In 2020, Jessica Simpson released her memoir “Open Book”. In her life account, she divulges her struggles throughout her past. She speaks openly about her battle against drugs and alcohol addiction fueled by the unaddressed sexual abuse she experienced as a little girl. There are multiple inspiring elements of Simpson’s story. However, one aspect that stands out is how she could heal more after talking about the abuse all these years later. In an interview with ABC News, Simpson said that one of the reasons she shared her abuse story was so that she could “accept it” and “say it out loud.” Another reason was so that “parents would be more aware of situations their kids might be facing.”
Her story shows how helpful it can be for victims to speak about their experiences at some point in their lives. We want to take this time to highlight why opening up about abuse can be an integral part of the healing process.
1. Talking Helps Us Process.
Simpson says that it helped her accept it when she wrote about the abuse. When she fully disclosed the experiences to a therapist, she could identify all of the issues that stemmed from what she went through. While internal processing is an essential and after-effect of abuse, keeping those emotions and experiences to ourselves can make it more challenging to sort through our feelings. Things like talking about it aloud to a trusted listener like a therapist or friend or writing down what happened can help us reflect and see things from a new perspective. This can be incredibly freeing and reveal thoughts or emotions we may not have otherwise noticed were there. Without sharing our stories, it’s easy to get stuck in a repetitive shame pattern inside our heads.
2. Talking Allows Others to Help.
As Jessica’s story highlights, perpetrators of sexual abuse are often in very close and trusted positions within a victim’s life. Because of this, and the fact that abusers often gain the victim’s loved ones’ trust, the support system surrounding the victim is often oblivious to abuse. These same loved ones do not have a chance to help if they are not aware of what is happening.
Unfortunately, speaking up about abuse does not always result in gaining support. If you decide to air your abuse to someone you trust and find they are not compassionate, believing or supportive, please know that you are not alone. We call this type of response Double Abuse. We encourage you not to isolate in response but rather to seek outside help, such as from a pastor, therapist or abuse prevention hotline.
3. Talking Enables Forgiveness.
Going through abuse can cause us to live according to the abuser’s “truths.” These are the lies about who we are, what we deserve and where our worth comes from. Experiencing abuse can make thoughts like I’m damaged, I’ll never find someone to love me or I will never be whole, become entrenched. The key to taking your power back and putting these lies behind you is by placing the responsibility of the abuse solely with the abuser.
This does not necessarily require face-to-face confrontation. If you believe that such a step would be best for you and have sought advice that agrees, we encourage you to follow through with your instincts. Whether confrontation is part of the process or not, seeking to forgive can be a healthy choice on the healing journey. The act of forgiving puts us back in control. Forgiveness helps us find the strength to remove the influence of the person or people who hurt us. An important note is that one can forgive and still seek legal retributions for the abuse perpetrated against them. It does not mean to forget or that you must reconcile with the abuser.
We hope that you feel encouraged to share your story after reading this. We would love for you to consider publishing your story (anonymously) on our website. Sharing your story can help you in the ways we mentioned, it helps other victims to recognize that they are not alone and educates the public about ways they can best respond. Visit the “Share Your Story” link in the resources section below to upload your story or write it fresh! If you want our help writing it, please reach out.
To help spread the word to others, consider sharing this blog on your social media, a private email or group chat to help spark a conversation. Creating a dialogue around abuse issues is a pertinent step to educating ourselves and better helping those who have been impacted by abuse.
For those who are interested in learning more from The M3ND Project or gaining resources on abuse, join us for a 4hr Intro training on 2/4 and 2/5. Links are in the resources section below.
Stories of Healing- https://themendproject.com/am-i-the-victim-of-emotional-abuse/#storiesofhealing
Share Your Story- https://themendproject.com/the-m3nd-project-tmp/
Intro Training Registration- https://secure.givelively.org/event/m3nd-project-inc/the-m3nd-project-introductory-training/the-m3nd-project-introductory-training-february-4-5