“Don’t sit and wait for change, stand up and be that change,” said author Shelly Ann.
I Never Lied, is a novel telling her own life story of going through abuse, self-abuse, and finally finding positivity in her own life.
Shelly Ann is currently in the middle of an awareness movement, called Speaking Out Towards Change, touring the country and speaking about her experiences and her book, which earned her the 2014 Esquao Award for arts and literature.
She said she always wanted to write, but she was afraid of being judged. The book was eventually prompted by a letter from her son who encouraged her to tell her story to help others.
“The response has been absolutely incredible. I wrote the book thinking if I could help one more person in the world see themselves through different light, lose all the negativity, and start to see some positive, that the book would be worthwhile,” she said.
The writing process took about eight months, she said. “I became a better person just from writing it.”
According to Shelly Ann, at restaurants she often garners a lot of attention because of her car, which is covered in decals for her movement, and people often end up wanting to buy her book.
She gave a copy of her book to a waitress as a tip once, and she ended up getting a response from a friend of the waitress’. He wrote to her saying the book saved the waitress’ life. After reading it she stopped cutting and stopped threatening suicide. He said her life changed drastically in about two weeks.
“She said because she was able to see her life through my words, and she no longer felt alone.”
Shelly Ann said men often relate to the book as well. She didn’t put any graphic sexual assault details in it, so they can relate to her on a spiritual, mental and emotional level.
“They send me emails constantly, giving me feedback, telling me their stories because it’s a safe place to go to release it,” she explained.
She said the book exposes all of her mistakes including addictions, self-harm, and negative personal relationships. According to her, she wanted to share these things so people know it’s possible to get out of the cycle, and change.
“By sharing the outcome and giving the tools that I used in my life to make differences, hopefully they’ll use those tools too.”
Everyone she speaks to can learn something from her, she said, but she learns from everyone too. “I will grow as a survivor for the rest of my life, and hopefully I share that with other people and get them to do the same.”
Shelly Ann said she spent her entire life being told she was worthless and everyone else was more important than her. She said she felt like she didn’t have a right to hurt or have pain, or a right to speak up for herself.
“Now, I believe that I am the most important, because if I don’t look after myself, I can’t help or look after anybody else.”
She said there’s a four-point process to healing. The first step for victims, said Shelly Ann, is truly seeing what was done to you and who did it, instead of blocking it out to survive.
Her second step is feeling all the emotions you never allowed yourself to feel. The third step is, according to Shelly Ann, about owning it, owning your life and your experiences.
“I had to learn that I couldn’t control anybody, the only control I had was how I let people affect me. So people who affected me negatively, I got rid of them, I just shut them out. And that’s hard to do when you’ve never put yourself first,” she said
She said a main part of this is learning to make your own decisions, without worrying what other people think.
The last stage she calls live on, which she describes as allowing yourself to live freely, and without guilt or shame.
She now considers herself a steward of abused children, as well as an advocate for abuse victims.
Shelly Ann said she wants all victims to know that no matter what people say, it’s not their fault their being abused. She urges people to speak up until someone listens and they get help.
“No matter what you do, you have to fight for yourself. If you’re in that abusive situation, love yourself.” She said, “Scream to the world. Tell everyone that you have to.”
She said they donate books to libraries, they don’t charge for speaking engagements, and they donate books to prisons, as many inmates have been through similar experiences as her.
“This is my life for the rest of my life. As long as I’ve got a breath, I know that I can empower people to change their negative thoughts in positive dreams.”
For more information about the book visit her website.
“My book, my story, my life, says that something really good can come out of something really bad.”
On Twitter: @alex_soloducha
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