Have you ever been in a situation where you felt powerless? That is how I felt as a child when I was being sexually abused.
My name is Jessie, and I was sexually abused between the ages of three and nine by a known and trusted male family friend. The sexual acts I was forced to perform and receive broke something within me that I struggle every day to try and mend. My ability to trust, to feel happiness and to love were stolen from me, along with my innocence, and for the longest time I wondered how I would ever get them back.
I have spent the majority of my life feeling the emotional and psychological side effects of the sexual abuse I endured. I've dealt with depression, I've had suicidal thoughts, and currently suffer from severe anxiety. Although I speak publically about my sexual abuse experiences, I never mention the consequences that are considered "mental illness". Perhaps it is because of the stigma communicated by society - that a mental illness is controllable because it is mental, that it is made up, or that it isn't an illness at all. Trust me. If my anxiety could be controlled, I would make it so that I didn't feel it every day. Writing about my anxiety now, I fear that I will be judged. I don't want to seem weak. But when I really look at it, I think it makes me strong.
One day I decided that I had enough of the anger, depression and suicidal thoughts. I couldn't take any more days waking up hating myself for something that wasn't my fault to begin with. So I came up with a plan to get involved with Canadian organizations that raise awareness about Child Sexual Abuse, and as they say, the rest is history. I could go on for a long time about the things I have been doing over the last year (when the true healing began) that relates to positivity in regards to Child Sexual Abuse, but I don't want your eyes to start burning. So, I will bring you to the part of my healing journey that I am most proud of - Project Roar.
Project Roar is an awareness initiative that I started in May of 2014. It aims to "End the stigma, one roar at a time". By posting details about my personal story, sharing news articles about Canadian CSA perpetrators, and connecting with other survivors, I hope to inspire others to ignore the stigma, and begin supporting this terrible act that far too many people can relate to. CSA victims are often threatened, shamed or forced to be silent, so I want to help survivors break the silence by roaring with me, and many others, who can relate to their past.
Choosing to speak out publically about my sexual abuse experiences gave me a huge release from the hands my perpetrator had gripped around my voice. Although I was threatened into secrecy, my silence only kept him safe. I was disadvantaged, and I didn't want him to have control over me anymore. So now I roar!
Although new, I have many goals for the future. One of which is to have survivors anonymously share bits of their CSA stories, so that others can have a chance to feel like they are less alone. I know how impactful it was for me to hear and connect with the stories of other survivors, so I want to be able to provide that opportunity for others, too. I am beyond excited to begin this next journey with Wear Your Label. I'm eager to learn more about the stigma associated with mental illness, and I love the positive energy their products bring with it. WYL is teaching me that it is okay to have a mental illness, and that there is no shame in being who I am. Anxiety and all.
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