I Need Blue

S2 EP 24 Taylor - Intrafamilial Sexual Abuse: A Survivor's Story

November 14, 2022 Jen Lee/ Taylor Season 2 Episode 24
I Need Blue
S2 EP 24 Taylor - Intrafamilial Sexual Abuse: A Survivor's Story
I Need Blue
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Taylor is a wife, mom, and content creator who is also a childhood sexual abuse survivor. She uses her social media platform to share her day-to-day life and to inspire women around the world to overcome, persevere, and live their best lives.
 This is Taylor 's story...
 Taylor was sexually abused by her grandfather from a very young age. She remembers being groomed from around age three, and the abuse continued until she was twelve. When she was around seven or eight, she realized that something wasn't right and tried to push back, but her grandpa didn't stop. The abuse continued until she was twelve and she found out that there were other victims in her family. Once she hit puberty, the abuse stopped, but she suffered from mental health issues, substance abuse, and self-harm. She is now an advocate for other survivors and is working on healing herself.

In this episode, you will learn:
1. The stages of grooming that abusers use to gain a child's trust
2. The long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse
3. The dangers of not teaching children about their bodies and sexuality

To find more information about Taylor:
Tiktok: https://www.tiktok.com/@the_taylorleeann?_t=8VobSiMGRzS&_r=1

Instagram: @The_TaylorLeeann

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/taylor.leeann.507

Survivor merchandise: https://www.bonfire.com/store/taylor-lee-ann/

Purchase  my book: Why I Survived:  How sharing my story helped me heal from dating abuse, armed robbery, abduction, and other forms of trauma by Jennifer Lee

 “In Why I Survived, Jennifer pulls us into her hair-raising traumatic stories and helps us understand the physical, emotional, and mental toll trauma takes on us. Simultaneously, she reminds us we're not alone and encourages us to listen to our intuition, which helps us avoid pain and stay on the right path. On the edge of our seats, we get to see how Jennifer triumphs over her adversities and finds the gift of helping empower others to begin their healing journey by speaking her stories. This book is unputdownable.”
Julie Jacky- Author of On the Other Side - A Spiritual Memoir of healing and forgiveness

