Letting Go: Forgive Yourself
No one is ever ruined for life, even though it feels helpless and impossible. The mantra needs to be: "It was not my fault." Every day is a new beginning, and it's never too late. You must believe this! Don't endow the person responsible for this with continued power over you—break away. The only one holding you back is you!

The Glass Is Full: Turn Adversity into Strength
The remarkable thing is that what you will learn from this will make you a more powerful person. Ironically, [my husband] Curtis would not be the man he is today if it wasn't for his victimization and recovery. My husband is my hero. Though Curtis' personal story is somewhat sensational, he has chosen to share his experiences and has been speaking publicly about abuse and recovery. He has worked with government and social service agencies, local and national law enforcement, judicial offices and parent organizations to erase the stigma of being victimized, help keep children safe, encourage men to speak out and seek help, advocate for victims services and revolutionize sex offender management.

Because he speaks, our daughter Jenny speaks. Diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome in fifth grade, she found many challenges upon entering middle school, with relentless teasing and ridicule from her classmates. However, following her dad's example, Jenny had the courage to speak publicly at her school on what it's like to live with a disability, and as a result, garnered respect and empathy from her school and peers. You never know how far your work reaches. What gift do you have?

It Takes Time: Understand That Recovery Is an Ongoing Process
Unfortunately, recovery does not happen overnight—it's a process that builds upon itself. You must also realize that for every two steps forward, there might be one step back. Allow yourself to feel sad for the slips, but celebrate and focus on the forward movement. From a spouse's point of view, it is not an easy road, and a lot depends upon timing, support, patience, humor, perseverance and love, but most of all hope—hope to believe that all things are possible. Come out of the shadows—you can be who you were meant to be.

Let the healing begin.

More about sexual abuse
Ilene and Curtis share their personal struggle 
The lasting effects of male sexual abuse
How to help your partner cope with male sexual abuse


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