I remember it like it was yesterday, the first time I was sexually abused as a child. I felt fear, loneliness, coldness, and confusion. I remember thinking “Maybe it will only happen once.” Unfortunately, I learned that was not the case. Before the age of 10, I knew what the male and female sexual organs were and I knew what they meant to me. I was introduced to pornography at a young age. Although I knew it was wrong, it was a part of my childhood experience.
Starting at the age of five until about fourteen, I was in a fight that I was not prepared for. I did not know who to blame except for myself. I figured the abuse was my entire fault somehow. I did not know whether to tell or be silent. I did not know who would or would not believe me. The only thing that was certain was that I was in pain and no one saw the silent tears or the outrageous screams that were sealed into a box from my own consciousness.
I do not know about you, but I grew up in a household where “what happened in the house, stayed in the house.” I did not want my mother to be upset, angered, or feel like this experience was her fault because we had similar experiences that took place within our family already. I saw the struggles of a single mother and I instantly took on the self-inflicted burden of feeling as though I needed to be my mother’s protector. I did not want to be the cause of another tear.
Due to my mindset behind what was happening, I went through a multitude of emotions and feelings: shame, depression, anxiety, fearfulness, ugliness, and isolation. I felt misunderstood, and manipulated. Eventually, I went through a stage of not wanting to exist. I mentally became suicidal and sought out other pains to cover up the emotional and mental strains that I battled on a daily basis. I started physically cutting myself because I wanted someone to ask me WHAT WAS WRONG; I figured that could lead into my story. I also did it because it was another form of coping.
I can remember that I started masking myself in the second grade. I literally started building someone outside of myself so early that when it was time to speak on who I was, I had lost her. I buried her in emotions, experiences, and societal expectations behind what was acceptable and what was not. By high school, I became the class clown, skipped classes, and created a person outside of myself so loud that people wouldn’t notice my internal issues.
However, my life got to a point where I couldn’t keep suppressing and burying this little girl any longer. I got tired of the late-night attacks, emotional rollercoasters, and broken relationships, so I had to face the source, ME!
First, I told my mother what happened at 25 years old and THAT is when I can honestly say is when I started healing. That was the point when I took POWER over my life back. Things did not play out as I envisioned, but I had been through so much that it wasn’t a surprise anymore. I started focusing on what to do with the hand I was dealt instead of hoping for a better hand.
I started to address one branch at a time in my life. I had to cipher through the depression, anxiety, PTSD, insecurity, control, anger, hate, and any other branch from the tree which was part of the MASK that had to be addressed. Once I finished with the branches and removed the mask, I had to address the roots and the seed. This was the actual abuse and the characteristics that were connected to the seed. The roots are the places that many people do not want to face because it gets dirty. There is pain digging up what has been buried for years. But it is part of the process. The uprooting took some time. The uprooting took some strength. The uprooting made room for me to replant, eventually. The roots exposed the fear of being re-victimized. The roots were the constant pictures that were repainted every time I told the story. All of those things had to come up and out of my life.
Next, I focused on the planter. This is the portion that many people either have a hard time with or never get to. This is the stage of forgiveness. I had to realize that hurt people hurt people, God loves us all the same, and I needed God to forgive me. I eventually matured spiritually and developed the mindset that, “If I needed God daily to forgive me in so many areas of my life, who am I not to give the same grace and mercy that may be needed from me. “ I am not saying that this step comes that easily. It takes work, preparation, and a desire to FULLY be released and healed.
All of these stages allowed me to slowly heal. Slowly speak. Slowly find my voice. Slowly gain power. It took time, perspective, forgiveness, and awareness. I had to go find that 5 year-old girl and take her mask off and work my way through the years to find out who I was. Now I stand with a voice for the voiceless and my story is used as a tool to create, inspire, transform, heal, and develop those who are like me. There is healing in speaking, we just have to build the courage to SPEAK!
- Shirkydra Roberts
Shirkydra Roberts is a VICTOR of child sexual abuse. She explains her journey from pain, depression, PTSD, suicidal ideations, to living a life of power, motivation, and transformation. She shares the meaning behind her motto "What had the chance to kill me, didn't".