Warning: This post is discussing what we choose to do or choose not to do about the matter of childhood sexual abuse both here and abroad.
I was doing an assignment for my book writing with Hay House Writers Community. I had to go to a bookshop and explore the shelves of the “Memoir section” for which 2 books I’d like my own book to sit next to one day in a book shop.
I came across Nicky Mih’s book “Do What Matters – what leading a child protection organisation in Cambodia taught me about life and leadership”, at River Read bookshop in Noosa a few weekends back.
Do What Matters – you’ll find it by the bright yellow cover. Yellow symbolises ‘hope’ I believe. I hadn’t been to a bookshop in a while, and I never walk into that particular book shop usually. I was meant to pick it up.
Touching briefly on what Nicky’s work is about:
How many of us know or have heard about girls as young as 4 and 7 being stolen from their villages, and trafficked into the commercial sex industry in Cambodia?
That for the next 4 or so years, they are raped around 10 times a day, 7 days a week, and tortured if they don’t smile, when being raped? That’s before they’re discarded from the brothels, of no further use, back to their community.
Then back in their communities, given ‘they must have done something bad to have brought this upon themselves’ they are shunned, or possibly once again sold for sex by their parents or elders.
To avoid that, Nicky shares that the girls will pretend to have been away at their aunts in a distant village, for the past few years… and bury all that happened to them, so they can try to live a normal life.
Nicky’s organisation “Free To Shine” is focused on preventing the trafficking from ever happening in the first place.
I have included the link to her website at the end of this post. I saw too that you can also order her book “Do What Matters” there too.
We wouldn’t want any of our own children or grandchildren, any child in fact, to ever experience this kind of abuse. Yet we honestly all know it is happening outside of our field of vision.
How often, even in our own society, let alone abroad, do we do nothing? For reasons (excuses), that it’s not our place to do so, or we feel we can’t do much. Therefore we let that reason be the reason we do nothing at all.
As Nicky says in her first chapter, it made her realise how often she read books about other’s plights, and horrendous situations such as these, and she got this feeling she was being voyeuristic.
Because all she was doing was reading, then put the book down, and picked up the next, and the next…
She’s not alone, so many of us do just that. Even in the form of a novel, we come across this sort of content, for our own entertainment.
Nicky’s book is one that you’d wonder why you would choose not to read, to understand, and to do what you can to help.
Free-flowing tears aside, as you read some of the girls’ stories in the first few chapters, it’s a book about Nicky’s learnings that you can bring back and apply to your own world, your own mode of operation in life and in leadership.
I realised again, that we’re so fortunate to live as we do, in our first world countries.
Yet, even in our own homes, the silence about childhood sexual abuse is a common dark theme for many families, and many children.
Reading Nicky’s book definitely set my inner lioness’ roar off in my head.
It got me much more laser focused on my own vision for working with adult survivors of sibling childhood sexual abuse.
Every day makes a difference, and we can choose to OR we can choose not to make even a small, worthwhile difference, towards the greater good, even for a few minutes, an hour, if not a day.
In all reality, we are totally capable of doing something rather than nothing.
My own mission?
I am playing my own small part in lifting the lid of silence on sibling childhood sexual abuse for fellow survivors out there.
Survivors who have not yet spoken about what happened to them, and may never do so!
Estimates suggests that between 30-80% of child sexual abuse victims do not disclose before adulthood (Alaggia, 2005).Ramona Alaggia, assistant professor in the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on child sexual abuse, the impact of various forms of justice on survivors of sexual violence, violence in families, and family-based interventions.
It breaks my heart to see, feel and know the darkness they are burying, that is affecting so many areas of their lives.
The longer the time between when the episodes of abuse stopped (if they have) and when the child tells of the abuse, as abuse, the greater the damage that has been done to her personality.Steven Levenkron, Psychotherapist and Author of ‘Stolen Tomorrows’
I’ve learnt about all of that for my own life – my mind, body and soul.
I have continuously done the work, since my 20s, when it all flooded back to me. Thankfully with my husband’s support and love and now with my 3 adult daughters ‘having my back’ as well.
I have without realising it, kept an intuitive sense of compassionate curiosity for myself.
I remember watching an educational video of an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse in 2011. It was “The Path to Permanent Weight Loss”, a Robbins-Madanes program, in which, case-after-case, it clearly gave the message that ‘it is never about the weight’. This one woman on the video, talking years after the NLP intervention she’d received, said ‘incest (childhood sexual abuse) needs professional help to do the healing work. You cannot do it alone’.
I know that to be true.
The healing isn’t only for me, it’s also for the sake of my own family and generations to come.
In the journey of writing my book, I have grown so much, had so many realisations or what I call as a life coach, A’HA moments, from the research, reading case studies, reading memoirs and speaking to specialists in this work.
Not even that long ago, I heard out loud for the first time, via an audio book of Gabor Mate, “When The Body Says No – the cost of hidden stress”, one ‘adult word’ I felt resonate deeply for me, that was a word I couldn’t pinpoint before. Now I could. I could sit with that. I could do something about that. That’s how the healing works.
Over the years I have learned to understand what was stolen from me, and to repair those parts of me, that I refuse to leave in ruins.
I’ve even learnt to understand how it could all have come about. Something that confounded me for so many years.
I’ve learnt about what my values are and that I will never compromise my soul for anyone.
I’ve learnt all the roles we play, in dysfunctional families in particular, and the alternative roles that is about creating a life I love.
In my book, I’m sharing all I’ve learnt, together with my story. The book that is now moving with faster momentum towards editing and publication. Thank you Nicky, for that too. Your book gave me the ‘shove along’ I needed!
Any kind of childhood sexual abuse is not the survivor’s darkness to have to hold onto deep inside of themselves.
It is theirs to talk out, to cry out, to get it out of their body, to rage about, to pick apart and to heal from and to prevent happening to others by breaking the silence.
The darkness belongs to their abusers, their abuser’s enablers. What happened was 100% someone else’s bad behaviour, that was wrong. It is never OK.
It is never the victim’s shame to bear.
I am choosing to do something about this silent taboo I have survived from and have the intelligence and compassion to do something about.
If not, aren’t we all just accomplices to other girls’ and boys’ abuse that is going on right now and in the future?
By not doing something, aren’t we all just giving the abusers, the thumbs up, that they’ve been let off the hook?
Even to go to their grave one day knowing they got away with it. They got to hold power, play society and their families for silent fools. They got to toy with these young victims’ precious lives. They very likely got to re-offend.
For those who are currently victims of this kind of abuse.
For those who have started to speak up, then feel that’s enough for now. That’s how it works, we open up, we feel that piece of us heal. Then we protect our hearts again and leave it for a while. Then we grow further, and we open up one more crack and work on that, and so on. It is all about baby steps.
Also, for those who love an adult survivor of this form of abuse. You are our greatest allies.
We love you for choosing to know more, provide a safe haven and help us heal and grow as our real selves.
Thank you Nicky. For your book, your bravery and the important work you are doing for these young girls and women in Cambodia.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
Here is the link to Nicky’s website: it’s https://www.freetoshine.org. Nicky is a local to my town here in Noosa and is very much a woman Doing What Matters!
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