Hello, My name is Darlene Correia. I am a mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, niece, friend, social worker, and wife. However, more importantly, I am survivor of multiple childhood and adult sexual abuse and domestic violence assaults.
My healing journey from considering myself a victim to knowing I am a survivor has been a long, painful and at times extremely difficult voyage. It is hard to conceive the person I am now is the same person who first endured sexual abuse at the age of ten.
The consequences of being sexually abused at such a young age has had multiple effects on my life. I have had difficulty trusting people, as well as establishing and maintaining relationships. In addition, I became promiscuous in my teenage years, I believe to have some type of control over my life. For as long as I can remember, until recently, I have kept people at a distance. The fear of being so intimately betrayed remained for decades. I always ended up in some type of abusive relationship, whether it was physical, verbal, emotional abuse, or a combination of all three.
My journey to becoming the strong, outspoken woman I am today has been a battle that has left many scars, both physically and emotionally. However, I wear those scars proudly as badges of honor in the war against the abusers in the world. I have discovered that when people in my life learned of the indescribable experiences I had endured, many were in denial and many decided I should have been stronger and shut me out of their lives. Throughout my journey, I have lost my home of sixteen years, attempted to commit suicide three times, because I could no longer deal with the pain of the abuse and lived in a shelter for a while.
I have experienced many bumps in the road to recovery and being able to call myself a true survivor and not a victim. I truly believe the largest pothole in the road to recovery occurred in 2008. I will spare the details; however, my abuser was incarcerated for 18 months, with subsequent parole and probation. I ended up with eight staples in my head, broken left cheekbone and permanent and worsening nerve damage to my back.
I earned my Masters in Social Work and Certificate of Graduate Studies in Non-Profit in 2017, and my LCSW in 2018, to help others become survivors and not victims. I have also established my own non-profit organization called Take Back Your Life. I hold annual fundraisers and all proceeds benefit sexual assault and domestic violence survivors in the community. In addition, I have done public speaking and meant incredibly strong individuals along my journey who will be lifelong friends. I know everything happens for a reason and I know the reason for my enduring the abuse for, so many years was to shape me into the strong woman I am today. There are days when I recall some of the situations I have been through and want to crawl into a big ball and stay in bed. However, I remember all that I have overcome and that remaining in the victim mode gives the abuser continued power. I have in my own way forgiven all my abusers so that I can move on in my life in a positive direction. I will never forget what they did to me, but I refuse to let the abusers control my life any longer.
Every person, male or female, that has endured any form of personal violence or abuse has their own road to travel. It may be difficult to talk about at first and to get passed the self-blame and loathing stage. I think one of the most important things for any victim of abuse can remember is you are not alone and there is a world of people who are willing to help.
It has been a long journey, but I know I had to experience the rocky roads to become stronger and appreciate the smooth sailing even more.
Survivors are often criticized or not believed for not coming forward immediately. Unless an individual has experienced sexual assault or domestic violence, you cannot truly understand the impact the trauma has on all areas of someone’s life. At times the mind blocks out memories as a survival defense mechanism. Often an individual, such as myself, is threatened with death to family members or him or herself.
Individuals who are under the misconception that domestic violence and sexual assault do not impact them need to wake up. It is important to show every gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic level, and any other label society applies, is touched by these issues.
I am certain many people are tired of my constant talking about domestic violence and sexual assault; however, I will not stop speaking out due to others discomfort. Well, try to think how victims of domestic violence feel daily, not knowing if today will be the day their abuser makes good on their threats. Yes, I have been one of the fortunate survivors to move forward; however, there are countless others who are not ready to speak or have lost the opportunity to do so. Instead of sitting around constantly saying something must be done and changed, you can be the change! Actions speak louder than words. The reason for the epidemics continuing to spread are partially due to society’s turning away and not wanting to discuss the issues. Silence must be broken NOW!!
As previously stated, I have been fortunate to move forward and return to college, after a 35-year break, to become a LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker). Previously, I worked in the legal field for approximately 20 years. I experienced first-hand how the legal system works relative to trauma and that is why I returned to college to become a social worker/therapist. I currently work with level two and three male sex offenders. Most of my clients experienced severe trauma in their formative years, which contributed to their crimes. There is no excuse for their crimes. However, I have been told by most that the sexual assaults and domestic violence they committed had nothing to do with sex. It was all about power and control and wanting others to feel the pain they felt.
WHY?? WHY?? WHY SHOULD I CARE ABOUT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND WHY SHOULD I TAKE ACTION????
Every nine seconds a woman is abused.
ONE in FOUR women in the U.S. will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, most frequently by someone they know. ONE out of FIVE of murder victims in the U.S. were killed by an intimate partner; women account for TWO out of THREE murder victims killed by an intimate partner.
3.3 Million: Estimated number of children in the U.S. each year that witness violence against their mother or female caretaker by a family member.
In conclusion, I want to state that it does not matter if someone is Democrat, Republican or Independent. Individuals need to be more caring about others who have experienced trauma. Trauma has no statute of limitations and unless you have lived it, do not judge others.
Thank you for your time.