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Victim of a Senseless Crime: Part 6
© by Jennifer McLeod writing as jenjen0703, all rights reserved.
New Life As a Survivor
Being stuck in a homeless shelter is not exactly where I wanted to be; however, I was grateful for a place to stay. Each new day was a struggle, and it took every ounce of energy I had not to go back to my husband. I knew if I went back that I would not be able to move forward with my life.
I had a tremendous amount of time on my hand and committed myself to attending AA meetings regularly. I decided to try the suggestions recommended at the tables: to attend 90 meeting in 90 days. During this time, I made new friends and began enjoying the meetings and my life in recovery. This signified a major turning point in my life. AA helped me to let go of some of my past pain from the abuse I had went through. AA also helped to steer me back into a relationship with my Higher Power. Recovery became my way of life, and I cherished my friendships with others in recovery. One thing that needs to be understood is that the changes that took place in my life did not happen overnight. I was not a brand new person after I started attending AA. What transpired from this journey was a more confident woman, who was sober and clean and learning how to be herself and live in her own skin. I do not want to dig into AA at this time, but touch on it briefly because I give the AA program a great deal of credit for where I am today. Also, a significant amount of alcoholics and addicts are sexual abuse victims, especially the females.
I cannot say there has not been relapses in my recovery. I cannot say that I have not struggled through tragedy. I lost many friends to addiction and gained even more that have been solid friendships throughout the last 11 years. I finally had the sense of family I had not had most of my life, and a place I could go and totally be myself, without judgment and without rejection. I did not have to be afraid to talk about my past anymore.
Growth in Abundance
Having learned to be comfortable in my own skin and how to be honest with myself and others, life improved greatly. I learned how to handle life on life's terms without drinking my way through it. I went on to participate in a training to be a sexual abuse victim's advocate for organization that provides my therapy. I do not work as an advocate currently, but I do use that information to help others. I interact with many children in different areas of my life, and I talk to children about sexual abuse. I give them the facts and teach them self-defense techniques in case they find themselves in a dangerous situation. We role play various scenarios because I want them to feel confident as much as they do fear, so they have the mental ability to fight back against abuse of any kind.
Life has not been easy, but it is better than it was when I was drinking it away. I find great satisfaction in helping others and obtain a sense of a natural high when I do help someone. My help for others does not just come in the form of advocating against sexual abuse. I also rescue dogs, help people who are broke down on the side of the road, and offer rides to people who appear to be struggling walking down the road. I have little to offer anyone except my time. I have not been very successful in relationships with significant others. I do not know if it is because my past limits me or if it is because I am strong and independent and it intimidates some men. Either way, it does not matter because I am happy and believe that God will bring what I need into my life when He feels I am ready for it.
In closing this 6-part series, I hope for all readers to not be afraid to talk to their children about sexual abuse. Keep an eye on who you have your children around, including the people you think you know. Most sexual abuse happens between acquaintances than it does strangers, and children need to be taught what to look for and how to be prepared.
Life is going well for me today. I am enrolled in college full-time and am a sophomore studying Information Technology. I hope, in the future, to build a website to help catch predators and get them off the street. I tell myself every day that I have a choice to be a victim or a survivor. I choose to survive because my life is not over, and the sky is the limit for my life and the lives of my children.