you have grown used to plastering a smile on your face
reminding everyone that you are doing just okay
but the minute that they let go of your gaze is
when you struggle to bring that same joy to yourself
perhaps you feel as though your inner thoughts
have cut off all of your circulation and your ability
to vocalize what is scattered along the corners of your mind
so you eventually find yourself in this cycle that gets no recognition
but you cannot reach your full potential being afraid of vulnerability
there will be times when you feel compelled to express yourself
because somewhere within you there was a door that crept open
that held your self-confidence but for whatever reason you could not see it
you see there will be moments when the door to confidence is anything
but possible to open and you will feel exhausted at the number of times
that you tried to see the possibility of it all again
i am telling you now that you are stronger than you may think
and your persistence to find confidence is not to be ignored
think about it
the time that you have felt discouraged towards moving forward
but something happens that stops you in your tracks
big or small
whatever it was somehow brought that smile back to your face
you did not expect it to be that simple but it was
allow that to be the reminder that centers your intrusive thoughts
every emotion that washes over us is temporary
the lessons that we learn throughout the journey of life
will stay with us much longer
you deserve to smile

Poet Paige Cary

you finally found what slipped from you without your knowledge
it took some time to remember but you have to know
that you had to go for a little while
at the moment of destruction your higher being
knew that it was time to step in
not that you lacked the strength to be rid of this pain
that was beginning to seep into you
but there is a part of yourself that sees all things that exist
beyond what you can comfortably hold onto in real-time
the truth has a way of shrinking you down
by making it close to impossible to believe that
you are entirely worthy of a peaceful life
while you never thought it would happen to you
the stories that belonged to all the other names
always left a pit that had no ending in your stomach
you could only imagine the sheer anguish that
took over another who had been violated
never was it your truth to carry
but only a hand to be held for support
until the table changed positions bringing you to the head
with the spotlight beaming on you in a way that left you exposed beyond belief
the story that was once a faraway tale that loomed alongside your fears
now transmuted into your own complex story to piece together
your memory became hazy in ways that you never experienced before
the act was debilitating but it was the waves that came
with the aftermath that left you incapable of moving forward
the world around you rapidly flashed by without consideration of your new reality
everything that you thought you knew about yourself seemed foreign
you never thought the day would come when you would lose trust in yourself
but there you were running away from what they did to you
without understanding that you were only trying to protect yourself
from reliving the tragedy over and over again
but it got to the point that this became your daily routine
escaping to cope only allowed the wound to twist itself around your center
instead of going inward you found solace in mimicking
the pain you felt when your body shut down to their touch
jump starting the patterns of doing anything to replicate that feeling upon yourself
failing to get it just right since you were not the one to torment yourself to no end
all this did was cover you in bruises that left its marks along your skin
your neglected mind needed you to wake up and pay attention
as soon as you remember who you are that is when you can bloom back into yourself
resistance towards honoring what you deserved in that moment will be present often
but holding space for that truth will bring the opportunity to mend what was taken from you


you should have never been handed the cards of being the being
that needed to grow up before the ones you were surrounded by
being young with a mind that has molded at a pace that was beyond your control
only left you staggering in a way that was meant to slow down to be steady
more than anything you wanted to exist in real time without panicking
about the world seeing what can make you crumble if you drift back to the dark place
you want to forget but you found a home in that dark place
you knew which way to go in that space
the nightmares that leeched onto you against your will
ring at a frequency that is deafening to bare alone
of course you tried to escape this tortuous site
but your feet left your mind behind as they led you to the twisted truth
your greatest fears happened
not once
not twice
but thrice
the charm of three found a way to gut you from the inside out
there you are weaving around these horrors
doing whatever it takes to look away at what had happened to you
but being an owner in the dark place means running away is a game that fools play
the exhaustion settles in quicker than anticipated and your eyes grow heavy
at the sight of foreign beings entering your sacred temple
listening as you say no but the rhythm seems to pick up more
maybe you were not heard clearly enough
the word that is a full-blown sentence yet
it is the one word that seems to baffle the abuser to no end
being a bystander within the dark place
you are in awe at how life slipped from your eyes
after the desperate attempts to have these attacks come to a halt
your body became a shell of itself
a protective shield encapsulated around your spirit to keep you as safe as can be
watching the act in its entirety has become the most significant feature that plays in your mind
as the loops of your trauma move backward and forward
there is a dim light that is almost too faint to be seen inside the heart of this gloomed filled space
but it catches your attention enough to yank yourself free of the pain that has seeped into you
you hesitate as you approach the light
it is as if you have forgotten what it feels like to be embraced by the warmth of new possibilities
before you reach out to grasp this light
there are shadows of figures lingering through the entrance to this new beginning

