By Bethany Hudson

My name is Bethany Hudson. Today I give you my story of strength, self-love, and honesty. When I was a child, I was sexually abused by someone close to me. Not only was he my babysitter, but he was also my mother's boyfriend. My family loved him. He bought us gifts, he looked after me and my siblings when my Mom was working one of her three jobs; he was part of our family. His relationship with my mother did not extend for much longer, for she later met my now stepfather.

I never told anyone about the abuse, even after his absence. I didn't know what to think of it really. Compared to other happenings going on in my life, it seemed less important, so naturally I put it on the back burner for over a decade. When I was in my early 20's, I was experiencing severe anxiety and depression. I was having multiple anxiety attacks on a daily basis. It began to effect my performance in school, work, and society. I began to neglect the things that were good for me and my health. My sister was and continues to be one of my biggest supporters. She was worried about my health and helped me find a cognitive and behavioral therapist in town. I went to my therapist for about a year and a half. I was prescribed anti-anxiety medication as well as anti-depressants through my primary doctor in the meantime. After 6 months of therapy, I opened up to my therapist about my abuse. I was not expecting to talk about it considering I had never told anyone, but I knew I was not going to get any healthier by staying silent.

My mother and I have always had a strained relationship. In a way, I held my abuse against her because I felt like it happened right beneath her nose. After all, she was dating my abuser and allowed him to live in our home. Both of my parents took the news very hard. My father had speculations when I was growing up that some sort of abuse was happening, but being a divorced, single-father in the early 90's, he had very little say against my mother. I wrote my mother a letter because I couldn't bare the thought of seeing her reaction.

Months after coming out of my "abuse closet" I felt relieved. But I was still very depressed. Since my family was aware of the abuse, we discussed it way more than I wanted to. I was having dreams about my abuser's face more and more frequently, and reliving nights of abuse when I laid into bed. Eventually the pain took over, and I decided to attempt suicide. I took an excessive amount of pain medication in the hopes of not feeling anything. I got scared and reached out to anyone who would listen. I was admitted to a mental hospital for 10 days where I had to learn to love myself. It was a hard realization, but incredibly worth it. We did lots of pet, music, and group therapy; yoga and meditation.

I will never forget hearing something that quite possibly changed my life. "In order to heal yourself, you must love yourself." This has proven to be so motivating as I still continue to become the person I want to be. After I was released from the hospital, I knew something needed to change, so I decided to quit my job, college, dump my boyfriend and really my overall life in Columbus, Ohio. Only skiing once before, I spontaneously bought a one-way plane ticket to become a ski bum in Alta, Utah. I met some wonderful friends and my amazing boyfriend. That was almost three years ago, and now I am happily living in a small rural town in Northern Idaho. Today, I try and help as many people as I can with my story in the hopes of it helping someone in need. I can only hope and pray that for the rest of my life, I help young men and women who feel trapped because of their abuse. Life is waiting for you once you break the silence.

Thank you for listening.

Sincerely,

Bethany Hudson

11/16/17