Our names are Ben Glade and Annaka Vimahi. We are siblings, abused as children by the same man. Our lives have been greatly impacted by this abuse. We have spent years in therapy, tried many medications, reported to the police, spoke with the prosecutor, and supported each other. Still, we were missing something. Something that’s difficult to explain to a non-survivor.
All the burden for our healing has been on us. We have felt revictimized by the justice system. We need to live in a society where we can speak freely about what happened to us. Where uttering the words “sexual abuse” isn’t taboo and isn’t a conversation stopper. Where we watch the news and see the focus geared more toward the survivor and their healing rather than all aspects of the perpetrator. We need a society where victims are believed. As in our case, most victims do not get “justice” for what happened to them. Survivors need other forms of support and paths for healing.
It is with these needs that we came up with the organization survivorsARE. As survivorsARE we strive to promote open and productive discussions of sexual abuse, support and educate survivors and their loved ones throughout the healing process, and provide a safe environment for people to heal together.
We want to be a part of changing the culture that will unite and empower survivors, alleviate unwarranted feelings of shame experienced by victims, and bring an end to the secrecy that gives perpetrators the power to abuse.
We hope to accomplish this by using social media to help people see the faces behind the statistics of sexual abuse and sharing our voice in our communities. We want survivors to be seen as people, not just victims. We want to reach non-survivors in a way that they also feel safe exploring the impact of sexual abuse on our society. We hope to expand on what people’s assumptions are about sexual abuse by showing that we are your brother, neighbor, best friend, business partner, etc.
Our perspective is that of adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, a population that is often unseen. We are devastated that time did NOT heal our wounds. Rather we have lived our entire lives with the damaging consequences of the abuse which have shaped our entire beings. We don’t know life apart from developing and living with these consequences.
We hope that eventually there will be such a strong cultural shift that this sickness that infiltrates all communities can start to heal.
To learn more about Ben and Annaka, visit their blog at benandannaka.com.