Recovering from the effects of child sexual abuse takes a lifetime. There is no being cured of it. But, thankfully, life does regain the sweetness and lightness that was lost when, over time, you learn to stop blaming yourself for what happened.
I was able to bury the abuse for 20 years before I began to recall it. Then, after seeing there might be a connection between the wreckage of my life and events that derailed me in high school, I began learning how to show up for life, on life’s terms. After only 25 more years I was ready to give the shame back to its rightful owners. I sent a letter to my school, detailing as best I could, everything that happened to me that year. The world got much lighter after that.
Not long after, I began advocating for the CVA (Child Victims Act). It does not look too hopeful the CVA will be passed before the end of the session next week, and I must admit I am tired. I’m not complaining. I’ve had the honor to work alongside awesome people who have been doing this for a dozen or more years. I often wonder how they hang in when I feel so depleted after only my second year.
For a survivor of childhood sexual abuse like myself, and I only speak for myself, this work is exhausting. It isn’t something that I believe in, like a worthwhile cause, it’s how I came to be who I am. It is a reminder of what happened; a retelling of a story I wish had never happened. It is a painful past invalidated by some politician giving the same tired arguments he or she never bothered to learn were discredited years ago. It is having your worth as a person devalued when a Senator or Assembly Member sends an intern (who has never heard of the CVA) to a meeting with us in their place. It is all of the above when they refuse to see us at all.
I’m sure I sound like a broken record when I write on this issue. I’m as sick and tired of it as I imagine people reading this are. Aside from the company I get to keep while lobbying and demonstrating, and the (too few) supportive lawmakers who have encouraging words for us, this is not enjoyable work. I am not having fun, and I doubt many of my fellow survivors or the advocates we work alongside are having fun either. When you stop to think about it, victory on this issue represents the acknowledgment of the pain and suffering survivors of childhood sexual abuse endured. I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t believe I had to, and none of us should have to. Yet, this is also how I know we will all be back next session until this gets done.