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Answers from a Sexual Abuse Survivor Part 3

MALAYSIA

 

Answers from a Sexual Abuse Survivor Part 3

Child Abuse Prevention Month is commemorating its 37th year of existence. After almost 40 years of advocacy and education efforts, we still see resistance when it comes to child sexual abuse. While we understand that the topic makes some uncomfortable, we are still committed to our goal: empower survivors of sexual abuse to be seen and heard. This April we wanted to give each presenter at Childhood Victories an opportunity to provide answers as a sexual abuse survivor. We asked about resiliency, life after trauma, and how they cope in their present lives.

Presenter: Malaysia Halley
Survivor of Sexual Abuse

When did you identify that what you were going through was sexual abuse?

Honestly, I did not realize what I was going through at the time was sexual abuse until my freshman year of college. My instincts told me that something was not right when I held my sister’s hand. The pain in her eyes broke my young soul.

I experienced inappropriate touching years before that moment, ironic as it may seem. When I think about the first moment it happened…I remember dissociating from my self. A cousin in Newark, New Jersey adopted both my sister and myself. My cousin had two teenage children and a live-in boyfriend that I do not remember being there often. This boyfriend took a liking to us and with no dad or mother around we appreciated it.

My cousin always seemed heartless to us and we yearned for someone to care for us.  We lived in a building and from what I remember we lived on the third floor. As I begin to experience grooming with M&Ms and money, I was overwhelmed with confusion. Each time I experienced abuse, I would look out of the back window of the apartment and watch other children on the playground having fun.

Looking back I remember thinking, “Why does he always do that when no one else is around?” When I was given candy, a popsicle, or money it made me happy as a kid. It finally hit me that what he did to my sister was wrong because she cried right in front of me. I didn’t want any more candy or money from him. I only wanted to get away. That eventually led to me trying to commit suicide three times.

How do you handle flashbacks and triggers now?

I wanted to become a speaker to connect with and help others heal from sexual abuse, despite having a traumatic childhood. I knew that each time I told my story, I would be revisiting those feelings. As I sit here right now going back down memory lane I think, “Why didn’t I tell more people?”

Then I remember, I told people over 19 times and only one person believed us! Still to this moment, that was the best day of my life! When I start asking myself the “why” or “how did this happen” questions, I do not block or avoid them. Instead I think of how I am feeling from that memory, how my body is responding, and I talk myself through those feelings.

I learned that when focusing on what happened and not blocking it out, it helps me face fears that came from sexual abuse; it has given me a great tool to pass to others.

Do you feel a lot of sadness talking about your abuse?

I used to feel a lot of sadness talking about my abuse. Now I feel the sadness of children currently being abused and not having the courage or understanding to let a trusted person know what is happening to them. I have tried disconnecting or separating myself from reliving the memories but in every fiber of my being that is all I want to do.

As much as I can, I work on my happiness and healing because it is a continuous journey. That is why I named my business, “Heal With Me” for survivors to know that healing from trauma requires forever healing. It helps when you have a community to heal with.

How did you find resiliency in life after trauma?

This is a story that I think will need a lot of time. But with the time we have I will have to say that for me, resiliency came with understanding, loving myself, understanding negative and positive situations along with people, and seeking an understanding of my own personal motives and development. However, I truly found resiliency in loving Malaysia, listening to Malaysia, and believing Malaysia. As you can see sometimes referring to myself in the third person! LOL!

Answers from a Sexual Abuse Survivor Part 3

Answers from a Sexual Abuse Survivor Part 3

“Malaysia told over 19 times before someone believed her. Give up? No way!”

 

FULL TRANSCRIPT (The following is the full transcript of this episode of The Be Seen and Heard Journey. Please note that this episode, like all BSH Journey episodes, features Victor speaking extemporaneously–he is unscripted and unedited.)

Answers from a Sexual Abuse Survivor Part 3

Hey, it’s Victor, welcome to another Be Seen and Heard© Journey. Thank you so much for being with me today. We are focusing this month on child abuse prevention month. We are focusing specifically on three survivors of abuse.

Today, I have the privilege of sharing Malaysia’s story.

She is incredibly inspiring and incredibly courageous. Those to me are pretty common traits for survivors of sexual abuse, but there’s a particular part of her story that just just blows my mind and I want to share her story with you. So please watch the video.

Here is a girl who was neglected then sexually and physically abused as a toddler. Not only was she confused but deeply humiliated. She kept it a secret for two reasons. Number one: her abuser was a father figure and told her not to say anything because no one will believe her. Number two: her abuser threatened to hurt her sister if she told. She kept his secret and then he abused her sister.

And although devastated this girl gained the courage to talk about the abuse.

Thinking about telling her family was scary. Her abuser said they would not believe her. She told community members instead.  She also told neighbors, church members, and teachers at her school over 19 times, but no one believed her. Then this girl and her sister wrote a letter together to their uncle hoping he would help them, and finally someone believed him and took them away from the abuse.

She was safe from the abuse and in a new home. Though she started having nightmares and attempted suicide twice.

She was encouraged to start self healing by a school nurse told her write poetry. Writing poetry to help her self-heal. She did not allow her experiences to define her. After earning a degree in social work, she was inspired to help survivors heal from sexual abuse. She also teaches them not only to be a survivor, but a thriver

Petty amazing, right? Her story’s incredible. Think about this….she told somebody over 19 times, but nobody believed her. It’s something I can’t imagine.

I have the privilege of empowering kids to not be voiceless. I literally give them the permission to say, “Hey, if something’s hurting you, I want you to have the courage to talk about it.” Years ago we didn’t have people that did that. We swept everything under the carpet. So one of the strategies is, I tell kids to have a trusted hero or a trusted adult so they can go to. Then they ask me all the time, “Hey Victor, what happens if that person doesn’t believe me or doesn’t want to talk to me about it?” I say, “Get another one. Have a team of trusted heroes.”

She could have given up so easily, but she didn’t.

She continued telling people, and finally someone believed her. That’s all it took for her life to change.  Of course, there were still obstacles and adversities, but she kept moving forward, kept moving forward. I mean, think about it, when someone believes you about something like this, it is truly very powerful because then you feel that you’re not alone and that you can accomplish things.

She does incredible things like inspiring other kids to have a voice.

And that’s why you don’t give up. If someone doesn’t believe you the first time, you go to somebody else, right? You just keep talking about it and don’t give up on yourself. And you can see here what happens when you don’t give up. Great things can happen.

I want to say thank you so much for taking the time to listen today or to watch this video. Please share this with your family and friends. And again, we all have the right to be seen and heard. Have a great day.