Poet Paige Cary

there is a familiarity that bombards you
you see yourself
your thirteen-year-old self
your nineteen-year-old self
and your twenty-five-year-old self
but standing shyly behind these versions of you
you notice a little girl
the curls of her hair dance around her chocolate-splashed face
each of you making room for her and giving her the time to step forward to look at you
she examines you with a sense of curiosity that only a child could do so well
there is zero judgment that exudes from this girl
all at once she breaks into a smile that unlocks what has been hidden
the only words that fall from her are that
she wants you to follow her out of the darkness and you can trust her guidance
you willingly follow and take one final glance at what has to be left behind
there is fear that is attached to walking away from what has harmed us
we know that sort of agony better than any other experience that has found its way to us
but when the trust that is placed within yourself begins to fall into alignment
a sense of peace will wash over you and give you the chance
to be reintroduced to who you are today because this version of you
can finally give grace to where you have been and make room for where you are going

Poet Paige Cary

to every person who has been
sexually harassed
or raped
i want you to know that my heart beats with yours
i promise you that myself
and so many others stand behind your experience
my story is valid
and your story is valid
my pain is real
and your pain is real
my voice deserves to be heard
and so does yours
if you are ashamed and feel as though you are unable to use your voice
that is okay
nobody has the power to make you speak out if you are not ready to
there is no time limit for the healing process
continue to take every single day
one day at a time
we survived the worst
and we can only grow from here
some may think that speaking out about rape culture is a lost cause
but i disagree on too many levels
we cannot continue to condone that sort of thinking anymore
it is a new day
and survivors will no longer be silenced
quit justifying the actions of people who can violate another person’s boundaries
we do not care about what you have to say
it will always be wrong
stand with survivors
the only way a difference will become a reality is when victim-blaming is no more
there is power in numbers
so stand with me and the beautiful people who have gone through trauma
and to my darlings who have gone through any of this


During the month of April 2023, which is #sexualassaultawarenessmonth and #childabusepreventionmonth, we will feature original works created for the 1 in 3 Foundation by artist Paige Cary. Paige’s art will be a part of our “Your Voice Matters” Program, encouraging other survivors to speak up and out. Her poems and short stories will be displayed on our blog once a week during April at

Artist Paige Cary

Meet Paige Cary, the Philadelphia-based artist who discovered her love for storytelling at the young age of ten when she first stepped into an acting class. As she grew into her teenage years, Paige found herself with a journal in hand, capturing the free-flowing thoughts that came to her mind. Though acting was her passion, writing became an inseparable part of her creative soul.This unrelenting drive to express herself led Paige to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in acting from the prestigious AMDA College and Conservatory of the Performing Arts in New York City and Los Angeles. However, after graduation, Paige realized that she needed to focus on her mental health and took a step back to heal from her past experiences.During this introspective period, Paige poured her heart and soul into writing and found solace in her debut poetry book, “A Paige in My Diary”. The book is a collection of powerful and poignant poetry that aims to spark conversations on taboo topics that people feel too ashamed to discuss.Paige believes that her creative mind is her most significant asset and strives to use her experiences to inspire and guide others to find their own voice. She is currently working on her second collection of poetry and her first fiction novel, all while pursuing her dreams of being an actress.As the years push forward, Paige looks forward to what the future holds for her as an artist, confident that her creative gifts will continue to expand and make a positive difference in the world.

