During my journey as MS U.S. NORTH AMERICA 2012, I have been asked to do many things and make appearances. One of them was being asked to appear on the show “Zappolo’s People” which airs here in Denver on Sunday nights. It was an honor and very exciting to be on television, but more importantly, to be able to help raise awareness for victims of sexual abuse. During the show, I was able to share a little bit of my own survivor story. In our society, this subject does not get talked about openly. Victims often harbor feelings of shame or guilt. Or they would like to maintain their anonymity, and pray for peace in their lives. I am here to say that there needs to be more open dialogue in order to educate and prevent such heinous crimes of humanity for our innocent children. Who will protect them if no one comes forward and lets them know that they are not alone? That it is not their fault? I find that being a victim of sexual abuse by my own father is both a blessing and a curse. I will never know what it’s like to have a happy childhood or how to lead a “normal” life. The abuse will stay with me for as long as I live. It has changed me and I don’t know what I could have been. Some of the greatest symptoms of the abuse that I suffered is anxiety, panic attacks and insomnia. When I am stressed out, I can’t sleep. When I have to go to court, I can’t sleep. Sleep to me is more precious than gold, when I get it. But the blessing comes now, in the fact that through my recovery, I have found my own voice and now am trying to use it to speak out and stand up for those who aren’t able to do so. It took me many years to figure out how to move forward. I find that being open and talking about my abuse is therapeutic. I also find that there is strength in numbers. I have been very humbled and grateful that through my willingness to talk about this taboo topic, other victims have come forward. People that I know, and people that I don’t. They have come to me and said “this has happened to me too.” WOW. How much courage did that take? It’s not whether or not they go to the police and file charges (which I pray they can find the strength to do so and stop the offenders), but it’s just the fact that they finally told someone. And that someone was me. The weight that must have been lifted off their shoulders, it is no longer a shameful, powerful secret. To me, that is why I talk about what happened to me. Because I can, I have a voice. And it’s been said before, many times by many people: If I can just help one person by coming forward….It is so true, and fulfilling. I continue to fight the good fight. I know I have helped. With that knowledge, I can sleep.