My Biggest Secret


beach sunset

If you have been in the Mama and Baby Love community for  any period of time, you may have gleaned directly or indirectly that parts of my childhood was anything but fun. In fact, it was more than just a “not ok” experience; it was filled with different kinds of abuse and neglect. Part of the abuse and neglect I experienced as a child came from living with a woman who was mentally ill and suffering so much from her childhood that she could not take care of me. The other part of my story is something I have never publicly shared about before.

This part is so hard to share. This part of my story, I really, really, really do not want to tell. I have written it, “ripped it up,” and written it again, over and over and over again. I literally have been working on this one blog post for over twelve months. I have procrastinated and made excuses. Even now, as I hit the publish button, I feel physically ill and my whole body is trembling. My body, my ego, my fear is telling me to stop writing, to just go lie down and watch TV.

Most of my friends do not even know this part of my story…  and I’m talking about best friends. Only my husband and my therapist know everything. It is not something I speak about outside of a therapy session or a conversation with my husband.

As painful and anxiety producing as this is for me, I know it is what I am supposed to do—both for myself and my own healing and for women all over the world. I know that any healing work I do on myself sends ripples of healing out into my family and into the world.

When I was a young girl, very close to my own daughter’s age now, I was sexually abused by an extended family member. And later, when I was older, I was also raped.

I so would rather just crawl in a hole and pretend this is not my life. I so want to keep this part of me hidden. I do not want people to look at me differently, as a victim, as weak, as damaged.

But then I think of my daughter and someone assaulting her the way I was assaulted. I think of the 1 in 10 children who are sexually abused. I think of the 1 in 4 women who are sexually assaulted in some way during their lifetime. These women and children are all around me—women and children who have also experienced having all their power and self-worth taken from them just like me.

I have had to do an enormous amount of personal growth and healing to get to a point where I could tell my story. And in telling my story, I am fully healing the shame I have carried around with me my entire life., shame that told me I was dirty and damaged, that it was my fault, that I was worthless and unlovable. Shame is basically the fear of being unlovable—it’s the total opposite of owning our story and feeling worthy.

I am sharing my story with you now because I no longer want to hide parts of myself out of shame. Shame loses its power when stories are shared and spoken. According to Brene Brown, shame needs three things to grow out of control in our lives: secrecy, silence, and judgment. Shame happens between people and it heals between people. When something happens and we keep it locked up, it festers and it grows. It consumes us. We need to share our experience.

And so, I own my story. I claim my power back. I love myself and know that I am worthy despite my imperfections.

And I am speaking out, as much as it pains me, as embarrassing as it is, because I want to bring awareness to the epidemic of children and women being used, against their will, as sexual gratification for someone else. I am speaking out today so that people know how prevalent sexual abuse and assault is, right here in our own backyards, so that we can join together and better protect our children.


About the Author

Hiya! I'm Stephanie. Mama and Baby Love is all about helping mothers on their own personal health and healing journey and enjoying life along the way. You can learn more about me and what I'm all about. Sign up for my newsletter for more tips, info and inspiration!

Comments

  1. Sending love and healing vibes momma. I commend you for speaking out and being brave.

  2. Will be praying for your continued healing. Thank you for sharing. I am sure this was not easy; you are brave. Your sharing is a great example for Penelope.

  3. You are lovely and brave and strong and amazing. Thank you for sharing such a painful part of your life. We have all suffered in some way or another, and coming together and sharing truly does bring healing. Also, I imagine there are many here who will lift you up in prayer, as I am doing right now. :) I hope you are feeling the love of so many, and feeling proud of this moment and of who you are. Keep doing good things – you are blessing us with your life!

    • Thank you so much Allison. Yes, you are so right, we have all suffered in some way or another. The details of the story may be different, but the sadness, the pain, the trauma whether it is a Trauma with a capital T or a lower case t is all the same.

  4. I have even more respect for you today than I did yesterday. I know it isn’t easy to be true and honest in the internet world. Thanks for trusting us.

    • Thanks Amy. A big part of the reason I am at this place, is because of how wonderful the M+BL community is. I felt that you all had earned the right to hear my story and would be able to hold the space for me. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  5. I cannot imagine what that must have been like as a child so my heart goes out to you dear Stephanie. You are so brave and yes I believe it will set you free. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Thank you for sharing your story Stephanie. You can feel good about not hiding your secret, and knowing that you will absolutely help someone else. Without a doubt. Thank you for raising awareness.

  7. Congratulations for being one step closer conquering this secret. Do not be ashamed, be proud of the woman that emerged from the horrid situation. Sending live and support your way.

  8. Good for you! Of course this wasn’t easy, but I’m inspired that you are able to share so honestly. Thank you from all of us!

  9. Thank you for being so brave! I see you as strong for showing your vulnerability, not weak.

  10. You are an incredibly strong & amazing woman. I am so proud if you for opening up about such a painful and private experience.

  11. Julie Sweet says:

    You are right. Your story has epidemic proportions. I remember sitting, ashamed, in a counselor’s office for several appointments before I could blurt out what had happened to me. It did take years of therapy, but I have overcome and am triumphant over what happened to me. I’m the mama bear now – always cautious, and never afraid to ask the hard questions. I sense shame, still, in your post. Release it. You are not alone. Look at all you’ve become. You, too, are triumphant. I love your blog and you are doing good work that is touching many lives. You are beauty from ashes. Stay strong and be proud of all God is doing in and through you.

    • Thanks so much Julie. Yes, I am sure there is still a silver of shame there, but my hopes is that in writing this piece, that the last little bit will be gone. Lots of love to you.

  12. You are a beautiful strong woman who has helped so many. Thank you for sharing your story but comfort and love continue to surround you.

  13. Thank you for your courage. I suffered sexual abuse as a child as well and know exactly how difficult it was for you to post this blog. It took me many years to overcome the shame, the feeling of being dirty at my core. the feeling of being unlovable. I’m so happy you’ve found that place. Peace and hugs to you!!

  14. Thank you for your strength <3 The more women who speak up, the more this subject will be unavoidable. You are not alone.

  15. I’m proud of you! You have nothing to be ashamed of and every reason to be proud of yourself! Thank you for having the courage to speak out as this may give someone else the courage to face their demons.

  16. There, you have done it. You have reclaimed your power from those who stole it from you. You are courageous and brave. You have stood out past the shame that doesn’t belong to you. You need not be embarrassed, you did not do these things. You are amazing and wonderful. Today you stood before your readers as vulnerable as you have ever been. Tonight you will go to bed knowing you did the right thing for you. Thank you for allowing us to share in your truth. I am unbelievably proud of you. You are stronger than you will ever know.

  17. Nicole Johnson says:

    Hi Stephanie,
    I want to applaud and acknowledge you for sharing this out here on the web. As a mother of a young girl, I have these concerns as well. How do we protect our children from this type of abuse? What should we look for? What should we avoid? What should we be teaching our daughters? I have already been wary of “asking” or “requesting” she give hugs and kisses to people outside of our tight circle. But I am sure there is more to teach, more boundaries to be drawn, and more empowerment to model. Any thoughts on this?