TW/CW: Some poems may make mentionof sexual trauma and could be triggering for readers.

Written by Kendra Bennett, LPC

So, after my last blog post, I have been feeling extremely vulnerable.

I find after feeling all of the raw emotions from a trigger, I become extremely irritable, angry, judgmental, and quick to lash out at others. Sometimes I don’t even realize it until something is at the tip of my tongue and my shame is about to blow up all over someone else.

Let me take a minute to explain shame the “Brene Brown way.”

Shame is that little voice inside my head telling me I am not good enough, that I am damaged and broken. Telling me I am not worthy of love and belonging, telling me that I need to do whatever it takes to make sure people do not see the real me.  How do we do that? We use armor like we are going into battle! The problem is, this is a battle we are only fighting with ourselves and this armor doesn’t keep us safe. It keeps us disconnected from others. We have spent our lives thinking we are damaged, less than, broken, and irreparable. We unconsciously believe that if people were to get close enough to see our imperfections they would take off running in the other direction.

Linda Hartling calls these “Strategies for Disconnection.” Brene Brown calls them our “Shame Shields.” When we feel shame, we respond in one or more of these ways:

Moving Away – Withdrawing, hiding, silencing ourselves, and keeping secrets

Think back to your trauma: I did all of the above in an attempt to avoid connecting with others out of fear that they will see “the broken me” believing I had a HUGE sign on my forehead telling everyone what was happening.)

Moving Toward – Seeking to please people

You know when you are constantly dancing and performing for everyone around you? Trying to be everything for everyone and completely neglecting yourself? This allows me to NOT pay attention to myself. The more people like me the more value I must have.

Moving Against – Trying to gain power over others, being aggressive, using shame to fight shame

I hate to admit this but I do this. We all do this. If I am hurting (real or perceived hurt), I go here. Usually it takes a bit to recognize that I am trying to bring someone into my pain.


So now what?

You have to speak your story.  You have to find someone you trust, someone you can talk to and tell your story to.  Someone who will sit in the story and hold it with you instead of create more shame. Someone who can say, “Tell me more”.

I would love nothing more than to tell you that once you do this everything will go away. But I am here, writing this post because I still have to be mindful of where I am emotionally. In a way, there is an end, there is an end to living in the past where you start looking towards the future.  The more we speak our stories the more power and control we have over them.  I know you are saying, “Yeah right!” Our stories can spin like a hamster wheel in our brains as that hamster wheel keeps getting thicker and thicker until it takes up all the space in our heads. The more we tell our story in trusted spaces, the more we connect with others, the more we connect with others, the less shame we feel and the more we feel we belong.  The less shame we feel, the stronger we are.  I can keep going, but what I really want to say is:

YOU have been so strong ALONE…

Is it not time to let someone help you?

From my own experience, there will be times when I need to call a friend (or my husband) and say “I think I am about to lose it.” I have found the more I lean on these people, the less I need to lean.  There will be days that I am not strong enough to continue to hold my story by myself. Those days still bring me down but not for long.

You can do this. You are precious. You are loved and you belong!

         Written by Kendra Bennett, LPC


I am sitting here at the computer for the second day in a row and starting this post again after writing, deleting, and rewriting it I don’t know how many times.  The events of the past week have triggered so many emotions within my heart and head as they have with a lot of people that I have spoken to.  I find myself thinking back to my own out-cries as a child when I was told, “You have to be making this up” and “There isn’t enough evidence to prove what you say.” Those thoughts have been spending way too much time in my brain the past week. As a therapist, I find myself struggling with my own triggers this week that led me to where I am at today.  See, I have triggers and I have been in a healthy place with them. I do my grounding exercises, I talk to my people, and I work out what I can.  I am in a healthy place with my past abuse.  That in no way means that I am over it, I will never be able to go back and have a different life, therefore; my past will always be just that: MY PAST. I choose what to do with my past!

