January 3, 2024

Unsilenced: What I Gained after Overcoming Abuse.

About a year after I finished high school, a chance encounter marked the beginning of a life-altering chapter in my life.

It started with someone who initially seemed harmless but soon revealed his true intentions. This person, a figure of influence in the entertainment industry in my country, sexually groomed me online for six months. This led to a three-year emotionally abusive relationship that I couldn’t possibly comprehend at that time and was one of the main reasons, if not the only reason, that forced me to make a drastic decision: to leave my country.

During these three years, I kept my gaze down as we passed through security to enter his neighborhood. All the curtains in the house had to be kept closed, and I was instructed to avoid rooms with glass doors and no curtains in case of paparazzi or curious neighbors. I was trained to protect him.

The power this individual held over me was suffocating—the type of power that is so often glamorized in movies. Despite being quite a few years older and having a stellar career and reputation, this person managed to weave a web of control and manipulation that left me feeling trapped, helpless, and isolated from my parents and closest friends.

I was a minor (and in the closet), and he took on the roles of an older brother and best friend, presenting himself as someone who cared about me.

I became not only his shadow but also a shadow of who I could potentially be.

I was nobody, had nobody, felt nothing.

He was everything, had everything, and was untouchable.

The psychological toll of this relationship was immense. It made me question my own judgment and filled me with self-blame and hatred.

It took me a long time as an adult to realize that my gravitation toward working with trauma-affected populations was more than just a professional calling—it was a subconscious cry for help. An attempt to come to terms with my own past.

I embraced mind-body practices, not only for personal growth and regulation but as tools to aid others in their healing journeys. I began to put the pieces of myself together through counseling and educating myself about this topic. I delved into every available resource, training, workshop, and therapy available, and treated Bessel Van Der Kolk’s The Body Keeps the Score as my bible.

This knowledge empowered me to share emotional regulation techniques with others, including in schools and prisons. I saw reflections of my own struggles in the incarcerated individuals—stripped of their humanity yet resilient and capable of remarkable transformations.

I shared my knowledge with law enforcement agencies, veterans, and women survivors of sexual trafficking, and volunteered at a hospice, assisting those transitioning to their next life chapter. I visited every homeless shelter in my hometown for years, and extended my service to the most vulnerable in our society.

My journey over the years led me to become a crisis counselor, peer support specialist, and mental health advocate. In 2021, I founded an online school that offers trauma-informed practices, such as yoga and mindfulness, to those interested in helping others in our communities who are struggling.

It is true what they say about becoming a resilient being after difficult life experiences. What is also true is that you develop an endless sense of compassion for anyone suffering, and your life becomes more purposeful, more peaceful.

When a friend called me a few weeks ago to let me know that an anonymous person had come forward and made the first legal accusation of child abuse against this person, I felt empowered and, in a way, responsible to take action.

I never felt strong enough to tell my story, but now I understand that there will never be a perfect time for stories like this to be shared. If we don’t speak out, other children and youth will continue to experience the same or worse.

For the first time, I feel the courage needed to hold this person accountable while speaking up for those who lack support, resources, or simply can’t conceive nor imagine a future without the tyranny of sexual abuse.

To those of you in similar situations, speak up, ask for help. There is a way out.


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