Nearly two decades ago, I disclosed the daily physical, sexual and emotional abuse I had been enduring since the age of 11 at the hands of my family’s trusted, well-loved live-in nanny. At just 16 years old, I felt like I had been carrying the weight of the world with this deep, dark secret and I could no longer bare the guilt, shame, desperation or isolation. Despite my fears, when I did find my voice, my dad said the three words I most needed to hear: “I believe you.” Then: “I love you.” In that moment, nothing else mattered and I knew I would be okay.
The days, months and years that followed were often rocky, challenging and complex – as I began my healing journey with the support of family, therapists and friends, I faced many road blocks in the form of insensitive peers, PTSD, communication with my abuser…my road from victim to survivor was often one step forward and three steps back, but after doing the work and committing to healing, I now consider myself to be a thriving survivor of child sexual abuse. But more than that, I am a woman, a wife, a daughter, sister, aunt, educator, advocate, founder and CEO…I am happy and whole, and your child will be, too.
Over the years at the helm of Lauren’s Kids, I have often likened the journey we go through from victim to survivor to that of a butterfly. Maya Angelou said, “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve such beauty.”
Like every victim of sexual abuse, a piece of myself, my heart, my childhood, is missing — stolen from me by my abuser. This is a painful truth. But, while I will never be able to recover that piece, I now see that it has undergone a transformation of healing to become something new. It has become something beautiful and full of life and love.