The problem with triggers for me today was this, I was tired of being overwhelmed and controlled by my emotions this week. So, when a trigger, at church of all places, started, I fought it. I argued in my head and begged God to take it away, all while tears were running down my cheeks as I tightly clenched my husband’s hand. My muscles were tensed, my throat was shaking (you know that shake it does when your body really wants to full out ugly cry), but I was determined that this trigger was not going to win! I was not moving my seat to get away from the smell, I was not going to sit down so that I could feel like I was hiding: I just wasn’t! Then the worship leaders asked us to sit and had one last song to play. I knew what was coming. See one of the worship leaders is my people. The one I ugly cry to and a few weeks ago I sent her this amazing song that is currently my anthem song. Lauren Daigle’s “You Say”.

“You Say” by Lauren Daigle

She started singing the words and as everyone was sitting, I stood straight up, raising my arms and praying for the trigger to be gone.

I wish this is where I could say a beam of light shown from Heaven and God miraculously healed my trigger and I rejoiced. That isn’t what happened. The song ended, I sat down and as my friend walked from the back. I left my seat discretely walking behind the congregation with my head down, straight towards my person (Remember the lady who just sang the song? I LOVE her). I walked to her quickly and I think I said “I need you,” touched her hand and quickly walked to the church office. I barely got to the couch before the full-on ugly cry came.

See, by the time I got to the office all I could do was let it out. I was angry that a trigger was having so much control over me. Then, my friend said, this has been coming all week….

That being said, here is what I want to tell you. Whomever you are that is reading this post.
For survivors:

  2. We can NOT heal alone. It truly takes a village of supportive and loving people to walk with us, hold our hands, and be okay with our random breakdowns! Find those people, 1 in 3 is those people, I am that person and so are many others.

For everyone else:

  1. Teach Mutual Consent. Just because “no” is not said, does not mean yes. This protects you and them.
  2. Respect Survivors – Listen to their stories, no words are needed most of the time. The most healing part for me is having someone just let me tell my story while holding my hand.
  3. Memories – Trauma is different for everyone. Some people remember every detail and some don’t. I have one question for those who say “I can’t remember what I was doing 30 years ago.”

Do you remember where you were the day the World Trade Centers were hit with planes? What were you wearing? Doing? Working on?

That is a traumatic memory.  They are not all like that. The more threatened and afraid one feels, the more devastating the effects on the brain. This is individualized like all fears.

In conclusion, I want you to remember one thing. WE BELIEVE YOU! I believe you and there is joy and happiness and peace in the healing process.

Home is supposed to be your refuge, your safe space, your shield from the dangers of the world. Yet for many of us as sexual abuse survivors, home was the epicenter.

Research from The National Center for Victims of Crime found that 60 percent of children are sexually abused by someone in their social circle which can include a family friend, neighbor, babysitter or other care provider. The Department of Justice’s National Sex Offender Public Website reports that 30% of perpetrators are family members.

It was in my home as a child that I was sexually abused by my half-brother for a period of several years. It’s still difficult to comprehend, family hurting family, but when I share this with other survivors, I hear similar responses: “It was my father,” “It was my brother too,” “It was my cousin,” “It was my uncle.”

My abuser didn’t live with us year-round, but he spent his summers in our home, in my so-called safe space, and he was there for holidays and breaks from school. I didn’t have to look into his face every day, but it was still frequent enough to demolish that feeling of peace and comfort that every child should feel in their home. It was enough that I felt constant anxiety and fear in the days leading up to those visits and shame, guilt and still fear even after he was gone.

As an adult, I attended a family therapy session with my parents. My mother said something that was poetic almost in nature when I heard it. I had never thought about it in the manner that she used the words but it was the perfect description. “It was like torturing her,” she said. “It was torture for her to sleep in a room right next door to the person who was hurting her.” Yes, it was torture. It was physical, mental and emotional torture. She even recalled that there were nights she wanted to look in and check on me as I rested. She found my door locked. We were not that type of family that locked each other out, but at some point, the torture was more than I could take and I began locking my door at night.

