A letter to survivors of abuse

Last updated 12:00 25/01/2013

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As a survivor of childhood physical and sexual abuse spanning several years, Sarah Gilbert hopes to use her experiences to help empower others in similar situations and reduce the tolerance for abuse in our communities.

We hear it in the news often, the extent to which people can hurt each other, leaving surviving victims living in the shadows of recognition and acknowledgement for many years after.

Many acts rob people of their mental and emotional lives, erasing identities and distorting moral compasses, leaving the shell of a person to wander through the rest of their years with the echoes of pain reverberating through their spirit. Many continue to be victims, lost and unheard no matter the noise they make. They personify society's shame, and so there is reluctance by society to look on the scars in the full light of what it enables to happen to its own members.

This is not a description of pain. This is a note to the survivors who have defied the odds, who have the will to look past their pain to see there is still beauty around them, and who have taken ownership of their continued journey.

You are the most beautiful people with awesome spirits!

I want to congratulate you on your accomplishments, and for taking back your power. If you share in others' happiness and fortune without jealousy, you are one of the most beautiful people in the world. If you try your best to contribute despite your limitations, you are an inspiration. If you can turn the sickness in to wisdom, your experiences have not been in vain. If your attitude is positive, and constructive with the ambition to improve the outcomes of others with similar experiences, people will listen and they will support you.

Your attitude ripples through your community like a drop hitting a pool of water. Humble survivors brave enough to continue walking among us and contribute keep the rest of us humble and inspired. Without you we wouldn't know how sick our species can be to its own members, nor the depth and strength of human spirit. If we all aspire to a better future for our species, knowing such things can only improve our outlook.

You are reported without names so few will know of your endeavours. Only other survivors can empathise with your journey. Each may be a drop, but together you can make a downpour, to erode those who would continue to victimise through ignorance and complacency. Kia kaha, be strong, for each year you continue your journey, your spirit touches more people to pass a wisdom that only your experience can teach. That is the gift you carry, and the willingness to carry some of that weight is the least we can offer you.

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Much love to you all.

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