Her heart still beats inside my chest, but she did not survive.

This is not an inspiring or uplifting post, but it is the truth and it demands to be spoken. If people are to truly understand the ramifications of child sexual abuse, they are going to have to hear from those who came back from it… and those who never did.

They call me strong. They tell me I’m brave, resilient…a survivor. And though the intentions and compassion behind their praises are not lost on me, they always leave me cringing.

What did I do, I wonder, to earn a title reserved for the most tenacious members of humanity?

I’m still walking, sure, but no one tried to cripple me.
I’m still breathing, but no one tried to kill me.

That part was an accident.

You see, when it was all over, my legs stood up and my arms pulled on my clothes. My body carried me through life, one day at a time, until the abuse was just a memory. But my younger self, the little girl I once was, she stayed in that room, sprawled, naked, across the mattress as the light left her eyes.

I am not her. The fearless child staring up at me from old photos is a stranger.
She was brave and I am afraid of the world.
She was bold and I am weak.
She led and I am too untrusting even to follow.
What she treasured, I don’t deserve.
Where she saw sunshine, I see shadows.

Her heart still beats inside my chest, but she did not survive.

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