When I was a child, I was told to fear strangers; that they were the threat to my innocence. Unfortunately, I was never told that real danger would come from someone in my own family. When I was 10 years old, my great grandfather molested me. It wasn’t enough that he stole my innocence from me, it was the shame that I felt because my family members acted like it didn’t happen that started my journey into mental illness. Now, I know that others in my family suffered the same fate as I did. However, I was the only one brave enough to do something about it. I was able to protect my daughter from suffering the generational cycle of abuse at the hands of this evil man.

From that moment in my childhood I was a different person. I was anxious, depressed, I developed asthma; I began using food as a way to purposely make myself unattractive. At 10 years old, why in the hell would you have to think about such things as being unattractive? I lost my innocence that day, but what is worse is I was ashamed,.I thought I did something to make him do it. It wasn’t until recently that I realized it is the molester’s sickness that is the cause of childhood sexual abuse.

Slowly my trust disappeared for any male in my life. As I grew into adulthood my mistrusting of men continued. Relationships were a societal norm that I faked to make myself feel normal; never trusting anyone to know my truth. When you are molested it changes your psyche, at least it did mine. I became an obsessive compulsive person, attempting to be in control of everything in my life because I wanted to never be vulnerable again. Anxiety, panic attacks, depression, became my friends and caretakers. I never wanted a man touching me in fear of going back to that moment in my childhood memory bank.

My life took a turn for the better.  I was blessed with a beautiful daughter who changed my life and saved me. I knew I wanted her to be safe and not go through the traumas I faced in my life. I sought help for my issues. I realized that all my mental health issues stemmed from me never coming to terms with the fact that I was molested. I needed help back then and didn’t receive it. As a result, I covered up my pain with self-harm. The hardest part of being sexually abused is that I felt like I did something to deserve it. I felt unlovable for decades. I suffer everyday with depression, panic, and anxiety. I spent around 10 years going through the menagerie on antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication. One day I just said enough. There has to be a better way, rather than pumping my body full of chemicals and various prescriptions.

I had no idea Facebook would be my opening to healing. Finding people who are fighting the same fight as I am brings a sense of peace to my life. It helps me to know that I am not alone for the first time in my life. I now understand there is no shame in my past. You can overcome your childhood traumas, and I am not what happened to me. This realization is the greatest gift I have ever been given.

It made me realize that I wanted to make it my career goal to help others like me. I started on a path to become a psychologist specializing in helping other adults, like myself, who have been through a childhood trauma. I want to spend the rest of my years on earth helping adults overcome the traumas and help them have productive relationships in the future.

I still struggle with depression and anxiety, but I know now that I just have to work through it by recognizing the pain immediately. Drugs, for me, only masked my pain. I choose a different path now. I am learning that it is okay to let others in. Being vulnerable is not a weakness; it is strength. By writing this I am finally coming to terms with my past traumas. Only a few people in my life know this truth and now it is time for me to say this is what has happened to me, I am not ashamed, I am a survivor, and I am finally free.

IMG_1125Amy McCullough is a 44 year old woman who is a single parent of two. She has a 23 year old daughter named Ashley and a 17 year old son named Christopher. Amy has struggled throughout her life about the things that have happened in the past. Only in the past few years has everything turned around for the better, finally. Here she is announcing to the world her struggles, her fears, and her accomplishments that her past used to not allow her to have. Now at the age of 44 going on 45, she can finally say she is a survivor and that she is free.

Amy can be found on Facebook