It’s funny how we humans go through things and often feel like we’re the only ones on planet Earth who’ve experienced them. We look at others and think they have it all together, they have no insecurities, they’re destined for success in all areas of life without the slightest bit of effort.
But that’s not really the case—not at all.
No, we’re all human. We all struggle with different things, are insecure about this or that, or have experiences that simply change our lives and make us feel alone, insufficient, or marred.
But when we have the courage to share our stories, to tell others about what we’ve experienced, what we struggle with, and what we’ve learned, we change lives.
I was sexually abused when I was 6 years old. Then, for many reasons, including guilt, fear, and shame, I kept it secret for the better part of 20 years. What I didn’t realize was that while that story hurt me when it was kept secret, I was healed when I shared it—and it brought healing to so many others who heard it.
It was for this reason that I started a non-profit organization called Speak Your Silence, with a mission to conquer the stigma of child sexual abuse by sparking hopeful conversation. We created a platform to share inspiring stories, empower others, and change lives on a macro and micro level by providing free, in-person, face-to-face counseling on a local level, anywhere in the United States. The goal and the belief is that conversation can help lift the heavy weight of sexual abuse.
While Speak Your Silence is focused on our specific cause, our message is one that applies to every single person. When you share your own story, not only do you find freedom, you also give your story purpose, turning it into a life-giving asset that can transform and even save lives. During months such as this one, designated as both Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month, this is especially apparent and even more motivation to speak up, for yourself and for others.
If we began to more freely share our stories of struggle, defeat, victory, and overcoming, things would be so different. Consider how much more we would relate to one another, how much less isolated and alone we would feel going through our own experiences, and how much more purpose we would realize we have in offering our stories, which are completely unique—and yet, entirely relatable.
We each have a story to tell. Each is unique, valuable, and carries the power to completely change the lives of people we love. Share yours.
—Matthew Pipkin is the Founder/CEO of Speak Your Silence. You can learn more about the mission and programs of Speak Your Silence here.
If you or someone you know are a victim of sexual assault, rape, or abuse and need immediate help, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline (1-800-656-HOPE), The National Child Abuse Hotline (1-800-4-A-CHILD), or your local authorities. For other resources, browse our Find Help page.