    Agin, congratulations on shining your light!
    ~ Nikki

  18. I’m glad you shared this and faced your fear. I was raped as well by what I thought was a friend and it still effects me ttoday. I find though most girls don’t want pity just like you. I know I don’t need any. I bring it up with friends as it needs to be. The most recent was because I’ve made a friend with a guy and his wife and he’s very touchy. Mind y you so am I and is ok so long as my fiance or his wife is there but I had to tell him when I went over one day and it was just us. Luckily he understood all I needed was more space since we were alone. Otherwise I have gotten over my issues with being touch in certain ways and I just use my story to warn people, but I don’t think I’ll ever becoming fly trusting of a lone guy ever again. I feel with you and hope you can over come your emotions because I know how that embarrassment can eat at you and none of us need to feel negative towards ourselves in any way because of an attack.

  19. Christina says:

    Love you – thank you for sharing! You are today and always have been someone I so admire! You have a passion for everything you do and say! You are strong beyond belief, driven, focused and always – I mean always open to learning and experiencing new things and sharing your experiences in their rawest form.

    I especially liked the follwoing statement from above: “I know that any healing work I do on myself sends ripples of healing out into my family and into the world.” We all need to be aware of our affect within our circle of influence and how that ripple affect extends beyond that circle. I am sure your story will encourage others to share and others to be more mindful at protecting each other – especially our children from these types of events.

    • Thanks so much Christina, you are one of the very few people that I have ever spoken about this before to, you know how much you mean to me. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  20. Hi Stephanie,

    I cannot imagine how hard it is for you to share your testimony, but I am thankful. We recently adopted a little girl and had no idea she had been abused until we found out from our sons that she was touching them. It just came out last month that she has been touching them for a year and then last week that she was molested. I cannot tell you how much it hurts to know that a man has hurt her. Now, we are in a difficult situation knowing she is also hurting our sons and is resistant to stopping. We are in therapy, but I felt as I was reading that one day her story will be like yours and pray that one day she too is fully healed and realizes that she is NOT the one who is dirty and shamed. The evil that hurt her she is free from now…. and one day I look forward to her healed story and to hearing that she too loves herself. Thank you for being that adult voice that I one day long to hear…from such a sweet loving child.

  21. You are so brave to speak out. This happened to me when I was young. I didn’t tell anyone. I felt dirty.

    As the mother of 2 young daughters now, I often wonder what I can do to arm them with the knowledge and power to stand up to someone who attempts to do the same thing. I try to keep them away from anyone (related or not) who would do this. I know, though, that it can happen when you least expect it.

    What are you telling your daughter?

    • I actually just started talking to her about it. Her being the same age as when it happened to me, has brought up so much. I have two more posts coming on this topic. One on the process of healing and another about specific strategies to help prevent it. I am not sure when it will be published, but soon.

  22. You are brave for doing this. I wrote about my sexual assault, my family’s apathy for violence against women, and, while gut wrenching, I found it to be a cleansing experience. Your community supports you. I support you.

  23. Sarah Gillespie says:

    Sending you love and light! What an incredibly powerful thing you just did. It spoke to me; I share a similar story. I know too many women do. Thank you for sharing. Best to you and yours!

    • The statistics are true, you are right, far too many women have experienced the same thing as us. Details may be different but the trauma is the same. Lots of love to you.

  24. I could have written this (except the mentally ill mother). These experiences color every aspect of my life. There are days looking at my daughter causes me pain because I was once a jovial, curly-haired toddler until someone chose to damage me (I was around 2 when it started). I will never be the person I was born to be; I can only grow, heal, and live with a pain that will never leave. Learning to walk the line between protecting my daughter from being abused and stifling her through being overprotective is quite a challenge.

    Thank you for writing this, and giving me a place where I’m sure to be both heard and understood. May your heart find peace.

    • I pray your heart will find peace too. I so know what you mean. The death of innocence is a hard death to grieve. I have found that loving and taking care of the little girl in me, is what makes me feel better. I can’t go back, but I can still show that little girl love and protection now, because she is still in me.

      You are right it is a very fine line, and one that I will talk about more in the future for sure, so please stayed tune for more posts on this topic that deal more specifically with the healing process and how to protect our children.

  25. Thinking of you today and how hard this must have been for you. With three young boys, one that will be a teenager in June, I am really stressing how important it is to respect young girls and women. The stuff that some of these young girls post on Instagram is crazy and really confusing to young boys. Having all boys is challenging in so many ways, but having a young girl nowadays would scare me to death. Big ((hugs)) to you!

    • Thanks so much for the thoughts, Janice. I can not believe teenagehood is already here for you, time really does flu. You are such an amazing mother and the world is so lucky to have a woman like you raising boys. But remember, boys are abused too. Coaches, church clergy, even female babysitters (although women are the abuser only 5% of the time). Boys need just as much protection as girls.

  26. Justine Keebler says:

    You are strong and courageous. Thank you for sharing your story.

  27. Thank you for sharing. You are such an inspiration to me and many others! I hope this brings healing to you and others who share similar experiences. My experiences are different, but your posts have helped me in my healing process.
    Love, Love, Love.

  28. You are a strong and beautiful woman! The shame should never be yours but those who inflicted such terrible acts upon you at whatever your age! May your disclosure bring you further healing and reach out to those with similar circumstances! We your readers, I’m sure you will find are all very proud of you!

  29. It makes me so happy to see people accepting that these things aren’t their fault and they’re not a bad person for it happening! I was sexually abused by my male babysitter for years when I was younger and told my parents when I was in middle school. Now that I have two small daughters myself, I’m extremely cautious and aware of everything with them. I’ve told plenty of people about my past, because I’m not ashamed of ME and I want people to know that no matter how strong and confident a person may seem, they can have a tragic past. I spent middle, high school, and a few years beyond trying to cope with the feelings of helplessness, emotional pain, and confusion about myself before I realized that I needed to stop acting like a victim and letting someone else rule my life still. I know a lot of people claim that faith helped them heal, but it’s actually been my lack of faith, as a secular humanist, that’s allowed me to become the person I am today – aware and readily able to help protect myself, y children, and others from going thru the same thing I did. My 3 year old has been learning about strangers and it has been interesting getting her to understand the concepts! I’d love to see anything you would post on talking about this issue with children, from a nonprofessional parent standpoint.

    • Yes, I will for sure post some strategies soon about how to talk with your children and protect them as best you can. Thanks so much for sharing your story. Lots of love to you.

  30. Stephanie says:

    Thankful for your boldness to share and equally as sorry you had to deal with such pain and selfishness from others. A dear family friend was sexually abused and wrote a book about the process of healing. Let me know if you would like a copy. I would be happy to gift to you.
    http://www.secrettoserenity.com/

  31. Stephanie –

    A big hug for the child that you were and the woman you have become.

