Stories that Matter presents Christina Kimbrough, a survivor of sexual assault. Christina was sexually abused when she was in college. Christina wants other victims of sexual assault to know that: “ Recovery is absolutely possible. It may take work, but you can overcome. Also, healthy relationships are also possible. Just know you aren't alone."
Please share your story about sexual abuse (please give as much information as you would like)
Almost 10 years ago when I was in college I was out with drinking and dancing the night away at a bar. I'm very social and in college loved going out with a lot of people, so I invited a good guy friend of mine. We'd gone to grade school together and knew each others families well. It was summer and we were also training for a marathon together and doing long runs every weekend. I was texting my friend off and on all night to come hang with us. He kept telling me he'd show up. Finally he did about a half hour before the bar closed. I lived within walking distance of the bar, so when the night ended he offered to walk me home. My friends and I thought this was a nice gesture. So, we walked home, and when I unlocked the door and went to go inside he followed me. I thought this was strange but brushed it off. I went to get water and turned around to find him looming over me. Unfortunately, he proceeded to sexually assault me until my grandma who I was living with at the time came down because she heard the commotion. He immediately ran. I never confronted him or shared this story because I was intoxicated at the time. I also did have an orgasm during the assault and believed that it couldn't have been an assault if that happened. I've since learned that's just not true. I had no interest in this person romantically, no interest beyond a friendship. After hearing other women share their stories I decided to speak out. Through much therapy, and self-love and acceptance, I have processed this trauma and share my story in hopes that others who have experienced something similar will feel less alone.
What are some of mental challenges that follow along with sexual abuse - how do you cope?
I would say that dating after my incident was difficult at first. Getting intimate with a new partner was scary due to my assault. I had to learn to set boundaries, and advocate for myself and know what I wanted. This definitely took time and therapy.
What tools, tactics, people, have you used to stay uplifted and get through these tough situations?
I did cognitive behavioral therapy and still do to work through my anxious thoughts and learned to reframe them. I meditate daily, to help me get and stay grounded. Meditation has helped me reconnect with my body. Trauma often causes us to disassociate, and being mindful has been life changing. I'd also have to say that I follow amazing women on IG that inspire me daily. Some examples are @mikzaon @ kenziebrenna, @thebirdspapaya, and @danaemercer. I also listen to uplifting podcasts that also teach me how to grow and take care of myself. I'm currently listening to: Ten Percent Happier, Good Life Project, Feel Better Live More, Almost 30 and Mayim Bialeks Breakdown. I've also read A LOT! Some books that have helped my healing journey are Brene Brown's Daring Greatly, How to Do the Work, Dr. Nicole LePera, and The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel van der Kolk.
I also have an amazing support system of friends and my loving husband. Lastly, spirituality has definitely helped. I've leaned into learning about Buddhisim to aid in my recovery. Also, sharing my story publicly has helped me process immensely, it's helped me know I'm not alone.
What would you tell other people that have experienced sexual abuse - to motivate then to stay uplifted?
Recovery is absolutely possible. It may take work, but you can overcome. Also, healthy relationships are also possible. Just know you aren't alone.
What does this month mean to you - sexual assault awareness month?
I'm so grateful for this month. Sexual Assault unfortunately is very widespread and often goes unreported. Raising awareness for this issue helped me know I am not alone. It helps to see others who have gotten through a similar story.
Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Recovery is not always linear meaning it can be hard at times, and feel like it's taking awhile, but always remember to be kind to yourself.