No matter who you are or where you go, everyone everywhere has a story. And everyone’s story is extremely worth telling. The liberation you feel from telling your story is almost indescribable. But I will do my best to explain the power of reclaiming your life and your sense of self back. Personally, my story is a story of trauma, specifically sexual abuse. I was sexually abused when I was a child. And for the longest time, I felt silenced, unable to reclaim the power that was taken from me. But just last year, at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Take Back the Night event, I received that chance. I feel so lucky that I was able to get this chance, because for some people, they never get the chance to take back the power. I spoke out against my abuser at the event through a poem I had written. It was the most empowering experience I have ever had. I finally got to say the things I had waited ten years to say, and I came out the other side a new woman with a new sense of self.
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The great thing about telling your story is that you can tell it your way. It’s literally all about you and what you need to move on with your life and overcome the impossible. Not to sound like a list of clichés, but it truly is one of the best things you can do for yourself. You can finally admit that this event or person or thing no longer controls you, that you have reclaimed yourself from it. Again, you get to choose how, when, and why you tell your story. You get to make all the decisions hence giving you all the power in the situation. And personally speaking, that has given me so much satisfaction and strength that I never knew I had. The strength only grows as you continue to tell your story. I have found that the more I tell my story, the more confident and powerful I become. It is so wonderful to feel free from something that has shackled me for so many years. And I have to reiterate that now. You can feel free when you share your story. You have a community of support around you. I have found that at AVFTI, and I couldn’t be more thankful for them and for their organization. Giving yourself this chance to be truly free and to love life again, is the best thing you can do for yourself. And an even greater thing: it can help others, too. I have had three friends tell me their experience with sexual abuse after I have told them my story, and they felt they could tell me their story because I told them mine. Most of them had told hardly anyone, not even their own parents after telling me. That, to me, is amazing. That through my story, I can help others “come out” and tell their story, too. That is the main reason why I keep going. If I can help others and help myself, too, then I know I’m doing something right. And telling your story can be the best way to do that.
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**All opinions in this piece are of the writer, Erin O’Callaghan, and do not in any way reflect the opinions of A Voice For The Innocent, the Board Members, or any affiliates.