(Photo of me in young adulthood)
Over the years, a few people—who were brave enough to question my motives—asked me why I came forward about my sexual past. They ask, “why not just move past it and enjoy your new life. Why harp on the past—something you cannot change?”
I cannot change anything about my past. Indeed, I cannot change anything I’ve said about my past—and besides, it’s all out there now. I originally started talking about it because I had felt so much shame and loneliness, all hidden away inside me—it festered away until it almost killed me. Writing about all this shame from my past was freeing; it was empowering.
After I turned my life around, I decided to start writing about my past. What had begun as a journal, became a blog—and from that blog, I one day intend to write a book about my own experiences of childhood sexual abuse, how that led me into the sex industry, which brought me to an entire new low of self-destructive tendencies, until I nearly succeeded in ending my life. Speaking about it took away the shame and embarrassment I’d held in for so many years. Moreover, it brought me to fellow survivors, and to this day, we count on each other for support. You never recover from abuse; you are always in recovery (I have learned the hard way). Because when you suffer multiple traumas, they will come back to haunt you: as my therapist says, it’s like a cloud. You want to keep it small and behind you; but there will always be triggers. Then the cloud will loom large and ahead. Talking about the unspeakable makes it less terrifying, which is another reason I speak. I know I’m not alone.
I speak because so few do. I know so many successful, talented, and even famous people that have dark and secretive pasts. It’s not for me to judge anyone but if we don’t talk about this childhood sexual abuse, how it can lead to working in the sex industry, and further destruction, then how can we all discuss it as a society? It affects all of us.
I speak because we need to understand that there are always signs of childhood sexual abuse—and other kinds. If you see it happening—or even think it may be occurring, it is your moral obligation to protect that child, whether you know her/him or not.
I speak because it is important for parents who foster or adopt children of abuse to understand how their new child’s experience is likely to be vastly different from any others.
I speak for all the adult children who are unable to speak; their experiences have left them with verbal paralysis.
I speak for the teachers, who need specialized understanding in helping a child overcome such reprehensible acts that represent the worst in humanity, not the best.
I speak because it is possible to change your life around and make it one that you are proud of, that you can come from the depths of despair—you can crawl out of that abyss and be successful. I’m here to tell you it’s possible, because if my sorry ass can do it, then anyone can.
That is why I speak. So that others, who haven’t had to go through what I did, can learn through me. Moreover, if it can save one child, then outing myself as a survivor of child abuse, a former sex industry worker, and a heroin addict, will be worth it.
4 thoughts on “Why I Speak About My Unspeakable Sexual Past”
Melinda, this is such a powerful blog post.
Thank you for your honest and humane writing. Thank you, too, for your advocacy.
Thanks so much, Andy–your comment means a great deal to me, as does your reading and supporting my blog. You’re a great friend (and outstanding poet–folks, look for Andy’s amazing poetry; he’s won several awards!). xo, M.
Excellent post Melinda. I was beginning to wonder if you’d gone on a very long holiday. I do find speaking about a hard or raw past, can make one feel many expressions of those experiences, both bad and those which leave invisible scars. The trick to moving forward, by leaps and bounds, is, when one forgives, or lets go of the past. There is a delicate balance between we give power over our lives to, and deciding to take back that power. We are who we are and unconditional love is what we all seek. Many hugs …
What a wonderful response, Theresa–and I’m so sorry for the delay. I’ve been working very hard trying to help our country get back to normal. Unconditional love is truly what it’s all about. xo, M.