  32. Thanks for being brave and sharing your story. I have a boy and a girl and I will be teaching them both to respect themselves and others and what is okay and not okay. Even though sex is literally everywhere (books, movies, television, music) there is still a huge disconnect between boys and girls and how each should behave. We teach girls not to dress provocatively, act sexual, etc., but we also need to teach boys that woman are not conquests and notches in their belts. We’ve come along way but there is still such a long journey ahead of us.

  33. You are strong and brave. Good for you!

  34. This was an extremely brave post to write. I hope that you feel some sense of relief and control by sharing this. I’m sure that there are people out there reading this and it has helped them to know that someone else has gone through something like this and survived!

  35. (((((((((((HUGGLES)))))))))))))

    You are a very brave, strong woman! I can understand how you feel as recently I have had repressed memories resurface of being sexually abused by my older brother when I was little. Other than my husband and therapist this is the first time I have told anyone. You gave me the strength to type that!!! You are an inspiration, sweetheart. Thank you!

    • Thank you so much for sharing. A lot of women do not even remember that they were abused, or like me, only remembered bits and pieces for a long time until the flash backs came. I will talk about disociating and memory loss in a coming post. Lots of love to you.

  36. Isn’t it so horrible that we who were victimized are the ones who feel shame? That is so backwards. I know when I acknowledged my abuse and talked about it, it lost its hold over me. I know it will do the same for you in time. Prayers for you!

  37. Hugs friend. I have no words other than to say I am glad you have not let silence win. Others need to know and see that there is hope and that you CAN overcome.

  38. Thank you.

  39. What an amazing journey you are on. We appreciate the difficulty of sharing, and celebrate this step in the process, with you.
    You’ve done a loving thing by sharing. I see you while and happy.
    Much love to you and those who’ve suffered.

  40. Thank you for sharing your story and reclaiming your power. I send you lots of love and light on your healing journey.

  41. My mom was sexually abused as a child, by her uncle. My grandmother blamed my mom. Needless to say, my mother is psychologically damaged as a result, and so was unable to parent very well, since she didn’t even begin to deal with it until we were mostly grown. I try very hard to be patient with her.
    And I was raped. As a young adult. I blamed myself for the longest time, for putting myself in that situation. Only a few people know, because it’s embarrassing.
    God bless you for sharing. I know how hard it is.

    • Sadly, that is a common scenario, mothers blaming the child, especially when it is fathers and stepfathers doing the abuse, that the girl some how “seduced” the father. It’s all very twisted and sad that girls and women have had to go through it, however the details may have been, and like in your case, it’s happens again and again in each generation. I so fervently pray, that the healing work I am able to do on myself will stop the cycle for my own daughter. Thanks so much for sharing, lots of love and healing to you.

  42. I’m so happy you found the courage to write this and I’m praying for your continued healing. You are loved and SO worthy of that love! God bless you!

  43. My heart goes out to you right now and I just want to give you a gigantic hug. You are incredibly brave and compassionate. I am so very proud of you!

  44. Thank you for having the strength and courage to share your story. Having survived a similar childhood, there’s so much that wells up in me when I read this. I hope truth and peace can take root and resonate in your heart and mind as you heal. I hope that on the hard days there are reminders that you were not to blame and it was not your fault. Mostly, I hope you know and believe that you are very much loved, not despite what you have endured, but just because you are.

    • It’s been a long road for sure, but I do finally feel lovable and most importantly, I finally am able to love myself. Lots of love and prayers to you too.

  45. I admire you and how difficult this must have been for you to share. I admire your courage and bravery. May the Lord bless you and bring you healing in the positive step towards letting go of the shame. Offering you my prayers and support.

  46. I’m in awe of your bravery. I have not told, with the exception of my ex-husband. We had been together for years, and I finally screwed up my nerve and told him. Less than a week later he ended the marriage. I know there were likely a variety of reasons, but I have not breathed a word to anyone since and am terrified of the consequences if I do. You’d think I’d be past it, given that I’m nearly 40. And yet…no.

    I salute your courage, darling.

  47. Colleen Kusoski says:

    You are SO strong. I was so sad when I saw the email come through today… I only read the preview, and I instantly knew what had happened. Once, I had a man try to take advantage of me. I was 19, in art school, and loving the attention. My naive self wound up going home with him, not thinking about what he wanted. But something in me clicked and I eventually realized what was going on, and I was lucky enough to trick him into letting me be alone (in which I was able to leave).

    Unfortunately, a friend of mine was not so lucky. Not only did this man assault her, he used his power (he was her hiring manager, and ‘technically’ her boss – he co-owned the company she worked for) against her, in hopes of keeping her mouth shut. The biggest issue, is that she spoke out (posted on her personal blog) and the comments destroyed her. She was torn apart, accused, belittled and insulted for what happened. SHE was the victim, and yet these TROLLS broke her more. To the point where she actually took down the post…. so no more can see what happened to her, and see how she did what she could to overcome her trauma….

    I applaud you for your bravery of speaking out. You are strong and no matter what anyone else says, you ARE going to overcome this.

    Maybe someday people will realize that this is a problem.

    • Thanks so much for your reading and comment. I know that people’s reaction can be like that, and that is partly why it is so terrifying to put it out. The fear of not being believed is very common with survivors.

  48. I think openness does have a power against this abuse. I used to be able to talk about rape when I was drunk and it was shocking how many women, friends and strangers, would tell me they had also been raped. But the more I found I was not alone, not at all, the more I could start to disentangle myself from the guilt and isolation. It was not until I fell pregnant with my first daughter, stopped drinking and subsequently met my husband, that I was able to truly start the healing process. Sober, it is harder to talk about what happened to me but I try very hard to be open and honest about what happened when I can, this is not a subject that deserves to remain hidden in the darkness. We need to bring it to the light. I reported my rape to the police 13 years after it happened; he was arrested but it never went to court due to lack of evidence. But it’s on his record and I believe that very little helps. Also reporting helped me with the healing process; to correctly direct the blame to him and not towards myself. The taboo of rape and sexual abuse needs to be smashed for the problem to be properly addressed by society. Well done for being a shining light, an example of how far you can come in the healing process. May those still lost in the dark isolation of pain and guilt take solace from your story: that all is not lost and that love and peace are still possible. Love to all who have suffered and to all who support them.x

    • Thanks so much for sharing Alex. Isn’t it amazing how being a mother is such a big part of the healing process?

