Taylor Livingston grew up in Dexter, Michigan before going to school at Bowling Green State University. She did gymnastics from the ages of 3-21 before she retired and found her calling working with Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients.
What has been integral to your personal healing?
Seeing how many other survivors of sexual abuse there are has helped me accept what happened was not my fault, and I think that has been the most integral part of my healing. Before knowing how many others there were, I could not process what had happened because if something was wrong, then I had been fooled. Be smart was something I had always prided myself on and in those moments I had failed to be so. It took me a long time to realize that wasn’t the case. Seeing others struggling as bad as I did to accept it was real made me realize it wasn’t because I was dumb and it wasn’t something I caused. Being able to admit it happened was a big first step for me, and then being about to accept and share it became vital to my healing.
What’s one way someone can be a better ally to survivors of sexual abuse?
It is definitely important for everyone to realize that no two sexual abuse victims experience the exact same traumas. Each individuals experiences are his or her own and thus, their recovery is also his or her own. I personally found that my most difficult moments were when people tried to rush my healing. I to this day have my problems with it and the more someone tries to make me just be okay, the harder it is for me to feel like I am. When I’m rushed, I begin to feel like a burden and like I’m taking too much time for other people. As a result, the trauma continues. Patience with a sexual abuse survivor is key. No matter how long it takes, just support him or her, and let them heal at whatever pace he or she is capable of. No one can know 100 percent what the person’s experience was, so to give him or her a timeline of healing is unrealistic.
How has seeing the support of the other survivors affected you?
The support of other survivors has helped me tremendously. Being able to talk with people about the situation and know they weren’t going to judge me, really helped me get comfortable with starting to be able to talk about it. It was also good to talk to other survivors about their other sexual abuse cases, as many of the girls were involved in others after Nassar. This was particularly important to me because knowing I had been part of more than one tortured my head. It was only later I found out it’s common that a sexual abuse survivor has more than one experience with it because the first one wires the brain to just survive because that’s what you know to do. That’s what your mind was taught. It helped me a ton to see I most certainly was not the only one this happened too.