meet little one

This blog post actually started as a photography project. I had visions of survivors being photographed exhibiting the leftover behaviors of their trauma; addictions, self abuse, et cetera. However, something interesting happened when I started asking these brave women to be a part of my project. They all refused, graciously, but refused nonetheless.

No one wanted their image to be associated with their trauma. It was very telling. Silence is a way of many survivors to keep the silence tucked away. I thought of doing self-portraits of some of the shadows of abuse that live within me but it felt really vulnerable and kind of narcissistic.  I guess the photo project was a failure. The process was not. It lit a fire within me to share my story and break the silence. Breaking this silence is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Thank you for standing beside me during this healing milestone!

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I want to introduce you to Little One. She’s a spunky, bright, funny, loving little girl. She tends to be a perfectionist, she worries too much about what other people think of her, and she is brave. So.Very.Brave. She is a mastermind of pretending that her life is okay.

Things are very much NOT okay for Little One.  Her first memories involve being French kissed by an adult man. They include touching not meant for little girls. She goes to bed at night terrified. She wraps herself up in her sheets and then piles on a comforter so that she is not easy to get to.  Little One pretends she’s sleeping when she’s very awake. She leaves her body in those moments, while also trying to keep her breathing even so there is no confrontation.

To the outside world she is a typical 3rd grader. She wants to impress her teacher, she enters the talented and gifted program, she loves running. Then she goes home to a world that is not comparable to the rest of her reality. She goes to bed with a pit in her stomach, her soul feeling so guilty and full of evil. Here’s that so very brave part. After another failed attempt at keeping herself safe, her intuition screams inside her to do something and her heart is breaking for what it might mean.

She hears a moment when she knows she is safe. She gets up out of bed, dizzy with emotions and anxiety about what is going to happen next. She forces the evil and blackness and guilt and shame out of her heart and forms them in to words. She’s told to go back to bed. Moments later, amongst tears, apologies, and denial, she is told she must be dreaming all of what she has known to be true. The next morning she is told not to tell anyone. It’s unclear whether she was told everyone would be taken away from each other or if she just knew that would happen.

Little One soldiers on; continuing to be a good student, decent athlete, and mastermind of pretending her life is okay. Evil continues, though less obvious and less often than before. Little One’s only hope is that, though it did not end for her, it would never start for anyone else. Little One put all the evil in a box and shoved it clear to the back of her mind. She hid it under anxiety, perfectionism, eating disorders, and other coping skills she learned.

 

Meet Little One

 

Oh yes, some of you might recognize her! She lived a very different life then what you might have thought when you knew her.

You see, Little One tried to make falsehoods her reality. She believed she was dreaming. She believed she was a drama queen and she believed that she must be crazy. For years she thought she was a terrible, horrible person for even dreaming those awful things. She believed for so long that something was wrong with her.

Little One was me. Shadows of Little One still live within me. I’m working to heal her because she was never healed. It is amazing when you start to learn about survivors of childhood trauma, how often they think something is wrong with them. In reality, that inner child, whom we all have as humans, was never able to grow, progress, hit milestones like other children. It was her perpetrators who were wrong.

Five years ago I learned that I was not dreaming and that, unfortunately, I did not stop the abuse for others. Two years ago I finally started therapy for my childhood trauma. All these years I’ve thought I was crazy but through talking it out I’ve learned about Little One. Little One is the name some professionals give to your inner child. We all have one. If you grew up in a loving, safe home your Little One is probably pretty quiet because there is peace and security and you were able to hit all those emotional milestones you were supposed to. When you grow up in trauma and chaos, you aren’t allowed to grow as a typical child and there are pieces of you that are stunted in those moments. While your intelligence, mind and physical growth may all be right where it should be, there are pieces of emotional growth that just kind of freeze. I realized my Little One was still trying to understand and figure out what reality was. I know, it sounds a little “out there” so let me give you some concrete examples.

