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Survivor, I need you to know that you are amazing. I don't say that lightly or as a cliché'. Nor is it meant as a pacifying compliment to compensate the deep pain you've experienced through childhood sexual abuse. I say it because it's true. As a survivor, you stand among an elite group of resilient men and women that own the life they live, despite the lifelong sentence to the darkness that sexual abuse can often plague upon its victims. You've defied that sentence, and for that, you indeed are, amazing. Children are light, they are innocent and deserve to be protected from intrusive and hurtful behaviors forced upon them by adults, adolescents, or other children, where a power differential is present.

Childhood sexual abuse is an assault against the soul; it introduces profound darkness into the light you were created to be. There are many forms of abuse children can experience. Often highlighted are physical, emotional, sexual abuse or neglect. Each abuse has a significant impact on a child and as a survivor of more than one type of abuse; I believe sexual abuse leaves a more profound and disturbing effect on a child that creates a distorted view of their very existence.

Survivor, you are strong. When the pain of childhood sexual abuse is left unresolved and unhealed, it eats away at the core of who you are like cancer until there is nothing left. It takes a strong will to beat cancer and survivor; you are beating that cancer. You are defying odds and emerging into the wholeness created for you before time. I admire you and honor your courage.

I understand that it is not easy, but you have exhibited strength every day you wake up and fearlessly go into a world that is unaware of the deep pain you have experienced and continue to thrive. You may be thinking "thrive" is a little bit of an oversell, but it is not. It's vital for you to know just how strong you are and that there are countless ones around you that as they get to know your story; they too will honor your strength.

There may be moments in your life where you’ve wanted to throw it all away, but you haven’t. You’ve hung in there. Perhaps you struggle with depression or another emotional disorder, but you continue to push past the pain and chase life. There can be significant barriers for survivors after experiencing childhood sexual abuse that hinders us from pursuing and maintaining the job we desire, having healthy relationships, and even feeling comfortable with who we are. We question the very skin we're in, and it's hard to find anything lovely or beautiful about it. Even if those barriers exist in your life; you have not allowed them to stop you.

Survivor, you are bold. Instead, you've kept this secret silent, or you’ve shared it with the world. Your tenacity to not let it define you is a bold move. There was a moment in your life where your boldness was stifled through the assault against you, but I want you to know it’s okay to reaffirm your boldness and stand in it. You are no longer that defenseless boy or helpless girl. Know that your lack of defense was not by your choice, what you experienced was against your will, and you are a survivor.

Imagine yourself staring into the face of your inner child; acknowledge the innocence that is there. Become aware of the carefree outlook on the world and the innate trust you have for those around you. That's the way it should be. We come into this world that way; we don't arrive questioning if the world around us is safe; we assume it is safe and our assumption should be correct. I need you to know that the child that lives inside of you was not responsible for protecting himself or herself, they were birthed into a world where the people that were in charge of their care were also responsible for their safety. It doesn't matter if they weren't prepared for your arrival or if they were young, or perhaps really old. It's not a factor if they were single, married, or going through a divorce. Whatever the circumstances, your trust belonged to the caregivers around you to keep you safe. Your only responsibility and purpose were to be a child. That's all.

Being a child and growing into adolescence can be awkward, trying to figure out life; learning about our bodies and how they are changing — developing social relationships with friends, trying to figure out where we fit in if we fit in at all. A lot is going on for a child, which makes sense that the responsibility to care for children is given to the adults around them.

When this care lapses and a devastating event happens such as childhood sexual abuse, it rocks the world of a child — everything changes. Your body is now aware of new feelings and sensations, your mind is trying to figure out what has happened, and your emotions are often in shock or shut down altogether. Look at your inner-child again; the one that still went to school, that managed to play games with other children, that made it through school years and summers, sometimes in the middle of cycles of abuse.

If you've never attributed words like amazing, light, strong, and resilient to the person you are; that changes today. Regardless of what has happened to you, you've survived. You survived to read this pocket message, and the first thing I want you to know is that - You are amazing. You are light. You are strong. You are bold. You are resilient. Make that your truth and never forget it.

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