Saturday, August 26, 2006

I Prevail

If you’ve been reading for a while you know that I am an incest and rape survivor. This isn’t something I shout from the rooftops, but I am not ashamed or embarrassed to tell people my story, and when the situation is right, I do. I’ve been reading Angela Shelton’s blog for a while now. If you don’t know who she is, here’s part of your biography from her site:

"At the age of twenty-seven, writer and actress, Angela Shelton, who had already received accolades for her previous movie, Tumbleweeds, set out to create a documentary during the Writer's Strike. Her goal was to survey women in America by interviewing the women who shared her name. She threw a party to raise funds and convinced a crew of four to go on the road for 60 days in a rented motor home.

As Angela started interviewing other Angela Sheltons she found that 70% had been victims of rape, childhood sexual assault and/or domestic violence. This surprising journey also led Angela to confront her own abusive past and her pedophile father on Father's Day. The multi-award winning documentary Searching for Angela Shelton has started a grassroots movement of healing for survivors of abuse of all genders."

This should be shocking: 70% of this random selection of women had been sexually assaulted. Unfortunately, it is not, at least, not to me. Too often when I tell my story, the person either tells me they were also victimized, or at the very least, they know someone who was.

Yesterday I watched the video Angela recently posted on her site of a speaking engagement at NC State University. For a half hour I laughed and cried while she told her story and invited a woman from the audience to tell hers. I highly recommend watching it even if you aren’t an incest or rape survivor. She promotes some very important concepts that we could all use.

You can’t tell just by looking at someone what their background is. If you run into someone who is angry and hateful, they are probably fearful and hurting – show them some love.

Deal with your own stuff and don’t “litter” the world with it.

Tell your story.

Stop hurting yourself. I often ignore the most basic signals my body gives me – I’m hungry – I’m thirsty – I have to pee. Somehow whatever I am doing is more important than taking care of my own needs. I never resorted to cutting or burning, but I’ve been a life-long nail bitter, which is just a more acceptable form of self-mutilation. I’m a lot better than I used to be but I still fidget with my cuticles and often draw blood. I can’t count the times I’ve lain in bed trying to fall asleep while my fingers throbbed, my body trying to heal itself by pushing extra blood to the damaged tissue.

Don’t carry about anger, get it out (in a controlled and safe environment).

If the people who hurt you deny it or it’s affects, you will never be able to change them. Make peace with your relationship with him/her/them and find people who are healing.

Finally, she says -- don’t just survive, prevail.

Photo by Dan Beigel
The Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Foundation, Inc.
Annapolis, Maryland


  1. Wonderful, amazing tips. And like you said, I suppose in some way they apply to all of us - whether our issues are small or large, barely hurtful or hugely life-changing. -K

  2. You can’t tell just by looking at someone what their background is. If you run into someone who is angry and hateful, they are probably fearful and hurting – show them some love.

    Ah, yes. That's the open and compassionate heart that gets developed after some suffering. I just bought one of Pema Chodron's books. I'm not a Buddhist, but she talks a lot about the open heart, something from which any of us could benefit, I think.

    Prevail. That's a good thing.
    The less I am "hooked", the more free I am.

    I still fall asleep some nights amazed at being safe and happy and loved.

    Pax. Kimberly

  3. Wow! You've been through so many painful experiences, yet you're brave enough and strong enough to share them with the world, so that others might benefit and learn how to cope. I admire you so much for pushing past the pain and moving on with your life. That documentary is quite amazing - thanks for the link.

  4. "Don't just survive, prevail." Yep, I like that, too. I asked myself about a year ago if I was satisfied with simply being a survivor instead of a victim (a huge accomplishment in itself for anyone). I decided I wanted more out of life than merely to survive. That's why I started Survivors Can Thrive! I know I'm slow, but I finally got a link up to you on my sidebar. I hope that's okay with you.

  5. I'd heard about this movie and project and remember being amazed. I think it's really powerful.

    The concepts she puts forward are great for all of us to keep in mind.

    Off to watch the video. Thanks for the link.

  6. Dear Donna, thanks so much for that. I just watched the video and I'm shaken.

    And the concept of not littering is the key to so much in life...