      • Indeed, the love I felt for my daughter was the rope ladder that I could use to climb out of the dark hole I had been hiding in for 9 years. Being a mother is a gift, a blessing, a privilege and a joy. Thank-you for your blog, your words and acknowledgement of the healing we go through to become the best we can for our children are a great comfort in this important, challenging and awesome journey that is motherhood.x

  49. Stephanie, you took the first step. What a testimony and what courage. So glad you have a community and platform that gives you this voice! Hugs and embraces from far away. You are a true inspiration. Ashley

  50. Hi Stephanie,

    I just want to say that I do not think being open about abuse (or any other issue that brings with it stigma and/or shame) makes people look at you as weak or damaged. Remember also what Brene Brown says about the courage it takes to be vulnerable. It takes courage to talk about these things, and while I do think it will make people view you “differently”, I believe it only to be in a positive way. I look at you as an amazingly strong woman, with immense courage, perseverance and intelligence. Anyone can be silent and do nothing, but it takes someone extraordinary to look within themselves and identify a need for healing and change. So while my view of you may have changed as a result of this post, only in the best way possible. I think you posses the attributes that most people work to acquire and develop their whole lives xo.

  51. Just wanted to tell you how brave and strong I think you are – you are an inspiration in more ways than one, and I hope your healing continues.

  52. Denise S. says:

    I have heard it said that children are the best recorders of information and the worst interpreters of it. What happened was in no way, shape, or form your fault, but it is so easy, particularly as a child, to feel like it was. Bless you for finding the courage to speak up and share; bringing hidden shame into the light exposes it for what it is and is part of the healing process. May you find true healing and freedom.

    • Thanks so much Denise. I don’t know if they are the worst interpreters, but it’s taken me forever to articulate it, so I can imagine how it’s impossible for a child to accurately articulate it.

  53. I have done volunteer work for the past 13 years with abused and neglected children. Many of the children that I have worked with had been sexually abused. As you can imagine, I’ve heard so many tragic stories over the years. However, never once did I feel anything but total love and compassion and a need to nurture these young children who had been abused through NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN. Abusers prey on children and they groom them. They are such twisted, manipulative individuals. I’m so sorry that you were affected by abusers in your life. I reach out to your inner child, as I have reached out to the kids that I have volunteered with, to say I’m truly sorry that this happened to you as well as to comfort and nurture the little girl inside of you. May your inner child heal and know that what happened to you was not your fault. May you know that because someone did something bad to you, that you are not bad. It was your sweet, pure innocence that someone preyed upon to take advantage of you.

    Thank you for providing me with an example, for other young girls that have experienced similar things, of how hard it is to heal and how worth it is to do so. Thanks for taking us along on your amazing journey.

    • Thanks so much for reading and support Anne. How wonderful that you work directly with children that have been abused, thank you for your hard work. I know how hard it can be to hold the space and even listen to such stories, that in an of itself takes a lot of bravery. Lots of love to you and the sweet children you work with.

  54. Thanks for sharing Stephanie. While I feel you have already hinted at this in other posts and in your Healing book, good for you for saying it directly. Hopefully you can see from all our responses that while it is natural to feel “shame that told me I was dirty and damaged, that it was my fault, that I was worthless and unlovable”, none of us feel that there is anything dirty, damage, worthless, or unlovable about you. What happened had nothing to do with you. You had the bad luck of being in contact with someone who would hurt someone else in this way.

    God bless on your continued journey of healing! And may others benefit from your bravery!

  55. Love, light and blessings to you, Stephanie!

  56. I cannot imagine what it took for you to share – but the desire for healing prevailed!
    you and many will reap the benefits of your courage, i am certain!
    I do not understand our warped society, where sex is freely displayed, yet we still shame victims; where :these things” happen “else where” and we wash our hands clean…. i have heard many stories within families, within churches,…. they all have the same effect on me: i want to comfort those who suffer/ed and i want to cry and weep, because we as people just don’t seem to understand how to love each other

    may you be blessed!

  57. So proud of you for sharing and I pray for your continued healing.
    I know you will be canoe a better person for sharing and helping others. You have a beautiful family and just take life one day at a time and live it to it’s fullest!

  58. Hi Stephanie,

    You are a woman of great strength! Thank you. I am so enjoying your info about food, especially freezer to crockpot, gluten free.

    I too am a survivor. I am in my 60′s and did lots of healing work in the 90′s and 2000′s. I can honestly say that I rarely think about that part of my life and remember a time that I didn’t think I would ever think about anything else. Know that speaking the truth gives us strength, and takes away the perpetrator’s power.

    I have a wonderful life now and look forward to my retirement years growing alot of our food in our backyard homestead!

  59. Stephanie, sending love, hugs and strength your way. Thank you for having the courage to tell your story.
    The Northeast Kansas- Northwest Missouri Girl Scout Council has a program called Positive Power. This program teaches girls about good / bad relationships. It is a very valuable program for our girls. It would of been great to have this when WE were growing up. Because of your willingness to tell us what happened to you, and others coming forward to tell theirs, the aggressors can no longer hold you captive. You have set yourself free. I pray that you continue to soar in your healing. XO

    • That is great to hear Pam, they def did not have that when I was a girl in Girl Scouts, so glad they are trying to do something. Thanks so much for your support.

  60. Lindsey Brader says:

    You are an amazingly strong woman and mama! Much love and respect to you lady! Xoxo

  61. you are so courageous. I wish I could serve you a good cup of tea and give you a hug!

  62. Stephanie- thank you! I know a survivor with a 14 yr old daughter! She too is scared to death this could happen to her daughter! Prayers for all women who feel helpless, shame, and hopefully enpowerment!

  63. It must be painful to look at your daughter seeing her innocence and know that was the age you were. I’m sorry you were hurt by people who were supposed to be loving and taking care of you. You are courageous to share your story and your healing path. Your daughter is very fortunate to have a mama who is striving to heal and be the best mom possible.

    I have great respect for you. I am a school counselor and am sad to say the statistics I have heard are more than 1 in 10. Part of my job was to teach a body safety class to my students. I encourage all parents to teach their kids that their bodies are their own and discuss and practice what to do if someone touches them in a way that makes them uncomfortable. We also tell them it would normally be someone they know and not a stranger. Sad that we have to tell our kids anything like this but necessary.

    Sending prayers Stephanie for your continued healing and freedom from shame and embarrassment.

    • It has been a painful trigger for sure. She looks exactly like me when I was her age too. I look at her, and think of myself as a child, and think how could anyone hurt such a perfect and beautiful light of God? But like all triggers, they are good, they are keys and clues to more healing.

      So glad you are doing the work you are doing, keep up the good work.

  64. My childhood was… imperfect, but I had it easier than a lot of people, including my siblings and the woman I married. I went through enough to have some understanding, and I have been a sounding board and a sympathetic ear to many people who’ve been to hell and back for one reason or another, and I can tell you this much with all my heart: it’s better when you can talk about it. You don’t have to go back and relive it and go through every detail, you don’t need to obsess about it, but the secrecy is poisonous, and you have done a good thing today.

    Thanks so much for all you do and all you are. I assume I’m not the only dad that reads your work and benefits from it along with all the moms :-).

    Best wishes to you especially today.

    • Thanks so much for reading and commenting Dan. I honestly had no idea that there were Dads out there that read my blog. My own husband doesn’t even read my blog! What a super awesome Dad you must be. Keep up the great work.

