| Cassy Qualls
|| You Don't Have To Be Another Child Abuse Statistic
Struggling with an eating disorder I learned about 'imbalance'
by Cassandra Qualls
My name is Cassy Qualls. I went through years of abuse in my childhood and I learned very quickly that it could control my life if I let it, but I knew I was made to fight. My heart is to share with you some of the things I've learned through this journey and provide practical advice and education that helped bring healing to my life.
I am so excited to have the opportunity to connect with those of you who share similar stories.
Did you know?
There are over 42 million survivors of sexual abuse in America.
Around 90% of sexual abuse victims never tell.
293,000 children and youth are estimated to be at risk of exploitation.
90% are abused by someone they know, love or trust.
20% of child sexual abuse victims are under the age of 8.
Abuse is a global epidemic. Abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual or neglect of children by parents, guardians, or others. Abuse happens in all cultural, ethnic, and income groups. No matter what age this tragedy takes place it has lasting effects.
Most individuals even into their adult years struggle with:
Betrayal - abuse victims usually feel betrayal from ones they love. Children who have been sexually abused know their perpetrators in 90% of the cases.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - when someone has been sexually abused at an early age, how they view sex becomes altered bringing flashbacks, inability to be touched, fear, shame, etc.
Isolation Versus Spotlight - victims often feel shame, embarrassment, sometimes even guilt over what happened.
Eating Disorders - these disorders are a means of physically punishing the body.
Raising awareness for abuse is near to my heart. I am one of the numbers in those statistics. Statistics are another source of ‘labeling' those that have been abused. When I began to share my story I would hear statistics of women never healing, women becoming bitter, women giving up on life, women who turned to temporary sources of addiction, etc.
I was determined to not be another statistic. I wish I could say that was true. But I fell into a trap full of insecurities. I wanted to be normal and I felt like I stood out in every situation. I felt alone, like no one understood. I had to be the best at everything I did, because I didn't want to experience failure ever again.
I developed an eating disorder because I thought if I looked a certain way than I would feel better about myself. I cultivated unhealthy relationships because it was what was familiar. I'd venture to say that I used the ‘statistics' as a means to behave however I wanted. Articles, blogs, people, etc. in a way excuse this behavior because of what you went through. Looking back I wish I had someone tell me “YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE A STATISTIC.”
I think more than anything the ability to heal and lead a normal life, sharing your story to help others is the best way to move forward from these life events. This is not saying that I am naïve to the healing process for an individual and that will look different for each person. I want to share a couple things with you that changed my healing journey.
First and foremost, I believe that God can heal any broken situation. I believe in restoration and being restored to even better than you were before. I have faith in that for each and every one of you. I pray for you.
I believe that support from family adds to the healing journey. Healthy family members are ones that will always have your back, no matter the darkest season you go through. They want to see you healthy and will support in any way to make that happen.
Counseling is studied and shown has a huge means to get through abuse. My advice for this topic would be to choose wisely. There are a lot of professional counselors who are more about living in the past and sulking in that victim mentality. Find someone who is going to walk through that journey of healing BUT be more focused on moving forward and personal success versus living in the past.
Do your research. Just by looking at the facts above - you are not alone. In these moments I know it can feel like you are the only one and that you are so different, but you are not. I promise you. Find a support group or a source where you feel understood and that someone else actually knows what you are talking about.
I am very passionate about this and I am so thankful there is more research out there of these benefits. Struggling with an eating disorder I learned how much imbalance was created. It only increases all of the symptoms of insecurities, self-doubt, fear, anxiety, etc. But when that is switch to a BALANCED perspective of activity and health it can add tremendous value to your healing journey. I want to share with you a recent study on the impact of physical activity.
The National Women's Health Information Center reports that child abuse is the leading cause of injury to American women and that nearly one-third of American women have been physically assaulted at some point in their lives. Literature supports the use of physical activity in promoting psychological well-being.
The purpose of this study, then, was to evaluate the influence of physical activity on how survivors of abuse view themselves and their circumstances. The participants were seven women (18 to 54 years) who had been abused, on average for eleven years. The participants were given access to an exercise facility and participated in one, two, three, or four interviews at one-month intervals.
Interview questions covered abuse history, physical activity levels, self-view, emotional status, and how exercise may have influenced these factors. Qualitative analysis of 11 participants' responses revealed that exercise gave women the perception of healing, "getting out of trauma mode," of working towards a future self, "moving towards the vision of the type of person that I want to be," and freedom.
Exercise improved their self-view by demonstrating to them that they were advancing beyond their abuse-controlled lives; that they were taking care of themselves. Women found exercise an effective means of "eliminating nervous energy" that resulted from being broken women, which in turn improved emotional status. Results are discussed in terms of the unique benefits derived from physical activity by these women, how exercise enhanced their recovery, and suggestions made by participants as to how the benefits of exercise could be fully realized for healing.
I challenge you to not be another statistic. To fight for your freedom. To be an advocate for others. Every person who has experience abuse in their life is going to have a different journey than the next. This is not telling you that I have the answers or that these are the only steps to healing. I am sharing my story, so that maybe it helps someone with the same struggles I had.
I also want to share that I am healthy, I have a healthy marriage, I love life and adventures, and I walk in freedom. It didn't happen overnight my friends, and that's ok. I also believe there are different levels of healing. When I shared my story for the first time, when I came out of depression, when I learned a healthy lifestyle, when I met the man I was going to marry, when I actually got married- all of those events brought about more layers of healing.
I promise you one day you will look back at your story and be proud of who you are because of your choice to NOT BE another statistic.