Most every one of us has a “September 11th” moment in our lives; a time when we faced a particular trauma, experience or event that irreparably affected our lives and the relationships we have with others. For sexual abuse victims/survivors, that is usually the date of their assault. For some, there may be more than one date, particularly if the abuse happened over a longer period of time. Unlike other anniversaries these are ones that we do not celebrate. We can, in a way, grieve for the person who in essence died that day at the hands of someone else, like we would grieve for a person who physically died. The person we would have been is completely gone. We may heal and learn to turn our negative experience into something that can help the souls and lives of others, but there is no way of realizing the person we would have become if the abuse event had never happened.
For some survivors, it’s the anniversary they were set free—the date the abuse stopped, which can be a time for grieving and a time of celebration over being set free from such abuse.
I don’t really have a particular date that I remember. There were a couple of incidents in my life where men tried to take advantage, but I can’t remember those dates. In many ways, I’m grateful for this. I suspect it’s my mind’s way of dealing with it.
My memory is more attuned to places, since my family moved around a lot. I can only track my experiences in my life based on where we were at the time, and that allows me to target a general time/date reference. So I really don’t have anniversaries in the true sense of the word, but these events in these particular places have certainly affected and changed my life.
I don’t know that I grieve in the traditional sense the person I would have been. I recognize that these experiences have provided me with the means to support others. I am the sum of my experiences and life lessons. While I certainly would not wish these experiences on anybody or volunteer to go through them again, at the same time I do not regret that they happened.
A Safe Place Discussion Group