-For most of my life I’ve been terrified of the paranormal being in my room. I would literally pass out in fear.  That is totally over. I’ve learned it was a way for 3rd grade me to cope with the fact that these terrible things were happening to me, yet no one accepted responsibility for them. Someone had to be doing those things but with my reality being questioned, my mind made up the least traumatic story.

-Many survivors have a drug of choice. Mine happens to be food.  Yeah, yeah big surprise, huh? I remember taking food in my room when I as young as five. I’d save it for later so I could just be alone with it and be at peace. Throughout my life I’ve struggled with anorexia, bulimia and compulsive overeating. This is the vice, the coping mechanism, that I’m working hard to overcome (thank you Emily Program!) but it is a long, hard battle.

-I don’t get to be naïve enough to think the bad guy or pedophile is the creepy man on the corner. He could be anywhere. I have to consciously work at not allowing my fears to taint my children’s experience of the world. I, thankfully, have made leaps and bounds of progress in this area.

I’m in group therapy for survivors of childhood trauma. It has been the most amazing experience to see how similar our stories are and that we have reacted in a very normal way to something that is very much NOT normal. It’s a safe environment to discuss how Little Ones still affect our lives. I’m blessed to know how much I have healed in the past couple of years. The blessing in all this is that I’m so clear about what my reality is, what I want for my children and their lives, and who I am as a person. It is an incredible feeling to come out the other side of something so horrific, and to have such confidence about who I really am. I always allowed others to define who I was. I’m happy to say I do that for myself now.

So, what’s the point of this coming out story? Why share something so intimate with the world? The point is this: 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused by the time they are 18. This figure is cited even higher by some organizations. Some sources even estimate that as many of 90% of that abuse is by people the children know.

Can we just pause for a moment and reflect on that number? 1 in 4 girls, 1 in 6 boys. If this were a disease it would be called an epidemic. We would have institutions, 5ks, bumper stickers and pins aimed at raising money to find a cure or raise awareness.

Instead, in most cases, we find silence. We find it because it’s shameful, because we don’t want to talk to our children about these kinds of dangers and because victims don’t feel safe sharing their story.  For a child to have to reconcile that someone who should be loving and protecting them is doing something so evil is a nearly impossible task. So many adults are suffering with the sins committed against them and are too afraid to seek help.

There are going to be a lot of people that are very upset that I’m sharing this. They are going to say I’m doing this for attention or because I’m angry or spiteful. That’s okay because I know my truth. My truth is that I cannot remain silent and protect a pedophile and possibly endanger other children. My truth is that it is not my job to keep this secret or protect others from this story. My truth is that I have already helped other survivors use their voice to heal. My truth is knowing that the longer we pretend this isn’t happening and the longer we let it remain our dirty little secret, at least 25% of our girls will be victimized. Until this epidemic that is sweeping our country is confronted, in the most vocal and proactive way, Little Ones everywhere will reside unhealed in survivors. The coping mechanisms that worked for Little One are almost always destructive to the adult that harbors her.

My truth is that for the first time in my life I feel free of Little One’s anxiety, shame, guilt, fear, and feelings of being unsafe. For the first time I can look at that picture of Little One, the child that I was once and say, “You did good, girl. Look at where we are now.” I wish that upon EVERY survivor.

For more information about protecting the children in your lives please visit the “What You Can Do” page

Feel free to comment and share your opinion, story or feelings. If you would like to remain anonymous, make up a name and email address. They really are only there to safeguard against spammers.


Comments

meet little one — 33 Comments

  1. I feel great sorrow for your abuser- a sick man who denies his illness and refuses to seek help. He shattered your sense of safety and took away the carefree childhood all are entitled to. He gets my disgust.
    But the most prevalent emotion I feel on your behalf is the rage and fury I feel towards your abuser’s protector- the person who was so selfish and terrified of shattering her own world that she failed you and those who came after you. A person who literally left you completely alone, who let you feel the blame and the shame so she didn’t have to. That person gets my hate.
    You get my love. And my absolute unwavering support. And my deep feelings of pride. And my awe that I’m lucky enough to be considered your family.