  65. I’m deeply sorry you had to experience what you did, but I thank you for speaking out.
    I once was held down and touched (above my clothes) by a group of boys in middle school. The female guidance counselor told me I needed to get over it and deal with it, because it happens to every girl. I would like to say some choice words to her now that I’m an adult. No one deserves to be treated as an object, and it is NEVER the victim’s fault.
    I’m glad you are able to talk about it and heal. Little Penelope is very lucky to have you as a mother.
    Thank you, and keep smiling :)

    • Nice. I will put $100 down that the counseler was abused herself and that is what someone had told her. Just you sharing that here, makes a big impact. Thanks so much for sharing your story.

  66. You have turned from victim to survivor to warrior. God bless you. Stories like this need to be told. There are too many left in the dark, where there is no hope. You have turned this into an amazing triumph, an igniting flame for others to see and be inspired. Thank you for your bravery. Thank you for your fighting spirit. Thank you for your gift of hope for other victims to become warriors as well. You turn your shame into power. An unrelentless power for a catylst of change. Never let the darkness take root again, as light will never be overcome.

  67. Jessica Havican says:

    Wow, I can’t believe how much your experience(s) resemble mine. I was also raised by a mentally ill mother who had an incredibly abusive childhood and it has had many negative ramifications on how I was raised and my relationship with my mom. I was also kidnapped and sexually abused as a young child from an “uncle” of my mom’s first marriage (though of no relation to me). I know this sounds weird coming from a stranger, but I feel connected to you and to your story. Reading this was like reading something out of my own page of life and it’s cathartic to have someone else in this world understand what it’s like to go through those combined experiences. I have yet to go to counseling for it, but know that I should. Thank you for sharing your story. I truly hope this is a big step in your journey of healing. Lovies!

    • Thanks so much for sharing Jessica. I believe in the collective consciousness and the power to heal through one another. And to grieve for one another while grieving our own loss at the same time. I experienced that profoundly with my last miscarriage. It was as if I tapped into the emotions of all women who had ever gone before me or will come after me that have experienced a miscarriage. I grieved for my loss, my previous losses and all loss from women everywhere. I pray you will be able to find a good healer/therapist soon. I have worked with the same woman for over ten years and I would not be where I am today without her.

  68. Hi Stephanie!

    As others have said, I hope you know what a courageous strength you display in your vulnerability. It is a light for all who have suffered and an inspiration to not hide. It is a call to let their wounds come out in the open and be healed. You are so right that disclosure can break the power of shame. I know from my life, that I cannot change my memories or experiences, but the power the darkness has in them can be broken. May you be greatly blessed as you continue to heal and may you continue to see the ripple-effects of your courage in other people’s lives.

  69. I hear you sistah!! Same kind of story here. Amazing how it takes one strong person to stop the continued abuse. continued shame. etc. I agree it is not easy. all consuming. tiring.

    Continue to reach out. one, you find out you are so not alone. Your story is our story. We need each other for support. It takes a life time to correct. At least some parts are now internal for me. I have come a long way. I used to feel like I was worth less, wasted. Not human. I still feel less than the majority of the time. And it is not self pity, but part of being torn down by years of abuse.

    Sharing your story is hard at first, gets easier with every telling. keep telling. keep healing.
    love to you, strength and courage to you.

  70. Stephanie, Suzanne said it best when she said she thought of you “differently”, but it is a good different. I, too, have the utmost respect for the courage to admit your secret to millions of people. May you continue on your road toward complete healing. You are loved!

  71. You are a beautiful, strong, smart woman! I have been following your posts and have been feeling that you were leading up to a revelation of sorts. I am in my 50′s and have older children. Wisdom comes with age and I want you to know that what you did by revealing this “secret” was to empower yourself! To take away the control that your past had over you and to take a huge step towards healing yourself. Congratulations! I hope you know that women everywhere support you! I do! Now go live your life to the fullest.

  72. So much good can come from not trying to hide our brokenness. It makes me think of one of my favorite quotes from Naomi Judd, “Let them see the cracks in your armor; that is how the light gets out.” Thank you for your bravery and prayers for your continued healing.

  73. I have never commented on your site before. I feel compelled now. That took guts. Congrats on taking your power back. We aren’t victims. We are survivors. Made warriors to protect ours. God Bless you.

  74. Stephanie,

    I’ve been a huge fan and supporter for some time now. This post solidifes my deep appreciation for you as a woman, wife and mama. This story isn’t an easy one to share, I know that too well. I’m still very much in the healing process of experiencing my own sexual abuse from when I was 6. It wasn’t until 7 years ago that I even shared it with another person. My family and closest friends still don’t know. It’s a journey—painful and messy but I’m so so thankful to know there are courageous woman like you who’ve gone before me and are paving the way and giving others the strength to find their own freedom.

    Thank you.

    Love and appreciation,
    Caryn

  75. Bless you xxxx

  76. You are one of the most inspirational women I know. You are brave. And strong. And human. And loved. A part of my heart breaks for the ittle girl you – but the rest of my heart is clapping for the love and healing you bring into this world. Wonder Woman ain’t got nothin’ on you lady.

  77. I am also one of the 1 in 10 children who was sexually abused, and I am one of the 1 in 4 women who has been sexually assaulted as well. It is nothing to be ashamed of, it was not our fault. Thank you for being so brave. Our children need to be protected. So many people fail to protect children by keeping this kind of thing hidden, if just one had spoken up about the monster will abused me as a child BEFORE my parents trusted me around him, then I would have been spared the assault I went through. My childhood abuser was a member of our extended family, a dark family secret, and that makes me so angry still to this day. I think that if I had not been abused as a child, I would not have placed myself in bad situations and therefore decrease my chances of being assaulted as a teenager and an adult, maybe I could have been spared that trauma as well. So, thank you for standing up for your daughter, yourself and the rest of the children/women out there. You are strong and you are beautiful. :-)

    • Thanks so much for sharing Auree. Yes, the effects of sexual trauma are far reaching and profound, nothing is unscathed, nothing is not touched by it. Lots of love to you.

  78. It’s so easy to say, don’t feel ashamed, because I have not experienced your pain and suffering. I do, however have very close friends who have suffered deeply and my heart breaks for you and for them. So instead I will say, you are brave, powerful, nurturing, beautiful, loving, the long list goes on….fill yourself with the positive outlook you share with us and don’t let shame take over all the good that you are. And remember, you are loved.

  79. Cathy Curley says:

    Stephanie
    So proud of you! I hope the healing begins. You are so strong!
    God bless!
    Love
    Cathy
    Boston MA

  80. Mistie Charles says:

    Postive thoughts and healing coming your way! How do we protect our children??? I have a 4 1/2 year old son and an almost 8 month old daughter, and I’m extremely selective about whom I leave my son with and I refuse to leave my daughter with anyone including my husband. I want to have more faith in people, but protecting my kids is more important to me.

  81. Just wanted to reach out and say how sorry I am to hear that happened to you. I too was sexual assaulted and abused when I was a kid by a family member. It takes a lot of courage to speak up and to heal. Be kind to yourself! Wishing you all the best in your own healing journey.

