The Healing Power of Stories.

By Matthew PipkinApril 25, 2013

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.

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Comments (9)

  1. Anonymous

    It’s people like you that give me hope that I can heal from my past. I was sexually abused too, and everyday is a battle to keep my head up and stay positive.

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    1. just a mom

      I will be praying for you daily. I won’t pretend its easy to heal, its not. I want you to know though, you WILL get through this time. It maY seem like all you do is fall back into the hole of anxiety, depression and the never ending thoughts and dreams, I think any one who has been abused goes through these horrible times. I do, however, want you to know You are STRONGER now, than when the abuse was happening. I want you to know you don’t have to build up walls around yourself to protect you from those ppl. Let someone in, Please, and talk to someone about it Trust me, it helps I will always pray for those who are just like me, somewhat broken, and abused, feeling abandoned by those who we think are dear to our hearts. it will get easier Keep your head high and know YOU ARE LOVED BY MANY!!!

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      1. survivin2

        Just a mom/ your words are what I needed to see tonight. I’m struggling with the ptsd from being abused so many years as a child but you reminded me that it will be okay. Thanks so much!

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    2. Anonymous

      I was sexually abused too and everyday is a battle with myself. I never get the thought out of my head that its my fault and that I could have somehow prevented it from happening. I feel hopeless and alone and it’s people like you that get me through the day. Simply by telling me I’m not alone and that others have gone through this too. So thank you so much.

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  2. Anonymous

    I was exually abused for more than 3 years,multiple times every day I was so young and confused at the time . I was only 8 almost 9 when it started and it went on til 11 . I called him dad which was worse than the abuse, that love is unbreakable you would think… even though he wasn’t my real dad ever since then I can’t ever live the same and I never will. I tried to kill myself so many times. I would overdose all the time and end up in hospitals for weeks . I cutted myself for 5 years I have horrrible scars , that I have to look at every day but I’ve been clean from cutting for 2 years and I think I have accomplished alot. I’ve been arrested numerous of times been on probation a few times.I was into drugs bad but now I am clean and happy. I didn’t think I would make it to 18 , I lost hope in myself and humanity but now I’m about to be 19 and I’m graduating .I’m still alive so what can I say I think I have it bad but In reality things happen and I really don’t.I’m more fortunate than others , I could be dying of hunger and thirst but I’m not . So now I take my life more serious and think of others before me for once in my life. I don’t know where I’m going with my life and it scares me all the time but for now I’ll just go with the flow. All I can say is I hope I find true happiness and love and help those in need all I want is to finally let go of my past and completely move on…I can finally say that I am Strong and I am Alive finally…”I Smile Back and Shake My Head .I Have Absolutely No Idea I am Afraid..”

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  3. Melissa

    I was sexually abused as a child for several years. And even though we tried to report it, no one believed me because I was so young. I have bad flashbacks when anyone gets close to me, like sexually or relationship wise. And I struggle w/ cutting. So take it from me– you’re NEVER alone.

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  4. Anonymous

    When my parents were together, which was for 13 years, I was a victim of abuse. My father hurt my mother and I, but never my brother. If he ever went close to my brother I would provoke my father to keep him away from my brother. My mother use to tell me it was how he showed us his love, but I knew something wasn’t right. When I was 6 my mother left my brother and I with my father. My brother went to his friends house and I was left with my dad. He took me into my bedroom and that’s when the sexual abuse began. At the time I thought it was how daddy showed his love, but now I know he is just a sick man. When I was 9 my father moved leaving my family behind and only visiting for a few days then heading back to his home in another state where he was cheating on my mother with a multiple of women. Finally my parents divorced each other, but my father is still in my life and is only mentally and physically abusing me.
    I’m to afraid to tell anyone and I can’t get rid of the memories. I now have a problem with cutting which seems to be my only way to put my past away, but the memories still come back. I’m progressively getting worse. If anyone struggles with the memories of abuse or if they are presently being abused know that you are not alone and that you do not deserve that type of treatment. If you are considering cutting know that once you start its hard to stop and you will be left with scars that the ignorant will look down on and judge you for. Be stronger than I am and step up and tell someone before it gets worse.

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    1. Anonymous

      Thank you for sharing your story. I am so sorry to read this. Sharing this, writing those words, shows incredible strength. So does cutting – now hear me out. Yes, cutting has long lasting effects and leaves scars but you found a way to survive with what you had available to you. I too was a cutter and I used to hate my scars but have come to appreciate them for what they are – a symbol of survival. Scar tissue is the skin growing back after being hurt. It is not exactly the same, but it grows back to continue to do its job – just like you. You have been through extraordinary circumstances and you are alive.

      Now the fact that you are sharing and encouraging others shows, also that it is not too late. It is never too late to get help. I urge you to please consider calling or going on the chat for RAINN (1-800-656-HOPE, They have people there 24/7 to listen and give referrals. They will believe you, just as I do, and connect you with local resources to help you with these memories and move forward to the life you deserve. Even if you feel like you will never get better, you can with help. I know because I am a survivor, too, and I have been working through my PTSD. It takes time and effort, and I still struggle at times, but I’m happy, loved and have a good life.

      Reply  |  
  5. Anonymous

    Sharing your story shows bravery. I was afraid to share mine in the beginning, but once I do, it’s like more of what hurt me in the past (depression) is escaping more and more. I haven’t received help in over 6 years and although I still get days where I feel like I’m back to square one, I’ve come so far. Sharing your story can be really scary, but it can also help cure whatever is going on with you emotionally or physically.

    Reply  |  
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