Soaring Above The Ashes: Thriving Beyond Childhood Sexual Abuse

The idea of child sexual abuse is so loathsome that people tell themselves it doesn’t really happen that often. I wanted to document the truth. It happens. A lot. One out of four girls and one in six boys is sexually abused by the age of eighteen. Children from every ethnicity, religion, race, socioeconomic group and geographical location are abused. No group is immune. No one is the only one.

We often see victims as damaged goods, broken beyond repair. Too often, victims see themselves that way. Soaring Above The Ashes shatters that myth of brokenness by celebrating extraordinary “ordinary” people who have moved beyond their abuse to create joyful and empowered lives.

Rather than holding tight to the secret, we speak openly about our struggles with the unspeakable: the story of our abuse, how we were shaped by it, and what we’ve done to heal. We describe the journey from helplessness to empowerment, from isolation to connection, from grief to joy. By giving our names, telling our stories, and showing our faces we proclaim our triumph—our abusers can no longer silence us. Neither can shame or fear. Sharing our story is an act of liberation. We have taken the burden of shame off of our shoulders and put it where it belongs—on the backs of our abusers, the silent bystanders, and the culture of secrecy.

In black-and-white portraits, our faces tell stories, too. They are proud faces, free of shame. Each of us is saying, “Look me in the eye. It happened, and it didn’t break me. I’ve done my work to heal…and so can you!

If we face the past with compassion for the children we were, we can become strong in the broken places—wiser, more resilient, and even joyful.

It is possible to heal from sexual abuse.

Join us. Share the secret. Together our voices can change the world.