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Trauma has impacted every single decision I’ve made for as long as I can remember, but that hasn’t always been a bad thing. I was a carefree, fearless kid up until I turned eight years old. That’s when my world turned upside down. I found out I had a brain tumor the size of a golf ball. After months in the hospital I was finally tumor free, but my life was completely different. I was different. I lost the use of my arm as well as all of the confidence I used to overflow with. I was reserved. Easily intimidated. And I held back more than I ever had. Shortly after that, the person that took away my peace for the longest time came into my family’s life. Over the next two years he seemed like a normal person, and then he took my safety away right as I was learning to be myself again. He stole years of my childhood, turning me into someone I didn’t recognize.

Honestly, I don’t remember who I was before trauma became a part of my life. I experienced different forms of it while I was so young, and I often think about who I would be if it hadn’t affected my life as much as it has. Because it was so prevalent at such a young age, every decision I’ve made (and still make) has been made from a perspective muddied with trauma. I don’t know what kind of life I would have if I had never gone through trauma or what kinds of things I would do. What I do know is that I’ve avoided opportunities because I don’t do well with change. My anxiety has kept me from meeting new people and putting myself out there as much as I could, and I can be a very closed off person when I’m not feeling like myself.

Although it has scared me away from a lot, it has opened me up to a lot as well, and I’m grateful for the connections I’ve made because of it. I met one of the best friends I’ve ever had while I was still stuck in the situation I was in, and after connecting over our traumas, we grew to be really close. For twelve years we were each other’s go-to, and we helped each other through so much. Because I knew she understood what I was going through, I knew I could trust her, and becoming friends was one of the best decisions I could have made. We may not be as close as we once were, but I know I can always count on her and she knows the same is true for me, and that’s what matters most.

I’m also incredibly grateful for the connections I’ve made through this community. I learned about A Voice For The Innocent in 2018 and connected with them when I started to plan my first sexual assault awareness walk. I joined their volunteer team in 2019 and now I can’t imagine not being a part of it. I honestly don’t know if I would have found them if my experiences hadn’t led to me seeking them out, but I’d like to think that either way, I would. Working with AVFTI has helped me open up as well as connected me to some amazing people. It’s helped me see more of the resiliency and strength that so many have and I love seeing all of the love and support that’s shared. Although the trauma was terrible, it’s made me stronger as well as helped me build connections to some of the strongest people I know.

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