Our messages to survivors

Message 2

Being a survivor of CSAM is like living in two realities at once. The part of you dealing with the images feels so many feelings and uses so much energy, while the other part of you needs to function in the present world. It can feel so heavy and hopeless at times. Please know that you are not alone and there is a community of survivors and helping professionals that are fighting back. We are not helpless and we are not giving up. What happened and is happening is so unfair and so devastating, and this grief and anger motivates us to find solutions.

Healing from the past is possible and so is learning to cope with the pain of the present. You will need both in your healing journey. Give yourself permission to rest and recover. Find something joyful that you can lose yourself into from time to time, to have a break from the grief. Be kind to your body and speak to it lovingly. It has been through too much already. It’s okay to have your breakdowns when you need to. We all do, and then we get back up. Surround yourself with some things that bring you comfort and joy, even if they are silly. The best revenge against those who exploit us is to live the best life we can. We all have “triggers” that can come out of nowhere, but I love the idea of “glimmers”; noticing things that are beautiful or joyful and soaking that feeling up. We may have to work harder to be okay and structure our life differently. That is okay because our circumstances are extreme. It can be so much harder to live life differently or find resources because it is hard and even risky to talk about our experiences. For all of these reasons, you deserve all the grace and compassion.

You have survived unthinkable situations, and even when you feel weak, you are stronger than most. We love the Phoenix symbol because we break down and rise back up over and over again. We grieve and scream and feel too weak to get off the ground, we rest and we are renewed, we get back up and find our strength, and we keep fighting for ourselves and every other child who has faced this.

— Phoenix 11 Member