In Dr. Barone’s office that morning, I described the shadow as a “He.” At that moment, I realized the shadow was a person, not imagined. A force of fear immobilized me, my thoughts, my emotions, and my ability to respond.

I wanted to flee—to out-run the memory making its way to the surface. But there was no place to escape.

Then it felt like I could see inside myself. I started to fall. I visualized myself tipped on my side. My arms flailed. I reached out to slow my descent but had no control. So I prayed, "God, help me." I slowed to a stop. A presence of peace surrounded me and I felt safe.

I shifted my gaze from the bookshelf in Dr. Barone's office to Dr. Barone sitting in the chair across from where I sat.  I trusted him with what I was about to say.

“I know where I’m at, when I see the shadow.”

“Where?”

“I’m in the front bedroom at my childhood home. My bed is under the window. It’s dark. The shadow is over by the door next to the closet. He’s walking toward me. He looks down and hurts me. I can’t stop him.”

“Do you know how old you are?”

“Four.”

 
 

I discovered fear from past trauma, followed me into the future. I wanted to be freed from it’s power in order to move forward. I used all my might to overcome it, but I needed more. I prayed God would help me be brave so I could remember who the shadow was and what he did to make me so afraid. That meant I would need the strength to suffer again as I re-visited the past.

 
 

You and your family are not alone. If a victim or those trying to help victims are afraid, call your local police and ask for a crimes against children detective or call an advocacy help line 1-800-239-9950.

Be safe. Be brave. Be accurate.

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