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  • Dana Arcuri

I Believe You: Raising Awareness about the #MeToo Movement

Updated: Dec 7, 2022


It was not until the #MeToo movement in 2017 when I mustered the courage to confront the perpetrators evil actions. Not just one sexual predator. There were three different people who sexually abused me at three totally different times in my life.


It took me 50+ years to face it head on. To process what happened. To face the malicious violations. To find the strength to do the grief and trauma recovery work in effort to heal.


To understand that each abuser planned their covert sexual assaults. In two of the cases, I was a child. The third sexual abuse was when I was in my forties. It was by a relative who I will call Bruce. (Names are changed for confidentiality and privacy purposes.)


I have no doubt in my mind, it wasn't a random act of violence. Rather, what Bruce did was premeditated rape. He knew that I was alone at my mother's house and he intentionally overstepped my healthy boundaries. There was NO consent.


Bravely, in 2017 I broke the silence. I boldly shared the truth. I empowered myself to create healthy boundaries. I became a badass. I no longer tolerated being shamed, blamed, and manipulated. The toxic shame is not for me to carry. According to credible research, at least 90% of sexual offenders know their victims. They handpicked the person who they harmed. It could be their neighbor, parent, sibling, relative, intimate partner, spouse, ex-partner, a co-worker, clergy, doctor, someone from their college, or another person.


Sexual abuse, whether it's by a person you know or a stranger, it is never the fault of the victim. Only the predators are responsible. They should be legally held accountable for their crimes.


Due to what had transpired, especially with my sister's spouse, I chose to go no contact with my birth family and relatives. It was not a random or impulsive decision. Rather, it was one that I wrestled with for many years. Once I realized that my own mother, sisters, and relatives didn't value me, respect me, love me, or care about me, I chose to cut the ties permanently.


Family estrangement doesn't mean we no longer think of them or that we stopped loving them. For each of us, it can be very unique. Estranging from our family members can mean that we love ourselves enough to weed out toxic relationships that deeply hurt us. Essentially, this is what is best for me, for my health, and for my healing journey.


In June 2019, I was officially diagnosed with compounded trauma and complex PTSD. My therapist confirmed that my compounded trauma was from my child neglect and abuse, family dysfunction, violence, two cases of statutory rape, sexual assault by Bruce, sibling abuse, and narcissistic abuse by my mother.


Initially, when I was first diagnosed with C-PTSD, I felt relieved. A part of me already knew by my gut instinct that I had serious trauma. It validates what I've endured for over five decades.


According to the website, TraumaDissociation.com, "Complex Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is a disorder that may develop following exposure to an event or series of events of an extreme and prolonged or repetitive nature that is experienced as extremely threatening or horrific and from which escape is difficult or impossible. Complex Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is the result of multiple traumatic events occurring over a period of time, often referred to as 'complex trauma.' Causes include multiple incidents of child abuse, particularly child physical abuse and child sexual abuse, prolonged domestic violence, concentration camp experiences, torture, slavery, and genocide campaigns."


As I work through my compounded trauma and Complex PTSD, it's felt like a fierce tsunami uprooting my life. I've realized how much I've lost and suffered. I clearly see that those who betrayed me most certainly don't genuinely care about me, nor love me. Simply stated, love and abuse cannot coexist. They are the complete opposite.


What I've come to understand is that one sin, one crime, and one evil act of violence has had a ripple effect. It's impacted my physical body, brain health, emotional health, my marriage, my parenting and my children, my ability to work and function daily, my finances, and so much more.


The Aftermath of Sexual Assault


The aftermath of sexual assault is not a one-time event. Instead, sexual violence is a lifetime of trauma. It involves intense anguish, pain, and suffering. I learned that it isn't beneficial for me to keep family secrets.


Suppressing and repressing traumatic memories is a common trauma response. Yet, it is a maladaptive coping mechanism that keeps sexual abuse survivors stuck and unhealed. This is why I will never again permit anyone to bully me into silence. My trauma recovery requires me to speak up, to tell the truth, and to support other sexual abuse survivors.


