Guest Blog from Golf Pro Anya Alvarez

 

What’s the Worst Type of Sexual Abuse? 

Since I started speaking out on sexual abuse at the age of 16, the response I have received from most people is positive. There are those who have felt a connection to my story; shared the similar pain and shame; those who didn’t realize how much the abuse affected them until years later; and those who have never told a single soul about the abuse they survived. 

Whatever their story was, there was some of sort of connection that we had experienced a violation, not just of the body, but of the mind and spirit.  

However, with positive feedback, there oftentimes will be someone who doesn’t resonate with my story or doesn’t appreciate why I chose to share my story. In particular, after an article had been published about me and the work I’ve done concerning sexual abuse, someone accused me of just using the abuse to “get my name out there and that my abuse wasn’t nearly as bad as others so my story wasn’t as legitimate.”

What this person said did not hurt me. I certainly understood the frustration that perhaps I had not experienced traumatic enough abuse compared to others. There were several times when I heard stories recounted to me after giving a presentation that would absolutely break my heart. It made me question how someone could ever go back to trusting anyone or cultivating a normal and healthy relationship and also how resilient the human spirit must be in order to survive such trauma. 

It did make question: how bad does the abuse need to be in order to make it legitimate? What are the requirements for someone to think you’ve been abused enough in order to speak about the abuse in a way that details the effects it had on you? 

I’ve experienced three assaults on different levels that each affected me in a different way, but also had similar side effects: a molestation that took place over six months when I was 9; a rape at 16; a rape at 18. All three took place with different people. All took place in difference settings. One took place because I didn’t know the abuse was abuse; the other took place because I went to an older man’s house and he took advantage of my vulnerability; and the other took place because I put myself in an extremely dangerous situation that I could not physically break free from. 

I’ve heard stories of men or women getting mutilated, gang raped, physically beaten and sexually assaulted by a family member. I’ve heard stories of their rapes getting taped and shared with others. I’ve heard of people getting sexually assaulted and felt even more helpless and assaulted as others stood by and cheered the rapist on and did nothing to stop the assault. 

Every story is different. There is no point in trying to trivialize the abuse someone went through or make it seem like someone “wasn’t abused enough” to make their story legitimate. 

The symptoms people experience after a sexual assault are similar, no matter what type of assault took place:

  • Depression
  • Flashbacks
  • Self-harm
  • Inability to trust others
  • Anger
  • Shame
  • Helplessness 
  • Self-blame/guilt for the abuse that took place
  • Inability to build health sexual relationships 

These are just a few of the side effects of sexual assault, regardless of the abuse that took place. 

Abuse is traumatic. It hurts. It’s scary. It’s more than just a transgression: it is a literal rape of the soul. How one deals with it and how one is affected by it is completely different from one person to the next. To compare the trauma of one person to another does nothing to diminish the shame that comes along with sexual assault. 

After contemplating the question about if my abuse justified speaking out about, I came to a resolution that my story is worth sharing. Too many people have resonated with my story that stepping down and staying silent would do nothing in helping end the shame that many people feel after sexual assault. 

I encourage you that if you or someone you know has been abused, to not compare your trauma to someone else’s. Instead, if you’re able to find a safe place to discuss the abuse, try to find similarities where you can draw from each other strength and resilience and know that you are not alone in your pain, guilt, shame, or hurt. Find common ground to help end the stigma that comes with sexual assault in society. 

We are all survivors together in our abuse despite the differences in our stories. Let us unite in the pain and find a way to strengthen each other through it.

Testimonials

"Thank you for giving us the opportunity to be included in the KidSafe program. I highly recommend this program to other schools. We hope that we will be given the same opportunity for our Kindergarten and 2nd grade students to be a part of this wonderful program during the 2016-2017 school year."

Mrs. Keelyn Meselsohn 2nd Grade Teacher/Team Leader Tradewinds Elementary School

"The Safe and Smart Series Book My Body Is Special and Belongs To Me is kept in my middle school clinic and has been a tool that has opened many conversations for me between students that have experienced a difficult situation and were unable to talk about it. Through the illustrations and nonjudgmental verbiage the author has allowed kids permission to share their feelings about invasion of their personal space. Thank you so much."

Nurse Connie, PBC School Nurse 6.8.2016

"I'm so grateful that KidSafe has partnered with my daughter's school.  I learned so much in the parent training--how to recognize potential sexual predator behavior; how to quiz my child about what they would do in different scenarios; and how to explain safe and unsafe touch.  In addition, knowing that my daughter is receiving weekly trainings on these topics gives me great peace of mind.  I have confidence that I can reinforce what she is learning in school in order to prevent her from ever being a victim of such a heinous crime.  Thank you KidSafe for your dedication to protecting our communities' most vulnerable citizens."

Christina Kranick

“It was a normal Saturday and I was at the rink with my 7 and 8 year old. My son asked me if he could use the Men’s Restroom by himself.  Without hesitation, my daughter said,  Absolutely not! I was in KidSafe today and you cannot go to the restroom alone.  It is very important that Mommy is with you.. with us.   I was so proud of my little girl!  We are so blessed to have Debbie Miller at our school teaching our children the importance of safety. Many thanks to you all!  Your program and instruction is absolutely amazing.  Keep up the great work!"  

Tara Henley Admissions Assistant, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and School, Ft. Lauderdale

I am a parent of two Pine Crest children and I attended your program on Monday night. I just wanted to thank you so very much for the very informative seminar. As hard as it was to hear all of those things, it was very needed. We were thrilled that you were able to come and share that very important information with us and our children. So again...thank you.

Elisa Aronberg

Today’s training was awesome! It was very informative. Sally was a very good resource, she motivated us a lot! We want to pass on this information to parents, teachers and students! Thank you for offering workshops like this. These are tools we use to continue serving our children and families.

Participant from Children’s Services Council of Broward Seminar

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