No one should ever have to feel unsafe in their own room in their own bed.

I lament as I think of the others who held on to that same fear of the door opening to their room and shattered innocence. It is even worse when it is someone who is supposed to be in a position to take care of you, not hurt you.

Living under the same roof as my abuser wasn’t the only extent of the space we shared. I deal with triggers on a regular basis but the biggest in my life is one specific date on the calendar each and every year. It is supposed to be a day of celebration but, just like the feeling of comfort in my own home, that feeling of joy was robbed from my life as well for quite some time.

That date on the calendar every year that bothers me so much is my birthday. You see, I was born on the same date as the half-brother who molested me. The old joke in the family, of course before the revelations, was that I had been born on his day. I felt like the bandit, the thief who had taken something from him very early on. I will never try to rationalize his train of thought or the reasoning behind the why he did what he did, but I believe in my core that he hated me and part of it had to do with my entering the world on the day that I did. He was 10 years older, but still, like twins, it felt like we would forever be linked by a day in June.

When I was growing up, we did joint birthday parties. We blew out the candles on the cake, together. We posed for pictures and opened gifts, together. We had special family dinners, seated side by side, together. My parents had no idea what he was doing to me during those years. Again, torture seems like a fitting word.

The first birthday I remember feeling depressed was when I turned 17. It was a dismal day, in part because I had to wake up that morning and take the SAT’s. But later, after I had gotten some rest, I wasn’t excited to get my gift from my parents. He was an adult by then, not at our home and so I did not have to endure seeing him on that day, but still, there was a lingering sadness in my heart. I didn’t understand. My best friend and her boyfriend came by the house, ready to wheel me away to some fun that you can only truly have at the age of 17 on the verge of your senior year of high school. I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to leave the house. Instead, I sat at home in a chair in my living room and watched a baseball game. I got lost in the game. It’s funny, it’s almost 20 years since that date and I remember that game more than I remember anything else about my birthday. The Orioles were playing and my sports hero, Cal Ripken Jr., was on television.

There were other birthdays and celebrations. In my early 20’s, I was surrounded by friends and co-workers and I let them distract me.

When I met my now husband, the getaways began. I didn’t spend a single birthday at home or within a 100 mile radius of my parent’s home for five years in a row. I told myself those trips were my way of celebrating my day. It was finally about me. What those trips really were, were distractions and defense mechanisms. They were never small getaways, they were excursions. In many ways I was running away from my problems and my feelings. They were still there however, lurking underneath the surface no matter how I tried to numb them.

The past two years, as someone in recovery and continuing my healing journey, I’ve finally experienced the pain and heartache that had to be suppressed as a child and that I ran from as a young adult. They were not happy birthdays by a long shot. There were tears, some arguments with loved one, plans that exploded into chaos, but all of it was real. I was not running anymore. I faced it, painful as it was.

I grieved for the child that had her space and her day marred by sexual abuse. The muted voice of a child terrified to speak up was replaced by an agonizing scream.

So now, I turn it all over. I give up all that hurt and I’m taking my day back.

How? I have no idea. I have to laugh as I write this. I don’t have a clue what I’m going to do. I have made no special requests. My only plan is to no longer set expectations for the day. I will go through it, every hour, every minute, every second as it comes. I will accept birthday wishes and actually answer the phone when people call to shout “Happy Birthday” at me. I will listen to off-key singing and smile. This is for me and there are people who love me and want to see me happy. I’m finally one of those people too.

We may have been forced to share our spaces with our abusers as children, but as adults, we can reclaim our space. We can find our safe haven. We may have to leave a relationship or break free of toxic family members, but we have a choice now as to who we share our space with.

Survivors be encouraged, take back your space, take back your safety, take back your joy, take back your day, take back your life. It may feel like rebirth, like a brand new birth date for your soul.

–Maya, Founder, 1 in 3 Foundation