the more I realize how much he took from me and how much I’ve been missing. But still, no amount of pain can stop me from achieving my real self.

The most important thing that I have shared here is that I discovered the possibility of living life without dragging the abuse everywhere I go and most importantly, that I can cleanse myself from its roots. I discovered that I can live, and not just survive and I owe a huge part of this discovery to SARC. I wouldn’t have made this discovery without the people that I have met here. SARC provides me with the space to talk about the most horrifying experience that I have lived, and still somehow feel safe. It’s a sanctuary for survivors. I am forever grateful.
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