Your Experience Matters

Today, reflection on the uniqueness of each survivor’s experience.

We live in a time when Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) like Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA) are researched and better understood. I find this validating of my childhood experiences. It is reassuring, in a strange but confirmatory way, to read a research paper that identifies the physical and mental health consequences of childhood trauma.

Yet, no research paper has completely captured my CSA experience. Initially, this was deeply upsetting to me. I felt omissions of same-sex CSA perpetrated by adult women against girls as another strike of trauma. In a 1980’s edition of “Our Bodies Our Selves,” the editors included a fantasy of a female teacher sexually molesting girls in a gym locker room as an example of how to achieve sexual arousal. I was enraged by the irresponsiblity and ignoranance of the editos. I was certain if the fantasy were a male teacher, these female editors, would have recognized it as criminal pedophilia.

I wrote to the publisher requesting that this passage be removed. In response, I received a three line letter recommending I seek therapy. I felt intense anger at the nonsensical response to my objection. I was exhausted by the futility and overwhelm of not being heard, seen or understood.

I offer this personal experience as illustration of society’s reluctance to hear survivors’ stories in all their unique complexity. Please know that you matter and that your experience is valid. Whether anyone ever captures your experience of betrayal by a trusted adult, it was wrong and never should have happened.

  • How will you create space for your unique experience of ACE or CSA today?
  • Where will you lift your voice to challenge society’s complacency and acceptance of ACE and CSA?
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