Rape Survivor, Cleveland
Like too many survivors of sexual assault, Kim couldn’t accept that she was not the cause of her abuse. “I thought it was my fault, that I was to blame for what had happened to me,” she explained.
Nightmares and flashbacks haunted Kim for years after she endured abuse at the hands of her stepfather as a teenager. Like so many other survivors, she turned to drugs and alcohol to escape: “I medicated myself so I didn’t have to deal with the pain.” It was during Kim’s recovery process from addiction that the traumatic flashbacks began to overwhelm her. No longer numb, Kim didn’t know where to turn or how to deal with the emotions she was experiencing. That is when she found Cleveland Rape Crisis Center.
“I don’t know if it was just being at the Center, or my specific counselor…I just got such a warm welcome. It was like I had been going there for years. I was able to talk honestly to my counselor and really open up. She helped me realize that I was going to get through this, and that I was going to be okay,” Kim says. The counseling Cleveland Rape Crisis Center provided Kim allowed her to begin healing from the sexual abuse she had buried for years. Kim admits that it was often deeply painful to talk about the trauma she had endured, but the more Kim went, the more she realized she had the power to control her own life, and the healing followed.
Self-forgiveness was a major focus of Kim’s work. The next step was forgiving those who had harmed her. This included not only her stepfather, but also her mother, who she felt didn’t believe her when she told her what was happening. “I had always blamed myself for what had happened, and with the Center’s help, I was able to see that it wasn’t my fault. I was just a child. Forgiving myself helped me to forgive my mother and stepfather,” Kim remembers. While Kim shares that she is taking “baby steps” in her healing process with her family, she knows she has the full support of Cleveland Rape Crisis Center behind her.
Kim also credits her counselor at the Center with encouraging her to pursue a career in the mental health and substance abuse field. She realizes that she can make a difference in other people’s lives the same way Cleveland Rape Crisis Center did for her. “I would recommend the Center to anyone who has experienced sexual abuse or assault. The staff will help you overcome the trauma you went through in your life. They helped me to begin to heal, to recover, and to start on a new path in my life.”