I met Amitha at a reading of a beautiful compilation book called, Dear Sister, which is a book of letters from survivors of sexual abuse. There we met a woman who must have been in her late 30’s, who had also been sexually abused by her father and had never met another woman whom she knew had gone through father-to-daughter sexual abuse. It’s unfortunate that it took so long before she met someone who could relate to her and talk to her about their common trauma. That’s why I felt it was so important to have Amitha on KirstyTV, to share her story of sexual abuse and incest, so that other know they are not alone. To help erase the stigma around a common and tragic offense.
The Centers for Disease Control have known for a long time that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys report that they are sexually abused by the age of 18 in a national study that came out in the late 1990’s. That’s 20% of people! It’s shocking to know that they aren’t shouting this data from the rooftops with urgency, to help stop this abuse.
While performing on a theatre project that tells the true stories of sexual abuse survivors, Amitha found Dear Sister, the book.
Amitha shows me how to do a breathing exercise called 4-7-8 that helps her through the tough times. It’s a way to remind you that you are a person in a body, in the present, and helps you come back to the moment.
For someone who wants to have a sexual relationship after having endured sexual abuse, Amitha suggests being honest with your partner. “If you have someone who you’re ready to be in a relationship with, be honest with them because I think a lot of times, it can feel like our bodies are betraying us even when we love someone and feel safe with them and want to share that kind of intimacy. You never know how your body—especially early in your healing process—might react. As much as we don’t talk about rape and sexual assault, we also don’t talk about consent as much as a society. And we don’t talk about our birthright around pleasure and our own relationship to our bodies.”
A lot of people might want to go the other way—shut down, never want to have sex again, be too terrified to even want to be with another partner. I think it’s fantastic that Amitha took the partner out of the equation and just focused on herself for a time.
If you’ve been sexually abused, I hope that Amitha’s story spoke to you today. We have to be able to talk about these kinds of topics to erase the shame and stigma.
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