This is a guest post from Brittany Petersheim. She works with men and women to help them move past the survival stage after sexual abuse and start living again. I am humbled that she has shared her powerful message here for men and women who have been affected by sexual abuse.
Consider a moment that every fourth woman you come into contact with has experienced some degree of sexual abuse: rape, molestation, incest, assault, abuse. What if you knew that every seventh man you met had been victimized too? Now imagine a world where all of those 100,000+ people a year JUST in the United States chose to stay a victim. How bleak our world would be.
When someone is raped or assaulted, they will inevitably feel so stripped and raw that any thought of a happy future is a fairy tale meant only for the most elite to enjoy. Being a victim of ANY sex related crime will make you, at first, crawl so far into yourself that the darkness becomes a toxic blanket with which you cocoon; if only to feel safe for a nanosecond.
Can you imagine what it must be like to finally emerge from that darkened cocoon? Can you even fathom a future so bright and bold that you speak freely and eloquently, albeit brashly, about the man who fathered you, who raped you, who you finally broke free from?
For you, survivor, there is hope beyond your wildest dreams. There is a future so bright that, one day, after a bit of hard work, you have the life you were always meant to have. Think of THEIR rape (because it is not your crime to carry) as a time you were thrust into the forge; only to be made more solid, more tempered within the flames. There is a process, as with anything, that creates the strong person reading this article. Let me assure you, for I am my own example, that there is a life filled with such happiness and joy, a life filled with love and light…a life where the only bridges burnt are the ones you crossed from Victim to Liver.
You won’t always be a victim
I tell my clients that there are 3 pillars and two rope bridges. Victim to Survivor. Survivor to Liver. It is impossible for a Victim to see what it’s like being a Liver and a Liver can’t wrap their head around how a Survivor chooses to just survive.
Once you cut the ropes and DECIDE that you will no longer be a Victim, things start to change, slowly but dramatically. You will no longer curl up inside of yourself and cocoon yourself in the tattered rags of your used-to-be dignity; the world takes on a slightly different…hue. Things start to become sharper and more vivid. The future almost burns a hole into your retina-searing itself there and making it so that you can no longer see the past that was thrust upon you.
To be a Survivor is, in itself, an incredible feat. It’s a defiance to your rapist that never needs explanation. It’s a decision made with your body, your heart, your soul. Surviving gets you through that day-to-day. It gets you to work on time and pays the bills when they are due. I know the smiles come easier albeit they are tinged with a grief that only we know about. Laughter doesn’t die on your lips quite so quickly anymore and some things you begin to find joy in. Things are clearer still if not a bit fuzzy on the edges. The future is coming in sharper and your voice becoming louder, more confident with each passing day that you conquer yet the same demon who swears it will end you. You find your footing on the cliffs of your depression and you start climbing because you just know, in every cell of your body, that the air and light up top is fresh, clean, and new. And you want that. You start seeing visions of brightly colored fields and the image of that dark cocoon is lost in the shadows of who you USED to be. And then….
Only a Liver can taste the Future
If you look up the definition of a liver in the dictionary, you will be told something along the lines of “organ that filters the toxins from a body; filters the blood and creates the necessary proteins to clot blood” or so WebMD will tell you. Take a moment and think about how the liver filters out the toxins (your past experiences), filters your blood (your life force), and makes the proteins necessary to clot your blood (stop old wounds from seeping). A Liver is EXACTLY the type of person you want to be. Livers see their pasts as blips on the sonar of their lives. Livers have such a clear image of their future that the pillar of Survival and Victimhood are shrouded in a fog. There is a life after your abuse. There is an incredibly magnificent life waiting for you to just come on over and live.
It may be difficult and seem impossible to end your state of survival. I understand that so well. But all the best rewards we receive in this life are because we decide that we are not going to let a moment, a stitch in the fabric of our lives, create a nothingness that we are terrified of filling. This is YOUR LIFE and it is YOURS to do what you want with it! Remember that the next time your cocoon beckons you or the fog clears on the pillar behind you. You burnt that bridge my dear. There’s only one way to go now: forward.
As the CEO and Founder of Clearing the Rain, Brittany has dedicated her life to helping men and women move past the survival stage of past sex-related crimes. She helps her clients rebuild their confidence, empowers them to reach their full potential, and instills in them a deeper connection to their true heart! Make no mistake, she doesn’t sugar-coat things.
Her no bullshit approach is what sets her apart from other mentors. Just like you learn to balance the dark and light inside, she balances the compassion and straight talk to truly lift her tribe and clients to a level they once only dreamed of.