  2. Way to go sis! I’m sure that this wasnt easy to post but I’m so glad you did. You made some very valid points, it is so sad this is such a hush hush issue. Good for you for “shouting from the rooftops.” love you lots! Your amazing!

  3. Words fail me, and that doesn’t happen much.

    I’ve known your story for a while–known about the horrors your Little One survived–and so while reading this, I wasn’t feeling shock. Fury and sorrow, absolutely yes. But mostly I was just feeling profound gratitude for who you are: my daughter and children everywhere are safer because of you.

  4. Thank you Jennifer for posting your blog post.I’m at a loss for words and so full of things to say at the same time. I want to cry for you. I’m so happy you’ve come so far. I still remember your message to our group a little over a year ago. I’ve been cheering for you since.

    I’m guilty of still living in silence. In fact, I don’t even want to like your post on fb for fear my mom will ask. My brother randomly found my ex step dad on the [state removed to protect identity] predator list. Good news is someone spoke up. Bad news is it wasn’t me and I wasn’t the only victim. From what I can tell it was many years before he married my mom. My brother has never asked. I don’t know if he told my mom but she’s never asked. She would never forgive herself for marrying a man that made her think was a good man when he was a creep all along.

    Keep fighting Jennifer. You are doing a great job!

  5. I can’t imagine the courage it took to survive such a childhood and the bravery it takes to share your story. You are an amazing, talented person who I understand is also a great mother and friend. You should be extremely proud of the of the obstacles you have overcome and the person you have become.

  6. You’re incredbily brave, friend. Im so proud to know you and your story of coming to victory over this evil. You are inspirational to not only victims but us moms who are proactive about ours childrens’ care. This does need to be talked about with our kids when they can understand some things. I will be checking out the website you gave. I hope I can always maintain an open, trusting line of communication with my kids to come to me. Keep up your hard work. Youre doing Kingdom Work, saving despirate souls from captive evil. May Gods blessings rain down on you.

  7. I have no words for this. This was a beautifully told story of a real tragedy. I am so sorry this happened to you but that you’re finding a way to heal. Good vibes to you.

  8. Jennifer- your healing is in my prayers. You are so strong and an amazing woman! Thank you for speaking up to help others and yourself! It is so incredibly brave of you that I am in awe and you have brought me to tears. When I started reading, I didn’t want to continue cause it made me feel so sick inside but I knew how I was feeling was nothing compared to how Little One felt on those nights so on I read as I know you and I know you WILL and HAVE made a difference! Your story will help many more speak out and knowledge IS Power…keep on keeping on. You are in my heart and prayers everyday!
    Kim

  9. Can’t express enough how proud this makes me. Proud that you are confident enough now in yourself, your views, and your truth to shout it out loud. Proud that you don’t care what others think, you know what you’re doing is right.
    It’s insane that in cases like this the child is often asked to go about his/her daily life, confronted nearly every waking hour by the individual who abused them. Would we ask or demand the same of a rape survivor? The brothers and sisters of somebody who was murdered? Why do families especially insist that things like this be swept under the rug and put this burden on the Little Ones in our society? We as adults should be rising up, expecting more not just from our friends and neighbors, but from our extended family as well.

    I hope that your words light fire under those who have suffered to ask the questions to those in their life making them feel silenced – why do you feel this is a victimless crime? Why am I asked to face my abuser day after relentless day and expected to be fine with it?

    I can only imagine what would become of such individuals if our society were less civilized. Victimizing anybody is bad enough. Victimizing somebody who cannot defend, speak, or stand up for themselves can NOT be ignored and certainly cannot go unpunished.

    Stop the ignorance. Recognize the problem. Do something.

    Thank you again. Fight on!

