This post may be triggering for survivors of child abuse and trauma.
This is me when I was five—the age my abuse began. This is the room that I was abused in. These are the girls that, as I learned later, were also abused by the same perpetrator.
April is child abuse awareness month, but many of us live aware of abuse year-round.
At Love146, we specifically address situations where children are abused for someone else’s material gain—that’s what’s called child trafficking. But it doesn’t take long around Love146 to sense that the rivers of abuse, and of healing, run deep here.
I spoke last weekend about child trafficking at an event and someone came up to me and said, “That happened to me. I want to help.” After some sensitive and empathetic conversation, I learned she wasn’t abused in a trafficking situation specifically, but she was abused, and that experience connected her instantly and deeply to what I was sharing. This is incredibly common after we speak about our work at Love146. Particularly, abuse survivors are moved to engage.
As the Creative Director at Love146, I have to think about audience. More than I think about the potential “activist audience,” “philanthropic audience,” “unaware audience,” or even the “thirty-something-yuppie audience”—I think about the abused audience.
Research suggests 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys have experienced sexual abuse (not to mention various other forms of abuse); in reality, this number could be much higher. And based on my own experience, my intuition tells me that those rates are probably even higher among people who come to the table in support of Love146. We care about things that we identify with.
When creating communication for Love146 and considering how to awaken a conscience to the abuse of children, I have to consider that the reluctance to engage with Love146 may be because this is wholly unfamiliar to the person and too much to take in. But I also must consider, conversely, that the subject matter may be TOO familiar, and thus too much to take in. Always, the anecdote is hope. And hope is so real in the stories unfolding of the children we journey with.
Many stories that come in from the field resonate and spur forward my own journey of recovery, and I hope that is the same for many others. To my fellow survivors of abuse journeying with Love146: your healing is important to us. Your contributions and insight are important to us. You are on my mind, everyday. Your support in heart, in voice, and in gifts makes healing possible for others. Thank you for your bravery to engage—thank you for being a part of the Love146 with me.