  82. You are so brave! Thank you for all you do! Thank you for bringing awareness to this. I have young children and I worry when I hear these stories and statistics. Thank you for sharing. It’s amazing that such a wonderful person came out of all that. I follow your blog.

  83. I don’t even know you, yet I feel proud of you, for speaking out, for stomping on that dark and letting the light flood in… for your BRAVERY and COURAGE and for claiming victory over the past… too many suffer in silence – I truly believe God wants us to share each other’s burdens, but how can we when we all live with a fake perfect life on the outside while crumbling on the inside? GOD BLESS YOU!!!!!!!!!! I will be praying for continued healing!! xo

  84. Missy Hemenway says:

    You are powerful, loved, amazing, inspiring! Thank you for sharing. May peace find you. May you continue to be the change you wish to see in this world!

  85. Me too, Stephanie. I was nine-years-old. I have shed my shame, and I’m glad you have joined the chorus of voices who insist that the people who molested us bear the shame, not the survivors.

  86. Thank you for sharing your story Stephanie. You are so brave and beautiful. May your healing journey bring you great happiness. Blessings, hugs, and love to you!

  87. due to the tons of encouraging comments you’ve already received, i didn’t read them all, so i’m sure this one will be redundant. but i’m sending it anyway:) your bravery is as commendable as it is evident in the care that you take with everything that you do. there is a mindfulness about you that really stands out and is what attracted me to your blog in the first place. you, your capacity to love and nurture, and your creative talents are so much more important than those horrible events in your past, and i’m grateful that you have the inner strength to use them to inspire others. you live a purpose driven life and i wish you the very best.

  88. Wow – took so long to get to the bottom of the comments to post my own!. That should tell you that what you did by sharing your story is a wonderful thing.
    I applaud your courage and strength to share your story. What happened to you was NOT your fault in any way and I’m glad you are releasing the last slivers of shame so you can move onward and upward!
    The power of women, united in the collective consciousness, is unimaginable.
    Keep up the great work!

  89. BreAnn Ahara says:

    THANK YOU for your bravery.

  90. My mother has a story very similar to yours. However, she chose not to talk about it and not to deal with it. Even my father didn’t know what happened to her. Not until my sisters, brother and I were grown and out of the house did she tell us what happened. When she finally told us, we got just a small part of her story. Over the past 20 years, she has finally dealt with her past and has starting sharing her story with her closest friends. Know that coming out to the world about your painful past will only make you a stronger person, and most importantly, a better wife and mother! It’s hard to be the best wife and mother possible while carrying around so much guilt and shame. As hard as this was for you, your daughter and your relationship with her will be so much better because of it..

  91. Denise Osborn says:

    I have been there. Right where you are now. I too was sexually abuse and then also raped as an adult. I do understand the shame, guilt and the wanting to just run away from feeling anything that has to do with this. You are very brave for posting this and I know you will help so many women by sharing your story. I am a mother and now a Grandma. I still struggle sometimes but by sharing it does get better. Just a little bit.

  92. This is very authentic and brave. Kudos to you for sharing. I have a similar story, and it has formed so much of what I thought of myself and about sex over a lifetime. Because I don’t know exactly how to define what happened to me when I was little, I haven’t written about it (should I have let it affect me the way it did? Um. I was five. It just did). But I have written about having been a victim of rape. I have come to believe that whatever happened to me when I was little made me more susceptible to being raped (“date” three times) later in life. I’m not sure whether that’s the typical case for rape victims, but it definitely gives me pause. It is healing for others to not feel alone, and to have the opportunity to further process our own experiences. I learned recently that sex trafficking of minors, of very small CHILDREN, is rampant right here in my little corner of the Midwest. I find it absolutely unthinkable that there is such a demand for it. Recently I was told there are organized rings that go to public events by the busload. There are CHILDREN trained in recruiting victims, right on up the hierarchy. There are mothers in this world who sell their own children for sex (and recruit other mothers to do so)–who give birth to them merely as a commodity. This is right here in our country. In my backyard. It pains me to know it exists at all. But at the same time, I’m glad to know. I’m glad I’m no longer walking around with blinders on. However can it be stopped when there exists this magnitude of sick sexual hunger for children? Well it can’t be if no one is talking about it. It’s the shame. The shame is what keeps us silent. Your example is so very important. Thank you.

    • I don’t know exact statistics but in the research I have done, it is very common for girls that have been sexually abused to be later raped, or experience some type of sexual trauma. It throws everything off kilter for sure.

      And yes, it is absolutely in our own backyards. It is beyond sick and overwhelming to think about, sex trafficing and the men who rape babies are particularly disturbing. Not many people in the media cover either of those topics, its just so dark and hard for people to handle. But we all must be brave. Those who speak out like me and those you have to listen and take their heads out of the sand and the blinders off and the ear plugs out. It takes courage to simply stand witness and acknowledge this kind of darkness in the world.

      Thanks for sharing and for the support. Lots of love and prayers to you.

  93. Thank you for having the courage to share your story. Sadly, my family has also been touched by sexual abuse. Both my mom and uncle were abused by their uncle. My sister-in-law was abused by her stepfather. And my cousin was abused by her stepfather. My husband thinks I’m unreasonable when I tell him I don’t want my son or daughter to sleep over their cousins’ homes, but I know all too well that family isn’t safe. He seems to think it wouldn’t happen with his family, but I’m not willing to take that risk with my babies. My gut says it wouldn’t be safe, and as their mom, I need to trust that, I believe. I will be looking forward to your post about ideas for prevention. I will be praying for your continued strength and bravery. Your daughter is lucky to have you as her mom.

    • It’s amazing how rampant it is in families. I think the statistics are 80 or 90% people you know/family members are the abusers. Good for you for setting firm boundaries. Keep up the good work protecting your children. Lots of love to you.

  94. Thank you, Stephanie! This was a beautiful example of letting go! So many have walked that road of shame. and they hide it deep within…too afraid to reveal. We are overcomers by the word of our testimony AND he that the Son has set free…is free indeed! I pray your continue to feel His healing touch and that many others will be able to let go as a result of your bravery! Myself included! God bless you!

  95. You are so brave to write this, Stephanie. My experience probably wasn’t as traumatic as yours was (I was 12), I still haven’t had the courage to speak out to anyone but Jeff and my mom. I never told my Dad or my brother because honestly I was afraid of what they would do to the person who hurt me. I didn’t want to put my Dad through that. Or cause him to suffer as well. Like you, my abuser was an extended family member and deep down I still think that if I ever spoke up, it would cause a huge rift in my family and possibly cause family members to call me a liar or to blame me. I’m still afraid of that to this day. I am afraid for my children as well. Between what happened to me and the things I saw at my former job and that Jeff sees at his job on a daily basis it is so hard to trust people. Looking forward to your thoughts on healing and if you ever want to talk I am here for you.

