“What? Me? An advocate for survivors of childhood abuse?”
Those were my thoughts last summer. I was preparing a brief biography for a writing project and searching for terms to describe myself.
As I sat and thought about what to write, the word ‘advocate‘ dropped into my mind. Having never considered that descriptor before, I looked it up. I knew it fit.
Advocate: A person who supports or speaks in favor; a person who pleads for another. – The Concise Oxford Dictionary, 8th ed., 1990.
I didn’t use that bio just then. It would be a few more months until I launched a website, began regular blogging, and connected with online adult childhood abuse survivor groups. It would be a while until I called myself an advocate.
My Background: Definitely Not an Advocate
If you knew me way back, the word ‘advocate‘ would not come to mind. If anything, I grew up as quiet, compliant, and not given to sharing my opinion. Standing up to people–NOT.
Although I always held a strong internal belief that people deserved just and fair treatment, my family-of-origin did not welcome different opinions. From an early age, I learned not to speak up.
It wasn’t until my late thirties, after a long struggle with depression that I began to explore the impact of my childhood and my inability to speak up. It was definitely linked to the early loss of my dad and unprocessed grief. I sought out resources, learned about the connection between unprocessed grief and depression and began to heal. And the more I healed, the more I found myself speaking up. The more I spoke up, the stronger I felt.
Then, my husband, Derek, the survivor got sick. You can read more about this in my free ebook For the Partners of Childhood Abuse Survivors, but he experienced the return of blocked (dissociated) childhood memories and could not cope. He left work and we began the long road of looking for resources and ways to help him heal.
It’s a good thing I found my voice because he lost his.
My Journey to Becoming an Advocate for Childhood Abuse Survivors
In hindsight, I realize that I was an advocate long before I associated myself with the term. I sought out resources to help me heal from my childhood trauma. Then, when one of our daughters was diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder, I kept at it to get her the academic and the medical supports she needed.
And when Derek got sick, I did the same things that I had done before.
- I Researched.
- I Read.
- I Reached out.
- I kept doing it until I got Results.*
A Definition of Advocacy
Advocacy in all its forms seeks to ensure that people, particularly those who are most vulnerable in society, are able to:
- Have their voice heard on issues that are important to them.
- Defend and safeguard their rights.
- Have their views and wishes genuinely considered when decisions are being made about their lives.
Advocacy is a process of supporting and enabling people to:
- Express their views and concerns.
- Access information and services.
- Defend and promote their rights and responsibilities.
- Explore choices and options.”
Source: SEAP Advocacy, UK.
How Can You Become an Advocate?
- Become self-aware. What frustrates you? What pains you? What makes you want to make a difference?
- Read and research on your topic.
- Add your voice to the conversations that ignite you. Write, text, and talk about the issues.
- Keep at it.
In my craziest dreams, I would not have imagined myself as an advocate. Yet, here I am today. An advocate for childhood abuse survivors.
Would you like to become an advocate for childhood abuse survivors? Or perhaps you are already involved in this type of work?
Either way, I’d love to connect with you. Drop me a note or find here:
Facebook: Heather Tuba