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At the beginning of the month we talked about how survivors of sexual abuse often create a comfort zone for themselves. Two different images were offered - that of wrapping yourself up with insulation like a blanket or forming a protective wall. It may also be a comfy nest that you don’t really want to leave, even when it’s time.
Let’s explore what a comfort zone might look like for you.
As sexual abuse survivors, we have had to create safety for ourselves. We experienced the unthinkable and now feeling vulnerable and/or out of control can be frightening and uncomfortable. For me, there were a number of layers I wrapped myself up to feel safe and secure.
Although it can be as quick as a few minutes, a traumatic event, such as sexual abuse, has harmful ripples that extend out decades and even generations. If the deeper struggles aren’t addressed, brought to light, and healed, each survivor will pass on the proclivity for poor choices and destructive relationships to the next generation. Sadly, I know this firsthand as my family has suffered multiple generations of trauma and sexual assault. Starting with my grandmother, and cascading down to most recently, my beloved daughter, the women in my lineage have been and are survivors.
I never thought my family would be a part of a statistic. The Center for Disease Control reports that 1 in 5 women have experienced completed or attempted rape in their lifetime. 1 in 3 female victims have experienced it between 11-17 years old. (1) I just didn’t think it would happen to my daughter. As the parent of a teenager who was raped, I thought I had taken all the precautions to safeguard her from sexual assault. Understanding the statistics, taking an active interest in her friends, and creating a safe space for important conversations, we discussed sex, intimacy, and safety. My daughter was encouraged to come to me with any concern. I was vigilant! I monitored relationships, supervised time with friends, all to protect her. Hell, I was the poster child for the helicopter mom.... and yet it happened. Right under my nose! She was silent about it for months, and the assault kept happening. When she finally worked up the courage to tell me about the ongoing rape and abuse from her church youth group boyfriend, I was shocked. Not only did it bring back vivid memories from my past, but as a sexual assault survivor myself, I was floored that I had failed to shield her from this horrific trauma. All my carefully crafted protective parenting didn’t shelter her from this terrible assault.