Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Face of A Survivor

She is 54 years old.
She lives in a nursing home. She has been in a nursing home for more than 2 years. She was supposed to go there for therapy so she could walk better. She is no better and no one knows exactly why.
Until recently, she lived in a nursing home that was a couple of hours away from family. Her daughter and mother visited her as often as they could but she was basically isolated and alone.
Now she lives in a home closer to family. Praise God. Still, she spends most of her time alone. Unable to walk without help, unable to feed herself without help, unable to even use the phone, she is isolated from all the people and places she cares about.
She is an incest survivor. She has had therapy for years and has struggled with clinical depression. She has been on social security disability because of being too depressed to be able to work. She has raised two daughters on her own.
She is a caring person. Very sensitive. And always trying to help others. But she has been afraid most of her life. Depressed and afraid.
She is 54 years old. She is a survivor of child sexual abuse. 

And so am I.
She's my sister.

April is Child Abuse Awareness Month. Educate yourselves about child sexual abuse. Find out what your church is doing in this area. Find out what your schools and community are doing.
Sexual abuse is in all segments of society.
And the victims are real people. 
Like my sister.
And me.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke

How To Help A Survivor

Just Try to Shut Us Up


Vicky said...

Colleen, I'm so sorry to hear how much your sister and your family are suffering. It makes so much sense, now, that victims confront the issue after years of silence. It never goes away, does it? I will add your sister to my prayers. I'm discovering that being aware of the reality of child sexual abuse demands a different response to when I used to hear it in passing through the media.

God bless:-)

Colleen said...

Vicky, no, it never goes away. Thanks for visiting and commenting. And for praying for my sister - that's awesome! It means a lot.

mary333 said...

I'm so sorry that your sister is suffering so much, Colleen. Sexual abuse has devastating effects that reach into every aspect of a person's life. I will pray for your sister. Thank you for being an advocate for all the children of God who have been wounded by sexual abuse.

Sending you a big hug, my friend. You are wonderful and I thank God that He gifted you with the courage and grace to bring this great evil to light.

Colleen said...

Mary, thank you for your prayers too! I so appreciate it. And the hug!!

Anne Bender said...


Thank you so much for writing this courageous post. I am so sorry about all that you and your sister have suffered. Know of my prayers.

Karinann said...

This is a powerful and needed post. I am glad you shared it here. It is a topic too many would rather not hear about, but we need to if our children are to be protected.
I join my thanks with Mary's for your constant courage to be a voice for all those who have suffered abuse, and to show them there is hope and healing.
Many prayers for your sister.

Colleen said...

Karinann, bless you. I appreciate your comment more than you know. All of the comments here are helpful to me. Affirming. Thanks for your prayers.
Tomorrow I am giving a witness to some deacon's wives!

RAnn said...

Praying for her

Colleen said...

RAnn, thank you so much! God bless.

Michael Seagriff said...


I was shocked as an attorney and later as an Administrative Law Judge to see the horrific extent to which sexual abuse pervades our society.

Your timely and courageous post will, pray God, encourage many others to pay closer attention to this dreaded epidemic.

I know it has and will open the floodgates of prayer for you, your sister and other victims of abuse.

Barb Schoeneberger said...

Colleen, how tragic! I will pray for your sister. We really need to hear about this more often and learn signs to look for.

Is your conversion to Catholicism any help to her? I mean, can she turn to Jesus with all of this?

About ten or so years ago a close high school friend told me she had been abused by her father almost every night. This was in the early 1960s and she covered it up so well none of us knew. I felt really sad and guilty for not knowing at the time. When she finally talked about it, her mother disowned her and her brother and sister broke off all contact. They didn't believe her and were in total denial. Fortunately she has a good husband and wonderful children. I'm glad she trusted me enough to tell me.

Colleen said...

Michael, I am guessing you have seen and heard a lot. Thank you for your encouragement and prayers. That helps a lot.

Barb, thank you for your prayers. No, unfortunately my sister does not pray or go to church. She told my mother the other day that she has stopped praying. Not a good sign. My mother and I keep trying. We pray for her every day. My mom's minister has gone to visit her too. A relationship with Jesus would help her so much.
Your friend's situation is so typical with many incest survivors. I am sorry to hear that her mother disowned her. And her siblings too That is so sad. Our family is really messed up. Dysfunctional in the true sense of the word. Thankfully, my mother is very supportive but they were divorced already when my sister and I finally told my mother. I will write more about this thru the month of April.
Do not feel guilty. We survivors get good at pretending. So the signs are not easy to see. Her mother and father are the guilty ones.
I am glad she has a supportive husband. So do I. It has made all the difference in the world to me. Faith and unconditional love - healing medicine for sure.

Carol@simple_catholic said...

Oh Colleen. Prayers for your sister (and for you). It takes a lot courage and strength to open up as you have. Thank you for having the courage to speak out.

Colleen said...

Carol, thank you for your prayers!

Tracie Nall said...

Thank you so much for sharing this with the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse, Colleen. This is such a powerful example of the ways the effects of sexual abuse last forever.

I am sorry your sister is hurting. I'm praying for her.

Colleen said...

Tracie, thank you for hosting the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse. And thanks for your prayers, too.

Middle State said...

Thank you for sharing your sister's story, or at least the story of your sister. Only she could share her story. Fifty four years old is too young to be isolated in a nursing home. I hope she finds the strength and will through your support to reclaim the life she deserves.

Colleen said...

Middle State, thank you for visiting me and reading this blog post. Thank you for your comment, too.
I hope she finds the strength too. You are so right - she is too young for this.