Today is the day; I am introducing myself to the world; I am a wife, a mother, a grandmother, an adopted sister, a nurse, a friend, but never a daughter. I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse; this is a day of gratitude to those who continue to support me in my healing journey, a day of heartbreak for the children who need protection, and a day of hope for survivors who need help; a voice to speak and an ear to listen. It is a day that I am taking the anger out of my life, the day I am looking in the mirror and believing in me. I lived in a world where wishes did not come true, I believed in fairy tales and wished for that moment, the happy ending where the princess was rescued. Today is that day, I have found my true self; a person who is full of energy, creativity, passion, and strength to stand up and I say, “I am worth it”! Today my fairy tale needs a new ending; a final chapter, one that says, The End… to Childhood Sexual Abuse. A story of a world that joined hands and committed to stopping this atrocity; one that lives in a world of silence; unprotected, misunderstood, and in every person’s backyard, but yet most chose not to look. I am determined to change the world, one step, one child, and one survivor at a time; a real story.
WHY? … Because of the world of darkness, the childhoods lost, and…
Memories…mine; shoved inside a wounded body, covered in a mirage of perfection, oozing out in silence between the cracks of my life. The wounds…invisible, untreated, only a by-product of my apparent imagination, left to fester through the years. The hole in my heart…gaping, bleeding, aching; a pain uncharacterized by the human language, unspoken, beating faster and faster, broken, stilled by numbness. The tears…only in isolation and darkness, flowing backwards, filling my body with toxic waste; drowning me in a world full of ignorance and evil. The dreams that were filled with horrors of a real monster, bathrooms, hands, basements, Vicks, crazy foam, rectal thermometers, hide and seek, eyes blinded, ears deafened, the morning light reminding me of life but yet wishing I would die. The fear… the when, the where, the secret; silenced by the prize and status…I am the “special” girl, “daddy’s little girl”. The question… a simple word, a single syllable; “why”, and then the “why” and still the “why”? The child…this adult woman…one holds onto the other; taking turns; playing dolls one minute and then a game of life; real life, a mother struggling with realities, raising real children, balancing all the pieces, a wife, sleeping next to her husband; her sweatpants and pink blanket provide security each night; yes, the child…the adult woman; scared, knowing if one lets go the other will not survive.
So how could I tell anyone that my own father was having sex with his “princess”, touching her fragile, innocent body, smooth skin and soft lips with his rough hands, his exposed naked body? How could I know that butterfly kisses did not mean kissing his private parts, because after all; he loved me. I was special, he told me himself, over and over, this is just between us, just us; yes… I was his princess, but I did not live in a castle, I was damaged and used to satisfy his sexual needs. What a special relationship for a special girl…. but shhhhhhhhhh , don’t tell, it was supposed to be a secret just between us; I mean my “Dad” and I.
So, yes today is the day, I introduce myself, my name is JoAnn Kerschner, I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, the CEO and Principal Consultant for Shattered Canvas. My story will be uncomfortable to hear; but listen, hear the children, see the silent survivors; they live in your neighborhoods, so look into your back yard with open eyes; with education, awareness, and support childhood sexual abuse can be eliminated. Every single person needs to hear my story; it echoes the story of so many, their voice. End the silence, use your voice; save the children, support the survivors so they can heal, end the stigma of mental health; make today your day too!
Reach out if you are a child being abused, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, a family member or a friend, there is help, there is HOPE, I promise…….
This day is dedicated to my hero: Matthew Swan
With sincere gratitude and appreciation for saving my life!
With love to my wonderful husband Mike, who really meant, “In good times and bad times” 28 years ago, my children who never lost faith in me, and to all who have supported me, chose me without judgment, and believed in me when I did not believe in myself!
MY unique and special family!