At this moment, I’m 21 years old. To a lot of people, that doesn’t seem like much; however, many of your crucial developmental years happen within those first years of life. Look at me, for example. I’ve successfully graduated from high school, learned to drive a car, started college, gotten a job, moved in with my first roommate (outside of school), traveled outside the country, fallen in love, and I’m in the process of graduating from college, finding my first “adult” [professional] job, paying bills, trying to pay for college, and so much more. For anybody around my age, that’s a lot.
Obviously, it’s hard for me to summarize how 21 years has shaped me into a person, but I suppose I can try. Here goes nothing.
I was a shy kid for a long time. Somehow, that shy kid also became a little bit of what others would call a ‘nerd.’ I loved school (for a few years), but more than that, I loved to learn. I still do, for the record.
In high school, I felt kind of like an outsider (as most high schoolers do). I fought with my parents (and disobeyed them) a lot more than I’d like to admit. I was difficult. During those years, everything was changing. I was growing up, and I think a part of me didn’t want to. I didn’t fit in- probably because I didn’t completely want to- and that also added to my emotional trauma. I was also in a toxic relationship. And this, I think, is really where my story begins.
I was in high school, dating a boy. At the time, I thought we were happy. He was my everything, but the whole relationship was unhealthy. I won’t go into detail here, mostly to preserve the identity of this boy, but during the course of our relationship, I became emotionally and sexually abused.
Now, for a teenage girl, that’s huge. It really messes with your emotions, your self-esteem, the way you interact with people, everything. One of my best friends had been physically abused, and you might be surprised to know that I wish I had been physically abused sometimes. That might be shocking to hear, but the bruises go away. When your partner makes you feel like you’re crazy and says that you’re not good enough, that feeling stays. I’m finally getting to a place where I feel good about myself, and I’m finally able to have a normal, stable, loving relationship.
What’s interesting was that I thought I was in a loving relationship, and I didn’t know I had been abused until years later. At the time, I didn’t know what constituted as “abuse.” The best thing I did was talked to my current boyfriend about my past. He is so understanding about everything; even though he doesn’t always understand how and why I get triggered, he’s always there to support me and push me through the hardest times.
If you’re going through or have been through something similar, talking to others may not be the best option for you. Luckily for me, it was. Here are a few alternative healing methods for you:
- First and foremost, understand and truly believe that it is not your fault.
- Positive Affirmations- Learn to tell yourself what you love about being you
- Exercise- Whether you’re lifting weights, doing yoga, kickboxing, swimming, or other, giving yourself a physical outlet for your trauma may be helpful for you
- Meditate- Take some time to breathe and clear your mind
- Channel your pain through creativity- Listen to music, sing, paint, create a film, write a poem, journal, etc. Some survivors find peace in their creative side because it teaches them a healthy mode of expression, rather than letting them be destructive toward themselves and others
- Interact with people- You don’t have to talk about your abuse to interact with others. Be around people who care about you and make you happy
If you are being or have been abused, know you’re not alone. According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. It’s not an uncommon situation, unfortunately. Follow these links if you want to learn more about sexual abuse and effects, or follow these links if you want to learn about psychological abuse and its effects, or physical abuse and its effects.
If you are suffering from abuse (sexual, physical, psychological) in the U.S., call 1-800-656-HOPE for a confidential, free 24/7 hotline for one-on-one crisis support.
I promise this story has a happy ending, but sometimes you need to get through the bad to get to the good. The good is on its way.
Keep on truckin’,