    • Oh I feel ya. I would worry about that too, but I think for me, it was just really another version of shame. I care so much about pleasing my father and making him proud that it always just felt like it would a disappointment to him. Thankfully, there was already a huge rift in my family-that side of my DNA is rife with mental illness, addiction and abuse, so my stuff was just a mere small addition to the big picture and it was very easy to cut them all off in one fell swoop. I can imagine how much harder it can be for other folks though, so my heart goes out to you. Thanks so much for sharing. Lots of love and light to you.

  96. Thank you for sharing this Stephanie. Your bravery and vulnerability are very admirable. Thank you for setting an example that it is ok for women to be vulnerable. Through your story, I am hopeful that more women are as brave as you are . Women need to come together and know that we all belong to each other . My prayers and thoughts are with you as you continue your healing journey.

  97. Just a Mom says:

    You’re amazing. Thank you for helping to spread awareness. A friend of mine was involved in abuse awareness for years before she got burned out from reading about the horrors. The last statistics she had come across for child sexual abuse were that 1 in 3 girls, and 1 in 6 boys suffer some form of sexual abuse before their 18th birthday, and that more than half of all reported rapes happen to children under 9 years old.

    It’s heartbreaking to think about, but I’m glad that more people are speaking out about it. Shining a light on it is the only way to end it.

    I’ve loved your blog since I first came across it, but now I think you’re just pure awesome.

    • Yes, the statistics are horrifying. And so many cases go completely unreported, so the stats are actually higher. Thanks so much for reading and standing witness even though I know it’s hard to stomach. Lots of love to you.

  98. It took a lot of courage to share your story. Thanks for sharing it with us.
    You’re a beautiful soul and your willingness to tell about these traumatic events makes other recovering sexual assault victims realize that they too can heal and have a loving family like you have done.

    Love your honesty and bravery!

    Lots of love from Canada.

  99. You should not feel shame, as you were a child and did nothing wrong. To be where you are today is truly amazing. You are a well-doer, beautiful leader, selfless mother, and an inspiration to all who are lucky enough to know who you are. You are a fighter. You fight for health and empower us all to do the same. You my dear, are a treasure. An absolute treasure.

  100. Stephanie,

    Thank you so much for sharing. Your vulnerability makes you brave, not weak. Your website has been such a great source of information for me! I’m sure the next posts on this topic will be helpful to me – I was assaulted when I was 15 by somebody I knew.

    Prayers to you for further healing. Thank you again.

  101. S-I feel like I knew this already. It’s something about the way you say things or maybe it’s something else but I am so proud of you! What courage, what inner strength. Being able to share this hurt is so powerful-thank you for sharing this. A book that helped me to move further through my own healing (different stuff, but big stuff nonetheless) was Captivating by John ans Staci Eldridge. I know that your putting yourself ‘out there’ like this must have been so challenging but-YOU DID IT!! Blessings!

  102. Stephanie –

    Thank you so very much for sharing! I am very fortunate to not know much at all about sexual abuse, but my daughter is 2.5 and it is something I want to educate myself about to make sure I do everything I can to protect her from that.

    I am very sorry to hear your story, but you are incredibly brave for sharing it and I commend you thorough and am very thankful you have shared your story. It is helping so many people in so many different ways- just looking at some of the comments is amazing! Great job to you – you are an inspirational woman.

    Keep up the great work on everything you do!

    Much love,

    Heather

  103. I hate so much that there are people out there in the world preying on others and torturing their emotional and spiritual health for their selfish sexual pleasure. Makes me physically ill. I worked for years with victims of sexual assault. The way rape, molestation and assault tear down victims self worth is so sad.

    You truly are a beautiful woman. The raw, untamed, bold, courageous way you teach your readers about life, experiences, and personal growth is inspiring. I just love your blog. I love that you are such a strong woman and despite what some assholes put you through you are a strength to so many. You have an undenieable fire inside you that is shared with so many women out here in the blogging world. Nobody could put that fire out.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  104. Stephanie,

    I am so proud of you for sharing your story and being so strong! I have known you for many years and it breaks my heart to know what you have had to keep inside for so long. One thing that I have learned over the years is that we are not defined by our past. You have chosen to take (probably the worst type of abuse) and find a way to share love and hope for yourself and the world around you. That is true power! You have such an incredible gift and your words will touch the hearts and souls of many many women and men! Thank you for sharing and freeing yourself!

    Love always,

    Kira

  105. Tracy Spangler says:

    Stephanie,
    I am new to your blog and I wanted to sincerely thank you for sharing your story. As I’ve seen here in the other posts you-and I are certainly not alone. I was abducted, raped and had my car and debit cards stolen in 2009. The thing that worries me most now is that is was done by a friend of my first child’s Godmother/babysitter. As such, and especially now that I have two girls I cannot bring myself to trust anyone, other than my husband. My children are always with us or the eldest is at school. I trusted and loved her Godmother, but she had this monster in her home several times a week. It’s challenging to not have someone to help care for our girls, as I’m mildly disabled and especially now that I am in between two major surgeries and my husband is in a lot of pain as well. I don’t think I’ll ever be comfortable with them being left alone with someone. I am also in therapy and I fear now when my eldest asks about going over to friends’ houses to play. I imagine most of these parents are fine, but what about the one who isn’t? What happened to me changed my life forever, and how l think about myself and other people in a drastic way, Ultimately I just wanted to truly thank you for reminding me and the other women who have been raped that we’re not alone and we’re not to blame. I am so sorry these horrific things happened to you, but you’re an amazing mama and person. Thanks for telling us your story, so that we in turn feel safe to share ours.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your story Tracy. It is so, so helpful to other women. I am so glad you are in therapy and I pray for your healing. Please stay tuned for upcoming posts about details of my healing journey and how to protect our children. Lots of love to you.

  106. I totally agree with the 3 things shame needs & commend you for breaking those barriers around yourself. Sharing should make victims of abuse feel safer & justified not ashamed. Someone hurt you & that person is who should be ashamed, not you! The people committing these crimes need to be punished! If you ever have doubts about sharing your childhood just re-read the other comments & think of all the others whom you’ve inspired; all the other victims who you gave the strength to stand up for themselves. Not everyone will leave a comment so keep in mind you are affecting more lives than immediately visible. No one should have to keep anything like this a secret or feel ashamed or at fault! Sending love, hugs, & healing to all those that need it!

  107. Thank you for sharing your story. Many of us have been in your shoes and can understand the fear and anxiety that comes along with sharing such a painful story with anyone. I have also been thru years of counseling and am on the healthier side of life and it does feel wonderful. Hugs and prayers for all that are still in the midst of the struggle.

