I first noticed SNAP when a came across a pamphlet in 1995. I thought, similar abuse happened to me. I began to remember being molested by a priest when I was thirteen. This prompted my participation in SNAP support groups twice a month for almost three years. After a while I became more focused on my family and dropped away from SNAP. Within a couple of years I became the father of twin girls who are now thirteen.
About two years ago new, horrific, memories came to me. Fifty years after my abuse I remembered being raped by a priest. These disturbing memories threw me for a loop. My emotional center was gone. Depression, fear, anxiety, sadness, anger, nightmares were overwhelming.
I lived in a world without fully understanding where or what I was. I sought out SNAP and once again participated in working with the network of SNAP members. SNAP was a safe harbor that provided comfort and support as I embarked on a path of healing. SNAP provides an opportunity for me to meet other survivors and develop friendships. I no longer feel alone. I know that it is not my fault and that I should not be ashamed. The members of the SNAP support group understand my injury, sympathize with my struggles and support my journey to a healthier life. These are important elements of building confidence to live life without being burdened by the abuse of the past.
As I became aware of the abuse and the lifelong injury I suffered as a child the more I understood how it had crippled me. With the support of SNAP members and the support from family and friends I developed a solid foundation for healing. Professional counseling also helped address the symptoms of PTSD.
As I developed into my own person I began to be more involved in the work of SNAP outside the support group. The injuries I suffered because of my abuse are not erased, nonetheless I live a fuller, healthier life. This lead to activism as I believed that no child should suffer the abuse I did.
I have gained the ability to move forward with my life. The network of SNAP members supported my steps to a healthier life and are my companions in that journey today. SNAP heals.
www.whitedovesnest.com – a site for sexual abuse survivors and their supporters.
Annette Nestler-SNAP Southern New Jersey