Survivor Spotlight: Tamra Wade
(July 15, 2014) -- For many survivors of sexual assault, talking with others and telling the story about what happened can be a crucial first step of the healing process. Sometimes, deciding who to talk to and trust can be difficult. Tamra Wade, a RAINN Speakers Bureau member, shares how she developed positive and open communication with family members and loved ones as part of her healing process.
Child sexual abuse survivor Tamra Wade has made it her life’s mission to foster and encourage open communication among family and loved ones. Although she was initially met with resistance and distrust when she was younger and tried to tell her story, she says now that open communication with people she trusts has helped her thrive as a survivor.
“If the people you love don’t understand, seek help and guidance from a therapist or other trusted source. Recovery will be different for each person and for each family. In my case, I finally found adults who believed me, and who helped me start putting my life back together,” Tamra says.
Tamra urges family members to listen when a survivor decides to speak out. “First and foremost for parents, believe your child. Tell your child, ‘I believe you.’ Verify that your child is no longer in danger. If your child is still in danger, work to remove the threat.”
Still, not everyone will be receptive or understanding. Survivors can look for support systems in many forms. “’Family’ could be a friend, a mentor or a therapist,” said Tamra. “Knowing that you may never have the communication you desire from a blood-related family member, you are free to choose people who can be important to build trust.”
Inspired by her experience from her childhood, Tamra now runs a blog and radio show dedicated to supporting open communication between mothers and daughters. “I started my blog, Paper Hope, when my oldest daughter was in high school,” said Tamra. “I began by sharing stories with her from my high-school journal. I wanted to create a safe place to discuss any subject. I want my daughters to know that even though I am ‘old’ in their eyes, I remember being their age.” Since then, the Paper Hope blog and Tamra’s two internet radio shows have attracted many followers and continue to inspire mothers and daughters to communicate and build strong relationships.
To other survivors, Tamra says, “Don’t keep your story locked up. Journaling was one of the best tools I have used over the years. It’s a great place to start to sort out your feelings.” She also emphasizes the importance of finding the courage to be vulnerable and open to empathy.
“It took me years and years to find the right friend group, the right therapists and the right partner to share my life with. It was worth the work. I am safe. I am well. I am happy living as a survivor.”