  108. Firstly to commend you on your strength, beauty and bravery. The poem below is a powerful piece about this kind of shame – toxic shame, the kind of shame that shouldn’t belong to us but sadly becomes such a part of us. It has helped me and others in my work , with love Josie x
    My Name Is Toxic Shame

    I was there at your conception
    In the epinephrine of your mother’s shame
    You felt me in the fluid of your mother’s womb
    I came upon you before you could speak
    Before you understood
    Before you had any way of knowing
    I came upon you when you were learning to walk
    When you were unprotected and exposed
    When you were vulnerable and needy
    Before you had any boundaries
    MY NAME IS TOXIC SHAME

    I came upon you when you were magical
    Before you could know I was there
    I severed your soul
    I pierced you to the core
    I brought you feelings of being flawed and defective
    I brought you feelings of distrust, ugliness, stupidity, doubt
    worthlessness, inferiority, and unworthiness
    I made you feel different
    I told you there was something wrong with you
    I soiled your Godlikeness
    MY NAME IS TOXIC SHAME

    I existed before conscience
    Before guilt
    Before morality
    I am the master emotion
    I am the internal voice that whispers words of condemnation
    I am the internal shudder that courses through you without any mental preparation
    MY NAME IS TOXIC SHAME

    I live in secrecy
    In the deep moist banks of darkness depression and despair
    Always I sneak up on you I catch you off guard I come through the back door
    Uninvited unwanted
    The first to arrive
    I was there at the beginning of time
    With Father Adam, Mother Eve
    Brother Cain
    I was at the Tower of Babel the Slaughter of the Innocents
    MY NAME IS TOXIC SHAME

    I come from “shameless” caretakers, abandonment, ridicule, abuse, neglect – perfectionistic systems
    I am empowered by the shocking intensity of a parent’s rage
    The cruel remarks of siblings
    The jeering humiliation of other children
    The awkward reflection in the mirrors
    The touch that feels icky and frightening
    The slap, the pinch, the jerk that ruptures trust
    I am intensified by
    A racist, sexist culture
    The righteous condemnation of religious bigots
    The fears and pressures of schooling
    The hypocrisy of politicians
    The multigenerational shame of dysfunctional family systems
    MY NAME IS TOXIC SHAME

    I can transform a woman person, a Jewish person, a black person, a gay person, an oriental person, a precious child into
    A bitch, a kike, a nigger, a bull dyke, a faggot, a chink, a selfish little bastard
    I bring pain that is chronic
    A pain that will not go away
    I am the hunter that stalks you night and day
    Every day everywhere
    I have no boundaries
    You try to hide from me
    But you cannot
    Because I live inside of you
    I make you feel hopeless
    Like there is no way out
    MY NAME IS TOXIC SHAME

    My pain is so unbearable that you must pass me on to others through control, perfectionism, contempt, criticism, blame,
    envy, judgment, power, and rage
    My pain is so intense
    You must cover me up with addictions, rigid roles, reenactment, and unconscious ego defenses.
    My pain is so intense
    That you must numb out and no longer feel me.
    I convinced you that I am gone – that I do not exist – you experience absence and emptiness.
    MY NAME IS TOXIC SHAME

    I am the core of co-dependency
    I am spiritual bankruptcy
    The logic of absurdity
    The repetition compulsion
    I am crime, violence, incest, rape
    I am the voracious hole that fuels all addictions
    I am instability and lust
    I am Ahaverus the Wandering Jew, Wagner’s Flying Dutchman, Dostoyevski’s underground man, Kierkegaard’s seducer,
    Goethe’s Faust
    I twist who you are into what you do and have
    I murder your soul and you pass me on for generations
    MY NAME IS TOXIC SHAME

  109. Christina says:

    Having been through a similar ordeal when I was a child, I give you so much credit for facing it within yourself and send prayers for your continued healing. It took years of therapy for me ……..

  110. You are so brave for following your heart and sharing. <3

  111. My Mum was sexually abused, although I fortunately never was. I think she passed down a feeling of shame to me though. I guess in her efforts to protect me, she put the onus on me to never dress in even slightly revealing clothes even around my brothers. I’ve carried this feeling of inexplicable shame with me all my life and never felt comfortable or known how to act around unwanted male attention. Suffice it to say it was a journey for me to get comfortable enough to fall in love with my now husband, and more importantly let him fall in love with me. I have two young daughters and a baby boy of my own now and I wonder how to protect them and teach them to protect themselves without making them feel ashamed.

  112. Caroline Moustache says:

    Thank you for sharing your story, there really are no words that one can say but I will say this, congratulations on becoming a beautiful, whole, positive person despite adversity of the worst kind.

  113. You are so incredibly loved and lovable, to quote Brene Brown’s parenting manifesto! You are brave and beautiful in your rawness and courage! I can relate to the shame being a survivor myself and am encouraged and empowered by being able to witness your journey! Thank you for all you do to help yourself, your daughter, and so many others… You truly make this world a better place by being all that is you!

  114. You are such a brave lady to share this with the world. What a wonderful example you are to your daughter and the rest of your family. I pray for your continued healing and strength. Blessings to you.

  115. Thank you for sharing Stephanie. I am new to your site but I can feel I am in the right place. You are connecting with many women and are doing great work. Hugs and love!

  116. Julia McMillen says:

    I’ve been visiting your blog off and on since i got pregnant with my daughter, a while back. this is the first time ive come on to read anything new in a few months and I just find it so relieving to know that someone else can go through this sort of thing and come out a strong, loving parent. you give me so much hope for my family. thank you for sharing this.

  117. Anonomous says:

    Thank you for speaking up, this is my biggest fear as well. I was raped in my teens and my husband was molested as a young child. Its such a scary thought that these things really do happen all the time.

    • Thanks so much for reading and for the support. It really is terrifying how often it happens. I hope and pray that one day it will happen less and be less tolerated by our culture.

  118. Hi Stephanie, I am not a mom yet but your posts are so inspirational..i was wondering if you had any advice, i was abused (not sexually) but physically as a child by mother, it was very bad. My first serious relationship he cheated on me and also was physically violent..i am now engaged to a wonderful guy and will start my family soon but do you find it hard to trust people?? I always feel like he is going to cheat on me or something is going to go wrong..i want to escape my past but find it hard too…i have seen therapists and am currently on wellbutrin but something is missing…what has helped you trust again??

    • Thanks so much for opening up and sharing Jocelyn. I have found the most healing in bodywork therapies. Traditional talk therapy and drugs do not get to the root of the problems. Look up Trauma Release Excercises, Emotional Freedom Technique and Mayan Abdominal Massage. As well as energy healing and art therapy. I do Skype sessions with clients, and soon I will have weekend healing retreats available where I live in South Florida, so stay tuned via my email newsletter. Lots of love to you.

  119. As a social work student I worked with children who were all in foster care…all were sexually molested at various ages by family members. I only had a couple of adult clients and they had also be molested as children. I was amazed at the prevalence of sexual abuse clients in our agency and at the time I had been a maternal and child nurse for 30+ years and thought that I had seen almost everything. I am so glad for you that you are able to talk about this very personal and widespread issue. Please know that you are not alone and that speaking up will undoubtedly help others to hopefully speak up as well and then the true healing process can begin. Good thoughts and prayers to you Stephanie.

  120. Just wanted to send u love! U r a lovely brave soul!

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