Kathy, 58

Kathy

Source: Courtesy of the Women’s Prison Association

Where I’m from: Queens, New York.

What specific experience triggered your trauma?: I was raped at age 9 by a family member.  Everyone thought he was the “good uncle.”  He wasn’t.

When did you become aware that you were suffering from trauma?: I started using drugs as a teenager to numb the pain.  I hid it for a long time.

Have you spoken to a professional about your experience? If so, has it helped you find a way to cope with what happened? If not, do you believe medical attention unnecessary or is there a particular reason that is holding you back?: I speak to a professional now, but at times it still haunts me and I still feel dirty, ashamed, and embarrassed.

Who/What do/did you turn to in moments when you are triggered or find yourself in a negative headspace?: Sometimes God. Sometimes my girlfriends. Back then, sometimes I went back to drugs.

What do you do to celebrate yourself in spite of what you’ve been through?: I pray, I meditate, I cook great food. I take fun trips. Now, I talk about it constantly to free myself from it.

Do you feel there is enough awareness around trauma?: No, we need more exposure! Therapy is so important.  We need it individually, we need it in groups, and we need to not stigmatize it.

What do you want people to know about you as a survivor of trauma?: If you seek professional help, it starts to get a little easier. Find some peace within yourself. Free yourself.  It will help you move on.  I feel beautiful now – and that was a long time coming.  I got to the truth of the matter and dug deep to save myself from being so stagnated.  I’m grateful that my heart and mind are in a much better place now.

What would be the one word that describes you as a survivor of trauma?: Free.

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