My story began when I was 5, I was molested by my stepfather. This was the beginning of my true self being compromised.  I was a tiny little girl, sitting on the cold doctor’s table made for women, with lots of nurses and investigators in white gowns taking notes. They waited patiently, whispered, and talked. Then the doctor finally “confirmed” the “alleged” acts had happened. By the age of 6, I had testified in front of a jury and a man had gone to prison. March 2022, I stumbled upon the post asking for entries for child abuse awareness month. The next recommended step listed: Take the ACE test. I took the test and scored a solid 10 out of 10, the highest number on the scale. All the feelings rush in, strong emotions a side effect of growing up in chaos. 

I am not alone. I am loved. I am incredible. It’s okay to not feel okay. I repeat these daily mantras to create peace. I say a prayer that all good things will work in my favor. These are written on post-its and mirrors in my home. Talk therapy has never helped me. What has helped and continues to help is mindfulness, washing dishes, listening to the water, feeling the water, drying the dishes, being intensely in the moment. Gardening, the act of putting my hands in the dirt. Yoga, being on my mat and accepting myself fully as I am, erasing everything that was or will be and just being! I have mats in my bedroom and living room. All of the things listed get me out of my head and back into my body. 

I wiggle my toes, this I borrowed from writer Brene Brown, it makes me feel a part of the human experience. Toes remind me that I am alive. I am here! After everything, I am still here. I dance and listen to my favorite songs. I get involved in volunteer activities.  I set small goals. One of my goals is to speak to 3 new people per day, which quite frankly, I am terrible at. However, these small goals keep me moving forward. Going backward for me, equals a deep depression of why, who does that, why me, and it leads me to a dead end. I work out 4-5 days a week and I read a lot of self-help books.

I set aside daily grieving time. I used to fight it. I used to get so upset when sadness happened, but then I realized all the moments as a child when I was slapped across the face for crying. Now I am free to let these tears flow. This year is my year of dresses. Dresses have always been weird for me. Frightening almost. Will I get raped again? I know this is an odd, but very real terrifying thought for a 37-year-old. I am taking my power back. I am determined to get comfortable in dresses and skirts. 

This is a survivor’s journey. It is a patch-by-patch piecing together of my story that was once taken away, never allowed to be written. A lifetime dedication to intentionally creating a happy and fulfilling life that I deserve.

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Dana S.

Dana S.

Financial Coach & Writer


Dana has an ACE score of 10.

Authors express their own opinions which do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Stop Abuse Campaign.