Sexual abuse seminar set for Saturday
Tracy Keagle suffered sexual abuse from the ages of 4 to 13. She thought — she hoped — no one else in the world could ever experience something so horrible. She felt ashamed and alone.
She knows differently now, of course. Her recovery took years of effort and therapy. She’s far from alone, and she’s far from ashamed.
Keagle now knows talking about her experience can help other survivors. She’ll do just that at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Flewharty-Powell Annex of the Iola Public Library, 211 East St. Her discussion is part of a monthly seminar series, “A Message of Hope,” to discuss various issues surrounding sexual assault. There is no charge to attend.
“The more conversations you have with people, the more you don’t feel like you’re alone, which is really important,” she said.
Conversations about sexual abuse, especially among survivors, helps reduce the stigma and lessens the negative emotions that follow the abuse, Keagle said. She told her parents when she was 21, and often talks about her experience with those close to her. She wants them to understand the context of some of her life choices. Even now, at the age of 60, she can be triggered by small incidents.
“I thought when the abuse was over, it was over. I thought everything would be fine, but it wasn’t and it didn’t get better for a long time,” Keagle said. “You don’t realize all the bad decisions you make because of this one thing.”
The most important thing that you can do to help someone survive and move on is to listen, believe and support them, Keagle said.
Saturday’s event also includes information and resources to help survivors, with representatives from local organizations that work with victims of sexual assault and abuse. Those who attend are invited to share their stories, if desired. Childcare typically is provided for the monthly seminars but will not be available for this particular event.
Keagle said she hopes those who attend will gain valuable insight, learn about available resources and find hope.
“You can have a pretty happy life. Even if something horrible happens to you, it doesn’t have to define you or keep you from achieving your dreams.”