The other day one of my friends on social media shared a 2014 video of a tearful young North Korean woman who delivered a compelling account of her perilous journey to what she thought was freedom in China. As they navigated by the night sky, Yeon-mi Park described how she felt that only the stars were with them. This is one of the feelings that oppressed or abused people deal with throughout their lives, because they have been separated from the harmony within that was meant to exist. In speaking out about the tragedy that she and others in her country have lived through, this brave young refugee exemplifies the need to talk about abusive experiences in order for self-healing to take place.
One thing that I’ve had to learn as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse is that I’ve had to deal with not only the self-destructive feelings in the aftermath of the abuse, but also with the physical repercussions of feeling isolated from everyone else in my life. My own experience, although not nearly as tragic as Yeon-mi’s, once brought me to the same place: looking up at the stars and wondering if anyone anywhere even cared about me.
One thing about keeping secrets is that, for the purpose of keeping someone else’s confidence, such promises ‘not to tell anyone’ are proper morals in our society. However, when someone has abused you and threatened you not to tell anyone, the corrosive nature of that twisted confidentiality gradually eats away at you from within. Too many people are walking around today, like I used to, with self-destructive tendencies because of the shameful secrets of victimization that have led to withdrawal, depression, self-medication and uncharacteristic behavior.
We survivors of abuse must speak out, because it’s the only way to stop the deterioration of our being and start the healing process. We did nothing wrong, but bear the shame and guilt of having been violated, often by the people we were supposed to have trusted most. Unless we break through the fear and finally tell a friend, family member or seek professional help, the hurt will keep festering away within. Not only does the aftermath of abuse cause emotional and mental difficulty and ongoing trauma to our bodies, it also impacts our spiritual selves in a vicious cycle of pernicious negativity. Fortunately I found a way to work within with my spirit, so that I was able to stop the cycle to regain my self-esteem, dignity and self-heal over time.
It’s clear that, no matter how difficult it is to come forward, we must speak out loudly against abuse and oppression, so that depravity and corruption of power can be exposed and curtailed. And equally as important, instead of being judgmental, we must listen to others and be understanding of their experience. Otherwise, at the planetary and personal levels, we could all be complicit in allowing such atrocities to continue to happen to the world’s children.
The next time you look up at the stars, realize that you’re not the only one who has gazed upon them either in wonderment or for solace – we are all stars in the mesh of humanity!
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