My Healing Journey- by Devona Bradford, CSVANW Sexual Assault Coordinator
7 years ago I was sitting in my office, I just started a new job and was getting to know my new work partner. We would have daily conversations about our families and exchange our stories. During one of these conversations she shared an experience of child sexual abuse. A few days went by after that conversation and I started getting flashbacks of the abuse I went through as a child. I started asking my mom questions about how old I was when we lived in a certain house, she said 3 or 4. I realized that conversation with my new coworker triggered all the painful, shameful memories I tucked away. Soo deep that I didn’t think about it once before then. As the days went on the flashbacks continued. They were very intense! I could see myself in the room where the abuse took place, down to smell, the position of the furniture and the sunlight that came in through the window of the dark room. I didn’t realize at the time that this was the start to my healing journey. The next few months we would continue to have these kind of conversations, I needed help processing all of my feelings. The shame, the guilt then the anger. At one point I was so angry that I wanted to “out” him and tell our community what he did to me. But, I didn’t. As I learned more and more about trauma, the cycle of generational trauma and the unhealed wounds our communities still face today, I began to feel compassion for him. I was learning to understand what “hurt people, hurt people” really meant. It was interesting to know that while I was learning and doing this self-work, I was also doing this same work with community. Helping women understand the cycle of trauma and supporting them through their own healing journeys. Today I work with our statewide domestic violence and sexual violence coalition as a Sexual Assault Project Coordinator. My passion for this work comes from own experience as a survivor and as a parent. I am breaking the cycle of this abuse by teaching my children about their bodies, about “good touch, bad touch” and how to use their voice to speak up for what’s right and against what’s wrong – issues like sexual violence, rape culture and bullying. This healing journey has been a difficult one but I am grateful for it. I no longer feel the guilt, shame and isolation. I feel strong when speaking up against sexual violence and supporting our relatives and communities in breaking the cycle.
To learn more about sexual assault awareness month, and the #SAAM activities that are happening around the state, be sure to check out our website!