Ariana and I first met at a women’s conference and from the beginning, I knew that she and I would become friends. We eventually began to meet up to share our stories. As we sat and talked over dinner, Ariana was in tears as I shared my daughter's story with her. She said that I was an amazing and strong mother for standing by my daughter after I found out her father had sexually abused her. The decision to report the abuse was not easy, and I speak more about this in one of my previous blogs.
At first, Ariana was reluctant to share her story with me and she went back and forth on her decision to open up a wound she was still healing from. I respected her decision in whatever story she decided to share and did not push her to make a decision. However, since she agreed to be my February feature for the I Am Bold. I Rise campaign, we were kind of pressed for time and in the end, she decided that her story of being a sexual abuse survivor does not define her and that she would no longer allow her past to limit her. Once that decision was made, she said “It was all about the timing. I dreaded answering theses questions because I wasn’t ready…”
Ariana went on to tell me because she did not have the support from her family, she held on to the pain, and not releasing it caused her body to turn the toxin into an autoimmune disease. She shared that holding her pain in was not helping anyone, especially herself. But she was really encouraged to break her silence when the same man that had sexually abused her, molested her cousin. Ariana now knows that she was not at fault for what happened to her and she forgave herself for the blame and forgave her family for not properly knowing how to handle the situation.
Although sharing our stories did not happen immediately because of distance and our schedules, once we connected it was as if we’d known each other for years. Now, I am honored to share the victorious story of Ariana Sanchez because as women we overcome many struggles that we often don’t give ourselves credit for. You see, when we learn to open ourselves up to others, others will reciprocate. Ariana did not have the support from her family and sadly, this is the case time and time again. If I did not have the resources that the military provided and my faith in God, I do not know how I would have escaped the toxic situation I was in. I know that I stayed in an abusive relationship because I was scared to be on my own with four kids. At that time I did not see life outside of the abusive relationship and I put up with a lot because of that fear. Fear is a lie! Once you believe in yourself, love yourself, and respect yourself you will not tolerate anything less that what you deserve.
Ariana now knows she deserves better and that her sharing her story can help others heal or possibly prevent it from happening. She knows she is strong and can take control of anything she sets her mind to. She knows she is valued in the eyes of God and that she can face the uncomfortable, and be the voice that she didn't have.
Ariana Sanchez is Bold and she has Risen.