"As long as you keep secrets and suppress information, you are fundamentally at war with yourself. ~ Bessel van der Kolk


When I connected all the dots to Bruce's assault, I've discovered that it's had a catastrophic effect on me. Due to Bruce's act of sexual violence, here's the ripple effect of what it led to:


  • A low lumbar injury

  • Herniated discs

  • Advanced Degenerative Disc Disease

  • Hospitalization for Prednisone side effects

  • Chronic debilitating pain

  • Permanent disability (SSD)

  • Job loss

  • Loss of income

  • Primary fibromyalgia

  • Medical injuries from Cymbalta & Ativan

  • Intense withdrawals from Cymbalta & Ativan

  • Two more admissions into the hospital

  • Post-acute-withdrawal syndrome (PAWS)

  • Countless years of physical suffering, emotional anguish, & recovering

  • Diagnosed with Compounded Trauma

  • Diagnosed with Complex PTSD

  • Sibling abuse

  • Narcissistic abuse

  • Family estrangement

  • Financial abuse by my sisters & stepsisters

It's been over 16 years of ongoing challenges with my health. Sixteen years of my healing journey. I've fought for my life. I have battled for my body, mind, and trauma recovery. If there's nothing else that I've learned about myself during my sexual assault aftermath it’s this: I am not a victim. I am a courageous survivor who is now thriving.


I have empowered myself to regain 80% of my health. Was it hard? Absolutely. It was a hellish ordeal. Despite how traumatic, stressful, and dreadful it's been, I am worth fighting for. My life matters. My health and healing are my top priority.


Another amazing revelation for me is seeing that I've been transformed. I have invested in my recovery process and well-being. I have educated myself and gained wisdom about trauma, the trauma response, and holistic modalities to calm my central nervous system.


I have lived and learned valuable lessons. I have taken personal ownership of my life. I am responsible for my words, actions, and behaviors. Most importantly, I am the author of my own life. I will heal on my own terms.


I've grown as a person, gained insight about pharmaceutical drugs, and I've learned about a holistic approach to healing trauma. I have stood up for myself. I have found my voice. I have spoken up. I have openly shared plenty of my true stories on my YouTube channel, Twitter, and in my six books.


I am not the person who I had used to be. As we draw near to the end of 2022, I am closing out some chapters in my life that no longer align to me and my energy. I will no longer be a people-pleaser. I will not keep the peace if it causes me to lose my own peace of mind. I will not participate in unhealthy dynamics with toxic, abusive people.


I have stepped outside my comfort zone in which I am flourishing. It's empowering and liberating!


One day, it just clicks. You realize what's important and what isn't. You learn to care less about what other people think of you and more about what you think of yourself. You realize how far you've come and you remember when you thought things were such a mess that you would never recover. And you smile. You smile because you are truly proud of yourself and the person you've fought to become.


My healing journey has led me to become a voice for the voiceless. To give hope to the hopeless. To advocate on behalf of others who are survivors of sexual assault, child abuse, sibling abuse, narcissistic abuse, a toxic family system, C-PTSD, and trauma.


The three small words that can help sexual abuse survivors to heal:

  1. I see you.

  2. I believe you.

  3. I support you.

There is a high price to pay for breaking the silence. There is a high price to pay for truth telling. There is a high price to pay for setting boundaries. There is a high price to pay for naming the abusers. I have no regrets. Exposing the abuse was the key to my recovery.


We each have a story. We each deserve to heal. Today, may this inspire you to bravely raise your own voice. To not permit others to silence or shame you. And to create healthy boundaries.


Lastly, please understand that if you are a survivor of sexual assault or any form of abuse, you didn't do anything wrong. It has nothing to do with what you wore, drank, said, or where you were at. If you didn't give consent, it is sexual abuse.


May you release the chains of shame and guilt. It's not yours to carry. Extend to yourself compassion, grace, mercy, and love.


My friend, it's time for you to be free. To be free from the heavy burdens weighing you down. Are you ready to release and heal your wounds of trauma?


Dear Survivor, you are not alone in your trauma recovery. You are so worthy of processing your sexual abuse and traumatic events in a nonjudgmental way.


If you need emotional support, I am a Certified Trauma Recovery Coach who offers private coaching to men and women trauma survivors. I provide my clients with voice and choice in their trauma recovery.


This means they are seen, heard, validated, and their boundaries respected. I offer nonjudgmental mental health support to each client. Feel free to reach out to me here on my website to get started in Certified Trauma Recovery Coaching.


Note: This blog is from an excerpt in my fifth book, Soul Cry: Releasing & Healing the Wounds of Trauma. It's available on Amazon in print and an eBook.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B085X3Z79S/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vp


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