In recent months, a bevy of women and men have come forward accusing powerful men like Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Brett Ratner of sexual misconduct, abuse and even rape. Fitness trainer Shaun T can relate, as he was sexually abused as a child. In a new interview, he expresses his gratitude that other victims are coming forward and sharing their stories, not only because it can give them a sense of relief, but that it can also be incredibly empowering.
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“The more you keep it hidden inside and the more you keep it hidden in your closet the less power you have. So it’s about taking your power back,” the 39-year-old told People. “Unleash your power.”
Shaun T, who opens up about abuse in his new memoir, “T Is for Transformation,” was molested from the age of eight until 12. He started therapy at age 26 and began to come to terms with what happened to him.
“What gave me the strength to share my story is when I actually overcame that abuse and I went to therapy. And then I looked back at that 8-year-old boy, and I was like, he’s actually the strongest person I know,” he said. “So I went back and I visited little Shauny. And I said thank you. Thank you for being strong to get me where I am today.”
Despite the fact that it’s incredibly hard to open up about sexual assault, Shaun is confident that the brave men and women coming forward with their stories are also helping other people.
“One of the things that people ask me a lot is: Why didn’t you say anything? And, obviously, I talk about in the book why I didn’t say anything. But the more people talk about it, the more people will say it,” he said. “They’ll feel free to know that other people have been through this too and you’re not alone. The more people who talk about it, the more you feel like you have an army of people behind you that can support you. And I’m one of those people that can support you.”
In addition to talking with others, experts recommend seeking professional help to deal with sexual trauma — sooner rather than later. “Some of the more easily identifiable benefits to doing this include shortened treatment time, quicker recovery and less time spent missing out on life,” writes Elyssa Barbash, Ph.D., on Psychology Today. “From a clinical perspective, the amount of suffering and distress is substantially reduced when a person seeks treatment earlier on.”
Research shows that 70 percent of sexual assault survivors experience moderate or severe distress — which is higher than for any other crime. Even more alarming, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center claims that 33 percent of women who are raped contemplated suicide, are six times more likely to use cocaine and 10 times more like to use other major drugs than the general public. Which is why it’s vital to start the healing process as soon as possible.
But Shaun T is proof that there is life after trauma. The Insanity workout mastermind, who recently revealed all of his secrets to fitness success to LIVESTRONG.COM’s Jess Barron, is about to become a first-time dad to twins with husband Scott Blokker. The two just celebrated their babies-to-be with a clever “twinsanity” themed baby shower.
If you are a victim of sexual abuse and want to talk to someone about it, please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673. Or find more helpful information from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
What Do YOU Think?
How do you feel about all the recent sexual assault reportings? Do you agree with Shaun T that opening up about it is empowering? Do you have a personal experience with sexual assault? Did talking about it help you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.