Nicole's Story

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“I know that there’s something higher for me and my life keeps getting better and better.”

Nicole is strongly connected to her Peruvian heritage and is dedicated to her faith community. She is also a survivor of child sexual abuse.

She experienced grooming and sexual abuse by an older cousin when she was 10 years old. He told her that what was happening was a game. When she took a sex education class in high school, she realized that what had happened to her was sexual assault.

She didn’t tell anyone about what happened, but when she started experiencing panic attacks regularly, she knew she had to get help.

When Nicole was 15, she decided to tell her mom, but was worried about her reaction and that she might get in trouble.

“She was shocked and was skeptical at first. She called my aunt, the mother of the cousin who assaulted me, and asked her if what I said was true. My cousin confessed to the abuse, and only then did my mom believe me.”

Nicole wanted to report the assault but her mom said that it would break her aunt’s heart to see her son go to prison for what he did.

“My mom was protecting my aunt, not me.”

In addition to the panic attacks, Nicole experienced PTSD, anxiety, and depression after the abuse.

“Even hearing the name of the person who abused me would trigger me. The anxiety attacks were the worst part of it all. It would be a pounding in my chest and sharp needles going through my body. I would just lay in bed feeling paralyzed until it went away.”

When she told a friend about the abuse, the friend told Nicole to seek out new sexual experiences to try to forget about the abuse, which influenced Nicole to go through a period of promiscuity in her 20s.

“It was an outlet for me. I was trying to find someone who could heal me. When my cousin raped me, he took away the meaning of sex.”

 

Nicole had a healing experience with a partner who was patient and understanding.

“We had a powerful connection. She made it all feel so easy and comfortable. It didn’t last, but she brought back the meaning of sex and love for me and I am so thankful to her for that. She truly came into my life for a reason.”

Though she found some healing in this relationship, Nicole still struggled with mental health concerns, including ADHD and bipolar disorder.

“I couldn’t cope. I lost everything—my job, my car, I had no money, my mom and dad didn’t let me back in the house, so I was sleeping on my aunt’s couch. I was in a deep depression.”

One day Nicole slipped and hit her head on ice.

“As I lay on the ice, I looked up to the sky and prayed. I said ‘I’m here, I’m listening to whatever you want me to do.’” The next day Nicole called her therapist and committed to doing whatever was needed for her mental health.

“When I got off the phone with my therapist, I hugged my grandma and cried, cried, cried. She hugged me so tight and I felt incredible warmth and healing energy. It was the most profound sense of peace I’d had since the abuse happened.”

Nicole has felt a great connection with her faith since that turning point in her life.

“I don’t know if anyone can understand this, but my faith healed me. I just know that I’ll be okay. I’m no longer just trying to survive, life is about living everyday to your greatest potential.”

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