Have you experienced events in your life that are so horrible that you believe you’re broken beyond repair? Do you think that you can never live a ”normal” life, let alone a life of happiness and success? Erika Gilchrist has been there and she’s on a mission to show you how you too can move beyond those events and become truly unstoppable!
Q: What happened in your life that transformed you from victim to unstoppable?
Erika: My story seems like something that was made for a movie. I was a little girl with big dreams who grew up with humble beginnings and was sexually violated repeatedly by people who were supposed to be there to protect me. As a result, I grew up very confused about the role that men were supposed to play in my life. Even worse, I wasn’t sure what role I was to play in the lives of others. I began a downward spiral of mistrust, defensiveness, and complete sadness. As I got older, I began to notice how utterly possessed I was in getting people to like me. I became a CHRONIC PEOPLE PLEASER, and often times the things I needed to do for myself fell by the wayside. That forced me to work harder for less money, and I became completely overwhelmed. This lead to a breakdown that ultimately sent me to seek professional help. And through the years of digging through all of the baggage, lies, mistrust, and shame, something miraculous happened. I was curled up in a corner on the floor feeling the worst emotional pain that I had ever experienced when I heard a voice so clearly that I thought there was someone else in the room. It sternly said, “Erika, you’re better than this. Get up!” The only word I can think of that could describe how I felt after hearing that voice is “UNSTOPPABLE.” And in that moment, The Unstoppable Woman was born.
Q: Victims of sexual abuse often bury their story because they feel in some way responsible or unworthy. What is your advice for anyone who still hiding their truth?
Erika: First, know that it wasn’t (and still isn’t) your fault! To have something so precious taken from you without your permission is enough to drive a person into a walking state of silent insanity. It’s a world where nothing makes sense. Second, know that you are not alone. There are hundreds of thousands of people who have experienced the same tragedy and are keeping silent because of the fear of being exposed, embarrassment, vulnerability, and shame. Join a discreet support group. You may do an internet search or go to MeetUp.com and locate one in your area. Lastly, forgive that person (or persons). It doesn’t mean that what they did is excused; it just means that your life is too precious to waste another millisecond in the role of victim. Forgiveness isn’t for them. It’s for you.
Q: What can someone who truly cares do to help an adult friend when they learn about their childhood experience?
Erika: Refrain from saying, “I know how you feel” if you haven’t experienced it. Listen with an open heart, offer your support, and help them to find a professional who can help them to work through it. Also, don’t patronize them because of it. It’s bad enough they have lived with it for so long. They don’t need people to feel sorry for them.
Q: What is your advice for victims who are ready to move out of the darkness that has been their life?
Erika: First, congratulations for making that decision for yourself! Depending on where you are with it, you may choose to take it slow and talk with just one trusted source, or you may be ready for a group. Or, you may want to do lectures about it, or write a book to expose this under-represented epidemic. Either way, start talking.
Q: Can you provide 2-3 resource links that you believe are the most helpful for victims of sexual abuse?