“Coming out” as a commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) survivor

"Follow Your Dreams"Amazing to think the world is free to know I am a CSEC survivor the very moment I press the “publish” button for this post. This day is a long-time coming. I have been sorting out my history for the better part of 15 years. I always knew my biological family was locked in intergenerational cycles of violence, addiction, mental illness and poverty: I was determined to get away from them at a very young age. But fully acknowledging the sexual exploitation took a lot more time. See, my exploiter was a member of my immediate family who said he “loved” me. I have come to understand child sexual abuse is often shrouded in lies of “love,” and my case was no exception. Decades have been needed to understand I wasn’t a “special little girl.” No, I was violated.

I still keep my anonymity as much as possible because my exploiter is still alive. I haven’t had contact with him for almost 20 years. He told me to “never call again” while hanging up on me when confronted him about the abuse. And I haven’t. I no longer fear for my safety because I am surrounded by not only an amazing family (including a few members of both my family of origin and the family I have made for myself in these 20 years) but because of you. The more I speak out about my history of not only CSEC, but also of child sexual and physical abuse, the more I am convinced I am only one member of a fierce tribe of people who have survived the unthinkable.

Whenever I speak at conferences, trainings, campus events and lectures, I am constantly humbled by the sheer number of people who disclose their histories of abuse with me. And increasingly, more men than women share with me. I am so touched and honored when men entrust their stories with me because this world has taught me they are only allowed to show anger and vulnerability is a sure way to be obliterated. I do not take this responsibility of listening and bearing witness to their truths lightly. Of course, I am also honored when women disclose to me; however, my experience is men take much more of a risk in speaking up and out.

And so, with that inspiration, I am also ready to take the risk of “coming out” as a CSEC and child abuse survivor. Only by blowing open the socially- and self-imposed isolation that comes with shame, humiliation and uncertainty of being believed and/or condemned will we finally be free.

Thank you for reading this post. I look forward to continuing my journey alongside of you all.




4 thoughts on ““Coming out” as a commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) survivor

  1. Thank you for writing this!! My “coming out” to those who knew me but not my story was last year. I like the use of the words “coming out” because it is like this huge secret we hide in a closet or under a floor board.

    One thing I’ve learned is we should never feel ashamed, and we should be able to say we survived!!

    You give so much hope to so many people!! Thank you so much!!


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