FORWARDTHE BREAKING OF SILENCEI used to write words that lacked clarity. In fact, my book began that way. A mixture of watered down truths that attempted to turn the horrors of my past into poetry. Giving the listener a taste of the insidious abuse that I endured, without ever actually using the words that made it real. It was disservice to myself, that also held extreme validity then; for it kept me safe in my internally constructed world, where I was believed, and everyone else content in their denial. A chosen form of silencing that speaks to how absolutely misunderstood abuse actually is. I remember agreeing with the wish, held by everyone and their mother who heard even a glimpse of my pain, that I could one day wake up and say that what had happened to me didn’t exist inside me anymore. That I could stop talking about it, get married, have a baby, and be normal. Or some other form of it. That I could be a beacon of light for the voiceless, after validating my own person through playing by the “rules,” but even then only if I used the words “Redemption” alongside the fight. That somehow my own shiny life, and joyfulness, could act as a marker that proclaimed trauma stops when trauma ends. But the thing is, it doesn’t. And, I absolutely refuse to unconsciously validate that lie anymore.For 18 years I was raped by my father 3-5 times a week, and none of it was innocent. For 18 years I was physically scarred and conditioned into loyalty by my mother on a daily basis. By 12, the abuse moved from inside the house into being sold to neighbours, police, and men of power for sex. At 14 I was inflicted with an autoimmune disease called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, as my body spoke the words my mouth couldn’t utter, “Please stop touching me, it hurts.” By 15 my addiction to a lack of food left me weak enough to not fight the push of narcotics that my family used as an additional tool to control me; just like my mother working as a teacher at every school I went to was used as a tactic to ensure my silence. At 16 I began to personally dance out the art of self exploitation and darkness, in order to mask the pain that had begun to rise within me. Choosing additional abuse, because in order to keep surviving I needed to have my entire world match the depths of pain I was enduring outside of my control. At 17 I met a family that tore that unstable denial at the seams, and invited me to start to recognise what the actual fuck what happening to me. A wake up call.The fact that I managed to leave at 18 speaks to the level of privilege I had, as a white upper middle class woman. A privilege that doesn’t exist most other places or times today. I had the opportunity and option, regardless of the challenges present, to choose healing above all else. Above employment, above housing, above safety, above relationship, above life. I had a therapist, so skilled in her understanding of abuse, who stood beside me in trust as I had chosen to go deeper into the throngs of pain than anyone else agreed with. As I threw up blood, regressed into a two year old in a twenty year old’s body, and became a paranoid recluse. As I made decision after decision to not numb, to not edit, to not place anything above my own inner guidance that pulled me further and further down the rabbit hole of my traumas. Learning day after day, that I was the one who needed to guide my steps, because I was the only fucking one who could actually take them.That. That is how I stand here today. This is how I am alive. This is why I believe.I believe the woman who exploits herself because it's the only space for her to not feel the weight of the exploitation that happened against her will. I believe the teenager who was rescued from trafficking and continues forward by having multiple pimp boyfriends to ebb the pain that rises when she's around men who treat her the way she as a human and not a commodity. I believe the child when they don't trust the adult. I believe the person who shuns the side of themselves that was raped or molested or treated unfairly because not knowing is easier than knowing. I believe the human who is more comfortable in the slow death of an eating disorder, than they are in the body that was abused. I believe you, because I did the nearly incapacitating work to believe me. We all find ways to cope and survive life post trauma with the means we have available to us. And, sometimes those means lean more heavily upon survival than they do thriving, but it doesn't mean it's wrong. It doesn't mean we're wrong. The discomfort that is felt when I choose to discuss my pain and how rich my healing makes my experiences isn't always easy to hold space for. It is honest, the discomfort and the silence. It is real. It is human and there is understanding. Deep understanding. But. (Oh the sacred but.) Some can set down the discomfort and dissociate from it anytime they want, without having to resort to possibly painful means in order to do so. Many more than we could ever fathom can't. I found ways. But even so, with my ways founded, I am privileged. Not every has been given what I have had. Even with the sacrifices I've made AND the horrific traumas I've endured..I am privileged. I know that. I see it. I experience it. I do not have to cope the ways I once used to, and even though there is undeniable struggle and trial in getting to where I am now, and standing where I stand with all of what I have endured...I have option. I share in how I live and speak and move and be and have become. I share in all ways and it is hard as fuck and so absolutely divine. I share because I am heard, and being heard a part of my life I do not take for granted. This abuse doesn't end just because the discussion is whispered. Most abuse isn't even fucking acknowledged. And if it is...it's because it makes a fucking good headline, and the person telling it is usually white. I can't share for everyone. Even someone who endured an identical abuse to me would have experienced it completely different. My words and my actions and my advocacy are flawed because I am human, but they would be even more so if I tried to share any other story but my own. Because it's not honest if it's not mine. My story is my advocacy. My life is my work. This movement doesn't end or begin with me, but I hold what I do do with such utter care. Because it's not just a thing I do. It's what lives in my skin. It's intimate and raw and real because it's my little girl I discuss and my pain pain I relay. So not only is the discussion about trauma, re: social change, it is the invitation for everyone to feel what is theirs to feel. Because if we all felt, maybe more of us would have places where we could be heard, regardless of privilege. Maybe more of us would have option. However, even if we did, I would still believe what you decided to do for you.Tonight at the dinner table I was penetrated by my father. Not because he was there at that dinner table tonight, but because the memory of his penis penetrating my vagina still lives in my skin. Just like the others do. Just like her hands on my skin do. Just like the conditioning does. Just like it all does. And it will never go away...but that doesn’t mean I am not free.