Survivors of child abuse take different approaches to their handling of, or lack of, their personal experiences. Some survivors want to shut out their bad memories and never talk about those experiences again. Some talk a little and still struggle with their current afflictions, which they likely have as a result of the child abuse they endured on a regular basis. Some feel an overwhelming need to somehow make sense of the abuse and make it “mean” something.
Judith Herman M.D., author of Trauma and Recovery explains this group of survivors: “a significant minority, as a result of the trauma, feel called upon to engage in a wider world. These survivors recognize a political or religious dimension in their misfortune and discover that they can transform the meaning of their personal tragedy by making it the basis for social action.”
I am definitely one of those survivors who thrives on finding a “survivor mission”. I share my story with many people, and even better than that, I’ve had the chance to serve so many children, women and families who are just beginning their healing road, after a life of abuse. The children who are surviving child abuse today, as we live our “normal” lives, and the adults who live as survivors beside me, are the reason I wrote my book (All My Friends are Zeros, Unhooked Books, 2014).
I was offered a second chance with my life story. Putting my childhood down in writing was important to me because I remember so vividly those days and moments when it felt like literally no one cared about what was happening to me when I was a child. I know my book can reach those children.
When I meet the young people who tell me they've experienced abuse, I remember why I wrote the book in the first place. I remember how desperately those children need to hear that someone has gone through similar pain and survived it! I remember the young people who have told me that they are “done”. I remember the look in their eyes, the hollow pain they feel…and I know that I have to make my past serve a purpose to help the young people see that the sadness and fear will end…the pain dulls, and life can finally be a happy place for them.
It’s not always a joy to share my message, it’s never easy to serve. I am a busy Mama and my own “monkeys” (aka children) are my main priority, but I juggle that with the demands of running a non-profit organization, in addition to my volunteer work, and make sure I make time to speak about my past. I push through with my message to make sure my past suffering serves a greater plan. Most importantly the victims who are currently living in a world of violence, and the survivors who hold painful memories like I do, are the reason I share my experiences. I’ve seen the impact it makes and I’ll never stop sharing as long as I see the hope it provides.
Jessica Nicely is a dedicated advocate for child abuse prevention, awareness and treatment.
She is the author of All My Friends are Zeros: My Secret to Overcoming Adverse Childhood Experiences.