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The National Sexual Violence Resource Center has announced that the theme for this year’s Sexual Awareness Month is “Embrace Your Voice.”

For all women and girls to be able to embrace their voices, however, we have to break the taboo on talking about sexual assault that occurs in the privacy of the home: incest. As a survivor of childhood incest, I know that before I was able to embrace my voice, I had to find it, listen to it, and believe it. For decades, I buried my voice as well as my memories. Then, when I was able to hear my voice, I ended up feeling ashamed and at fault. Finally, when I found the courage to speak out, my reality was denied and invalidated. This led me to doubt my sanity and silence myself. My healing journey was long and challenging.

If you are an incest survivor, it may, therefore, feel hard for you to embrace your voice. Know that:

• You are not alone – you may be surprised to know how many people you know are also survivors
• Any feelings of shame you may have do not belong to you
• It’s normal to have vague or fragmented memories of what happened
• Your voice matters
• There are resources available to help you