133 – Jolene (United States)

I am a talker. The kind of person some times you see in the grocery story and duck down another aisle because you know what should be a quick greeting could turn into an gargantum conversation. I turned that love of language into a career in broadcast journalism starting at age 19. I told so many amazing, incredible and touching stories. But I never saw the story in myself, one that started years earlier. As a teenager, a family friend (more family than friend), church leader, former teacher and respected business owner took advantage of my innocence and youth. I buried the darkness of what happened in the darkest place I could find in my mind. But you can only deny the darkness for so long. I hit my lowest point in February 2009 when I took a bottle pills and hoped I would never need to feel the cold that comes with the haunting memories, the lingering shadows and lost childhood. But I woke up the next day and realized I received another chance in life to help others. I confronted my abuser in January 2011 (the 15th to be exact, I think of it as my second birthday). Then in June 2011, I spoke at TEDxSiouxFalls, my first time talking in such a public forum about what happened. Today I work to create a camp called Selfspiration, a place for children to find comfort in the friendship of other survivors and a place where staff, adult survivors, can put purpose to what happened to them. And I hope to keep talking about my journey to help others through theirs.
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