Sarah's Story: IMPACT Helped Me Take My Life Back

From as far back as I can remember, I have dealt with harassment from men. I've been assaulted...both as a child and an adult. I was stalked by a neighbor as a child, who would send me letters from next door and follow me any time I was out in the neighborhood. I later found out that at least one of my parents knew. For whatever reason, this was never addressed with the guy and I was left to grow up with a terrifying fear of being watched. The harassment only expanded as I got older. A couple years later, I was again stalked and eventually raped by one of my siblings' friends, who I'd catch following me and later began breaking into my room at night, where I'd wake up to him in my bed. I never told anyone for years. I was scared, I didn't want to make my sibling feel guilty, and I also blamed myself. I think now looking back, since I never saw my parents fight back for my safety...I never really felt like I could fight back for myself and I hated myself for it. 

By 15 I was a mess, doing a ton of drugs and drinking to sleep at night. My mom died and I began to be shifted around until I took off with a verbally abusive boyfriend at 17. Eventually I spiraled and found myself on the road with a guy that began to violently attack me. About a year later I was arrested, charged with several felonies for psychedelic drugs of his and forced into an intensive rehabilitation program. I'm grateful for this, since, as I got clean, I got a better grasp of what I was doing to myself. I vowed to end the abuse and my partner committed to getting clean - and he did for about a year. But eventually he relapsed and when he knew I was going to leave him, he woke me up in the night so violently I knew I would never make it out of that house alive if I didn't fight back in some way...and so I placated him emotionally/romantically or in any way I could until he finally passed out into a "drug coma"...then I found the keys, got in the car and got far enough away to call for help. I was completely unrecognizable and still suffer pains today throughout my body. 

The impact that these experiences had on me, mentally and emotionally, is unimaginable if you've never experienced physical/psychological trauma. I hated and blamed myself for all the terrible wrongs that had been inflicted upon me. I eventually tried to kill myself in 2012 but was unsuccessful. Since then I've spent my life strategizing on how to appear/be as normal as possible in life, always knowing at some point people will see the fragile, broken version of me that I know every day. I've tried many ways to cope with the unpredictability of my moods and the panic attacks and triggers that can send me spiraling from 0 to 60 in seconds out in public. Mostly I just try to stay as busy as possible.

I've been fairly successful in my field, with a growing career and a bright future...but 8 years or so after my last attack and I still suffer in painful silence and wondering if I'll ever feel safe or "normal". 

Well in January, I made a commitment that 2017 was the year that I would begin the work I needed in order to take my life back. The IMPACT LGBT Basics Course was one of the first steps that I initiated on that path and it has changed my life in innumerable ways. IMPACT has helped me build skills to de-escalate situations, define my boundaries, and to protect myself when those boundaries are crossed. Their course was also the perfect opportunity for me to start resetting my nervous system and working through the adrenaline that has incapacitated me in the past. 

Because of IMPACT, I feel for the first time in my life, like I have verbal and physical tools to never be a victim again. 

I couldn't possible express how grateful I am for the IMPACT team, the progress they have helped me to make and for the scholarships that they provide to people like me. I could not have possibly afforded this program without their scholarship and yet it has been a life altering experience. If you are able to - PLEASE MAKE A DONATION - and know that it is going towards survivors like me taking back control of our lives. 

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