“My name is Suzanne Alden, and I am a survivor of child sexual abuse by my father, from the time I was a preschooler through age 12. The trauma and shame from these experiences was so deep and so complete that I no longer wanted to live, struggled to love myself, and battled with intimacy. Through over a decade of therapy and the loving support of family and friends, I finally arrived at a place at which I no longer needed substances or food or other “highs” to mask the pain from the abuse.
For those who are coming to this website feeling fear, depression, trauma, hopelessness, and shame, I say with 100% confidence that there is hope, that all of us have the capacity to work through the trauma we have experienced and to begin to live a joyful and full life. Healing is possible if we find the courage within to do what we need to do to seek and find it. If you are a survivor and you are struggling, you are not alone, just like I was not alone. None of us is alone. We are all part of a web of people who share the same feelings, the same shame, and the same possibilities for a life of happiness and worth. Working through our rape and sexual abuse experience requires two things: a long-term commitment to therapy with a skilled counselor, and disclosing what happened to people we can trust. It is when we tell that we validate what we have gone through and assert to the world that “we matter”.
I have learned many, many things from my experiences as a sexual abuse survivor. I imagine in the years ahead I will learn even more! I want to share with you what I have learned, to encourage you never to gift up on your path to healing, to never give up on yourself.
I have learned that I MATTER. My feelings, my needs, my desires, my trauma – it is important and significant and deserves my full attention. When I begin to act as if I matter, others begin to treat me that way, and I start surrounding myself with people who value me and all I bring to the world. When that little voice whispers, “Suzanne, you really don’t matter, you know that, don’t you?” I call it out for what it is – the voice of my abuser, trying to silence me, and the world, that would really rather prefer to ignore me.
I have learned that people will close their eyes to experiences that make them feel uncomfortable. When one of us somehow finds the courage to speak up and says “no more”, people will begin to listen (as they really have no choice).
I have learned that what happened to me is real and that I am telling the truth. No matter how hard someone tries to push it under the rug, deny it, or tell me I am “misinterpreting”, the abuse is real and its effects are lasting. Often the world tries to minimize the deep wounds of sexual abuse. (“Get over it!”) I say, “I will get over it in my own time and in my own way.” This begins by speaking the truth of what I have been through and shutting out those who try to shame me for speaking up.
I have learned that others who have been abused or raped deserve my support and validation. Because this world still shames survivors for what they never caused, it is up to me, other survivors, and those who love us to be conduits for acceptance and healing.
And finally, I have learned that my experiences have been a gift. This gift has taught me to put myself and my healing first. It has made me stop dead in my tracks and acknowledge that it is Suzanne’s right and responsibility to heal from this trauma and emerge on the other side even stronger than before. It has afforded me the opportunity to be a catalyst for change and for helping others through my work with other survivors. It has made me resourceful, a force to be reckoned with! Every day, this gift gives me yet another chance to be a “yes” instead of a “no”, a supportive heart instead of a judgmental one.
You are in my thoughts and prayers. May you have hope for a future full of life and love.”