“I went from being kind of in an autopilot state of mind through life, to being a part of life.”
Sexually abused by an uncle for many years, Desmond later saw his uncle jailed for sexually abusing another child. But Desmond’s trauma remained a private burden, a secret he kept to himself, buried in a mental safe. A secret that walled himself from others, protected from a world in which someone you trust, someone you need, someone who cares for you could be the someone who betrays you.
He was a sophomore at the University of Saskatchewan when he began to dig up the safe with the secret. His first disclosure was to his sister.
After that disclosure, Desmond launched himself on the long and difficult journey toward healing. The first counselor he braved was a disaster. Nine months later, he let himself try again. And so he persevered, gradually unlocking the safe and bringing light into the dark places.
He had to methodically teach himself to recognize and tolerate his emotions. Emotions had been uncharted territory, a part of experience he was forced to sacrifice in the service of survival. He has found great help in yoga and meditation. Meditation helps him to focus his attention where he needs it, helps him to remain grounded, and to notice when his mind is veering away from the present.
Today, Desmond is married and able to share himself emotionally. That long-buried safe is now an artifact. And he is finding ways to help other survivors, working with his local sexual assault coalition to help others who may be ready to embark on their own path toward healing.