Kathy Picard | Sexual Abuse Survivor Coach and Advocate
You Are Not Alone
I vividly remember how much I just wanted to feel normal. When I was in school, I signed up for “normal” activities, and did all the “normal” things other kids my age did. But as normal as I might have appeared on the outside, I definitely didn’t feel normal on the inside.
I even tried to disclose to a family member once, but all she said was, “Shhh… we don’t talk about things like this.”
After that, I just believed that what was happening to me was normal too, even though it didn’t feel right.
I Know What It’s Like Because I’ve Been There
The thing about sexual abuse is that even though it happens to a lot of people, there are no set remedies for getting over it… no “one size fits all” cure. Each of us has our own reaction to it, and that’s one of the reasons telling and talking about it is so hard. It’s not like talking about how you fell off your bike going too fast, or asking for help when you twist an ankle or break a leg. Injuries like that might be physically painful, but you know you can get help.
Start talking about sexual abuse though, and people will look at you… at your face… at your expression. Or worse, they look away.
Believe me, I’ve witnessed just about every reaction someone can have when they hear about someone being sexually abused. That’s one of the reasons for this website. I wanted people who have been sexually abused to have a safe place to visit online while they’re trying to decide what to do next. But I have to be clear about one thing up front. I’m not a psychiatrist, psychologist, or a mental health counselor. I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse who’s made helping my fellow survivors take charge of their lives, and advocating for sexual abuse education to keep our children safe, my life’s work.
If You’re in Trouble/Crisis
First, if you’re in a crisis situation or in danger, take action. If you need to, go to the hospital, an emergency room, or the police. If you need to talk to someone immediately, you can call any one of these numbers and have someone to talk to right now:
National Hotline for Sexual Assault: 1-800-656-HOPE
Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-792-5200
National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-Child
YWCA-24 Hour Abuse and Rape Crisis Hotline: Toll Free 1-800-796-8711
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
Suicide Hotline: 1-800-Suicide (784-2433)
Second, there’s something very important that I want you to understand right up front. You matter. I understand that you might still be under the influence of a person (or people) who would like you to believe you don’t, but that’s the game abusers play. They want you to believe that you don’t matter and that no one will care or believe you. Those are lies. It doesn’t matter how many times you hear the words either. They are still lies. The absolute truth is that you matter. You, and your life, matter.
What I Can Help You With
The reason I’m here is because I know how hard it is to find the courage to have those first disclosure conversations. It’s hard to decide who you should talk to first too. Do you start with family and friends? Or should you go straight to a mental health worker—or maybe the police?
And even when you do get the professional help you need, there are still times when you just want to talk to someone who’s been there—someone you don’t have to explain everything to. There’s just something comforting and reassuring about talking to someone who understands without you having to explain.
Talking with me is like having your very own Sexual Abuse Survivor Coach. As I said, I’m a survivor. I’m not a therapist, and that means that I’m not going to try to get inside your head.
Like a coach, my goals are to help you think about your choices as you move forward, to provide you with a sounding board for plans and ideas, and to remind you that you have choices, that your life matters, and that you have a right to be happy. But I can just listen too. I’ve lived your life, and that means you won’t have to keep repeating yourself when you’re talking to me. You won’t have to explain either.
Change Your Story, Change Your World
There’s no reason to wait to start creating your new story. It’s yours to create, and you can start whether you have or haven’t disclosed too. And the truth is that if you’ve read this far, then you’re already thinking about what it might be like to feel and think differently about yourself and your life. Maybe it’s time to take another step forward by having a conversation with me.
For Friends and Families
There are few things as challenging as figuring out how to support the people we care about when sexual abuse is revealed or discovered. If someone you care about is struggling with sexual abuse, we can have a conversation about the specifics of your situation so you will have a better understanding of how you can help.
Kathy Picard | Sexual Abuse Survivor, Coach, and Advocate
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 411, Ludlow, MA 01056