Speak Out! The courage to heal from child sexual abuse

Date: January 1, 1970
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I am a 33-year-old survivor of child sexual abuse and rape. I never thought that I would be able to face the world again after the experiences I?ve had to deal with in my life. Since the age 5-8, I have been in the dark spaces of child sexual abuse committed by a paternal uncle.

In sharing my story today, through the power of this pen, it does not hurt me as much as it once did, because I have made peace with myself, my past and the ones who trespassed against me. Therefore, I do not regard myself as a victim, but as a survivor.
Since I became educated and knowledgeable about my rights, this knowledge facilitated a process of self-empowerment where I became able to assert and claim my rights.
Currently I am a Human Rights and Gender Activist. In writing my story, I have tried to remind myself that I am a human being too, capable of feelings of bitterness, hatred and fear, but also of love, of compassion, humility and of forgiveness.
The writing of my story is still part of the healing process and I hope not only that, but to lighten the burden that so many of my fellow men and women, especially children carry. By sharing my story today, I do not claim to have solutions by eliminating sexual abuse or rape, but I might be able to give you a dream to live by: speak out! Have the courage to heal.
As we travel through life, we should remember that life is a journey with many ups and downs.  I experienced laughter, love, joy, tear and hurt at different stages of my journey through life. Along my way, I interact with other human beings and at times of joy, I celebrated love and life and it felt great to be a human being.
However, at times I had bitter and painful experiences and thought that life is brutal, unfair and bitterness determined my language and approach to life. Like in many time in my life, I have asked: ‘Why should this happen to me?” and I viewed him who hurt me as inhuman. At a stage in my life, I heard with a broken heart, I saw with clouded visions and my mind could no longer think of the good.
I stopped laughing and loving, and allowed hatred to overwhelm me. But before I fell too far into the quicksand of hatred, revenge or just calling it quits, the God Almighty had mercy on me and gave me the courage to heal.
I realized one thing, that it is never too late to change. In order for me to heal, I took revenge by putting my negative past behind, asserting myself to be a successful career women.
Therefore, I am no longer burdened with the heartbreak of my experiences during my childhood days. To me it is something of the past, I have moved on with my life! I am working for a positive life in the present and the future.
I am writing this story with the aim of telling you that you are not alone and that there are places you can go to for help. It is normal to be concerned about what people will say, but it’s your life and you must fight for it.
The only person who can change the situation is you. Tell someone you trust. I did and have no regrets. It did not cost me my life before I made that decision. I chose to live just as I choose to tell you my story in the hope that it will make a difference.
I choose to speak out and to take a stand, therefore I am calling on you dear reader, especially children: Speak out! Find a voice. Claim your space and use that space to say: ‘my voice has value.”
By speaking out, you will be able to take charge of your life while you can, and that will give you the courage to heal.
(The writer lives in Namibia. This story is part of the I Stories series produced by the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service for the Sixteen Days of Activism on Gender Violence). 

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