  10. Jen, your coment “For a child to have to reconcile that someone who should be loving and protecting them is doing something so evil is a nearly impossible task” is profound, so daunting, so right on. Keep working on healing; it’s a long road, but well worth the journey. Along the way, you’re going to save a few other souls too. God Bless!

  11. There is no doubt that it takes a deep strength to confront one’s experiences of abuse and seek help for healing, but it takes an entirely different and rare form of bravery to share these memories with others and expose the ugly effects of such personal trauma. I can’t thank you enough for your willingness to share your story with the world and demonstrate to other Little One’s that they are not alone. And, there is indeed, hope for healing. I pray that your journey continues to leave you even more empowered, and I am confident that your efforts to help others break their silence will be more successful than you can even imagine.
    Keep doing what you’re doing, and know that you are a true inspiration!

  12. I can’t thank you enough for sharing your story. I’ve already shared on my facebook page and every opportunity I get, I’m going to continue to share. What a sick world we live in when a issue that is so prevalent just continues to get swept under the rug. It sickens me beyond measure. You’ve given me the courage to speak out about my own experience and even if these disgusting people aren’t put in jail at least speaking out free’s our own minds!

    Again, thank you and God bless!

  13. Thank you for your story. I have been married for 2 years and never told my husband when I was taken advantage of as a child. I have never told anyone. I told him last night after I read your story. I too, thought maybe it never really happened, maybe I was crazy or it was a dream.

    Your story was shared with me by a friend, and I didn’t go into reading it, thinking, “I wonder how I relate to this”. I forgot about what happened to me. I pushed it back as far as a could. I remembered last night, and cried. Cried that I was so ashamed and embarrassed, when I did nothing wrong.

    Thank you for being so strong and sharing your story.

  14. Thank you for having the courage and strength to share your story. It is not easy. Hopefully it inspires those silent ones to truly understand that there are others that are feeling the same way and opportunities for support. I am guilty of trying to break the silence and then retreating further into my own mind. It’s hard and I congratulate you for making your way in your journey to recovery. *hugz* to you.

  15. You are so brave, so strong and so amazing, Jennifer. No Little One should ever have to endure what you endured. Not ever. I’m thankful you have taken the steps to heal and understand that you were and are not at fault for these horrendous acts. I echo Louisa’s words above: your abuser disgusts me but your abuser’s keeper earns my eternal distain.
    Thanks for your bravery.

  16. Thank you so much for sharing, your story has me in tears. I sincerely hope that this encourages others to share as well. So sorry your Little One had to go through this.

  17. Wow! You are so brave for sharing Little One’s story. I am so disgusted with the people who were so selfish to rob you of a safe childhood. Thank you for sharing the truth.

  18. Your story is heartbreaking and you are very brave to share it. Those statistics are just so wrong, no child should have to go through this. I hope your story inspires others to heal, too.

  19. Your words echo my own. It is extremely difficult to open up and talk about a hurt little one and is a painful path of recovery. I wish you strength and peace. I dont know you, but I am confident that you are an amazing mother! Having been through a similar path in life I know I am focused on protecting my sons and making sure they have the safety and security I (we) didnt and I know by the words you write that you are doing the same for your boys. Keep on with the healing process and always know that you did nothing wrong to have been put through this path in your life.

  20. Wow. This post must have been difficult to write, but I’m glad you did. I think we all need to have our eyes opened a little bit and find a way to help those who have been hurt. Thank you for sharing and God bless.

  21. Thanks for sharing your story, I to hope the best for you and yes, I agree we need to get everyone talking and make it stop for all the “little ones”.

  22. Thank you so much for writing this about your little one. She is so brave and true, and you are, too. My little girl is cheering her on! I wrote all about finding and healing my little one in The River of Forgetting–you might be interested in it.

  23. Jennifer, I am honestly at a loss for words. All I can think to say at this time is: Thank you for sharing. Thinking back at what you went though, anger is an understatement. “Little One” is not the only one who is brave. You are so brave for sharing your story.
    Again, Thank you.

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