Language eliminates stigma

The language we use in our vocabulary for characterization or judgment of humans with mental illness, addicts, or sexual victimization survivors, has become a foreign concept to society. The beliefs and willingness for change has started, although the action is lagging behind. Those that have been to one of my speaking engagements know, I always say, "We blame society, but we are society". Language is and will always be a leader in the elimination of this stigma we still have in our society.

In my experiences, living with mental illness and in active addiction, I've found words much more powerful when you’re at rock bottom. Wanting to cling on to the hope of someone's words. When society calls us junkies or a waste of time, (yes that has happened), we believe that there is no hope for us. We believe that using the terminology “junkie” is discrediting. The fact is, we are living with an illness. That illness affects our brain, we believe that it must be true, and this is all we deserve, since this is what we continue to hear. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I didn't wake up one day and say "today's the day I put a needle in my arm." I woke up and said "I need to eliminate this pain I'm living with." With little to no resources and no education on how to obtain the resources or support, I chose that needle. We are not junkies we are human beings with an illness.

In the world we live in, the amount of humans directly affected by sexual victimization is astounding. From educating myself and researching for a few years now, I've discovered a flaw within our community; a divide so to speak. Rape, sexual abuse, sexual assault, sexual harassment, can happen to any gender, at any age. I'm not discrediting anyone but seriously, this is 2016. Males get raped by females, females get raped by females, males get raped by males and females get raped by males as well. This disgusting act happens at any age. When we hear people advocating for, say "Child sexual abuse", it would discredit the 40 year old women who was raped in the park last night, or the elderly man who was molested by his nurse at his nursing home yesterday. Sexual Victimization is sexual victimization is sexual victimization, at any age. I would challenge all of us to change our language around sexual victimization. I'm an advocate for change! An advocate for sexual victimization survivors young old and in between.

Our past stays with us forever. We have been through everything good and bad that brought us here to today. Some days aren't as great as others. When the sun shines, it's beautiful, and when it rains it pours. Not every day will be sunny and great. Just like the earth, we have to take time to harvest ourselves. Another challenge would be try to go through an hour without judging anything, or any person. The day is what you make it, regardless of our past. The things I've experienced come with me like my address. Choosing to build or destroy with my own attitude for change.

We blame society, but we are society! Time to wake up and go to work, with-out fear of judgement to ourselves or others! Be authentic in your own skin, and speak to yourself with love and compassion, love self-love! Language matters!