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 Please note I Need Blue does contain sensitive topics which could be triggering. Please seek help if needed and remember, you always come first. Today's episode focuses on the shock of interfamilial sexual abuse. Interfamilial sexual abuse means sexual abuse that occurs within the family. In this form of abuse, a family member involves a child in or exposes a child to sexual behaviors or activities.
 My guest today is Taylor. She is a wife, a girl, mom and a content creator. She is also a childhood sexual abuse survivor. She uses her social media platform to share her DayToday life and to inspire women around the world to overcome persevere and live their best lives. Despite the unique challenges that each of us face, she is here today to share her story so that others know they are not alone.
 Taylor, I appreciate you. I am so thankful you are here with us today. I know our audience will learn a lot from your story and walk away feeling strong, inspired and empowered. Welcome to the I Need Blue podcast. Thank you so much for having me.
 Oh, you're so welcome. I'm happy that you are here today sharing your message because the whole interfamiliar sexual abuse goes on way more than we think. And like any type of trauma, it's not easy to talk about. But I think when it involves family members, it's probably even more challenging. Would you agree?
 Absolutely. I think there's extra layers added when it is family because you're dealing with not just the abuse, but now you're looking at incest and all the feelings that come with that as well. Absolutely. Taylor, can you share with us your earliest memory? My earliest memory of being abused is probably three or four years old.
 I know that it had already been going on before then because my earliest memories are like of the grooming stages of abuse happening. My story goes on for quite some time because this didn't end until I was twelve. Can you describe or just define for the audience maybe what grooming means? Absolutely. So the grooming stage is really when the abuser or predator is feeling out the child that they have chosen to abuse.
 Because believe it or not, like there is so many things that they look for. It's not just, oh, this is a cute little kid, I'm going to do this to them. It is very calculated. They look at the familial relationships, they look at the presence of the parents in the child's life. If the child is left alone a lot, if they need care, like a lot, wherever they can step in and basically be the hero of the story is the gaps that they're looking for so that they can gain that trust and all of those things.
 So once that is established that they have a safe territory basically to enter, to start the grooming process, that's going to look like, is the kid aware of their genitalia? Do they know about body autonomy? And if not, those are all green signs for them to move forward with. Now they are going to teach your child or this child what they want them to know. So for me, that process started with I loved getting my back rubbed when I was a child.
 It was my grandfather that abused me and so he would have me like lay down and he'd rub my back and before you know it, he was like rubbing my back and my butt and it would be over my clothes and the next thing you know it was under my clothes. So I took showers with my mom when I was younger. And so when that transitioned into him asking me to take showers, I didn't think anything of it because that conversation of, hey, no, this is only something that you do with money when we're in a rush trying to get somewhere, none of those things had been taught to me. So when it was him saying it was just another family member and this is what we do. So it's really just that stage where they are getting the child comfortable to be touched or talk to a certain way or viewing certain types of material until it can progress further into like actual I mean, it's all abuse, but into the abuse they are seeking to fulfill.
 And your first memory was around age three, you said, right? Yes. And so that was with like, the rubbing backs and that progressed into, like he would casually turn on pornography in his living room when nobody was home and it was just us, and would try to get me to be just really interested in the human body or learning about it, or like, oh, look what they're doing. And it was all very secretive. And I remember the grooming process at first, like, him trying to be excited about it.
 For us, it was this fun thing. But once the abuse started, it very quickly became, if you tell anybody, you'll never see me again. Everyone will hate you, showing me his pistol and his closet. So it very quickly turned from the excitement and enticement to fear. And how old were you when you recognize now, looking back, that the fear that he was now trying to control you?
 I would say probably about seven or eight years old. The abuse was very severe to that point. I have a lot of it blocked out. I'm not 100% sure if he ever raped me, but basically everything up until that could have happened to me was happening. Did he babysit you or how he did babysit me?
 So it was my biological father's, dad. And unfortunately, when my parents were together, they did not have a healthy marriage. They had me, my older sister and my three older brothers, and occasionally my half brother and sister's half brother. All the kids were in sports. My parents did not have a good marriage.
 They were both alcoholics and they divorced when I was six. My dad, he ended up living at my grandpa's house, and he had 50 50 custody of me before my parents divorced. He was the grandparent that was always available. He lived maybe 35, 40 minutes away, but he would drive across town and babysit us. If they had to go out of town, he was available to come stay.
 He always got us the new toys or took us for ice cream. And I mean, literally nobody suspected what was happening at all. When I was healing from my abuse, I had to write a letter to him. And I was just like, you would have been the best grandpa in the world if we could have removed the abuse. I mean, he did everything.
 Then once my parents, once my dad was living with him, and he had 50 50 custody of me, when I went to go over there every other weekend, my dad would normally go out to drink or go stay at his girlfriend's house. And that left me with my grandpa. And that's how it ended up happening. The police estimated 300 times or more from my earliest memory until twelve. Wow.
 How do they determine like, the 300 times? So they went based off my earliest memory and then kind of like the depth of the abuse of what happened spread out over time and kind of calculated it as because I remember something happening almost every time I was there, every other weekend from before I was six until twelve. And so based on just my memories and everything else, they said that it would have at least been 300 times. Were you always the only child there when you were babysat or did you have other children with you? One of my older brothers would go over there with me.
 Sometimes I'd be alone, sometimes he'd like to go out and hang out with his friends or whatever. But my parents divorce was really hard for him, so he kind of like sunk himself into video games and hung out in the office and really just kept to himself. There was also this brother is incredibly intelligent, very intelligent. And so I believe wholeheartedly that my grandpa saw him as a threat. So he put him down.
 He was mean to him. He was not like this loving, caring grandpa that he was to everybody else. That further perpetuated him. Isolating himself when he had to be over at my grandpa's house. Yeah, I think that was another intentional thing that he created to have that time with me and have that space.
 Because a lot of the time I slept in his bedroom with him when I was there, instead of it was either like my dad's room, which he wasn't there, and then my brother wanted space, so he'd sleep in there and then I'd end up sleeping with my grandpa. So it was really looking back, it's almost like astounding like the calculation that goes into doing this to somebody is just there's so many levels to it. Do you know if he hurt any of your other sisters and brothers or any other child for that matter? Yes. So there were actually several, several victims and I was not the first person to come forward in my family.
 I'm going to leave that part of this out of it. But once it came to light, we found out that it actually had a spanning history of like 50 years. It had been going on for a very long time. Wow. And did he ever abuse any child outside of the family tree, if you will?
 He did. He got close to several of mine and my sisters and cousins friends, so anyone that was within the friend group that was like within his vicinity of living. I had a really good friend of mine that came over all of the time. He ended up abusing her. I had no idea.
 I always thought that it was just me. So for me, this was something that I was convinced that if it's just me, I can bear the weight of this. When he dies, I'll tell everybody, like, I'm not going to ruin the family, all of these really heavy things. And when I found out that it had actually been happening to other people is when I decided that I needed to say something. What is your first memory as you got a little bit older, where you realized in the moment, like, maybe this isn't okay.
 Maybe this isn't right. Maybe Grandpa really shouldn't be doing this. So I have one distinct memory. It's a low graphic, but we were in his room. I was maybe seven or eight years old, and I knew that this was just not okay.
 So he was trying to get me to take my clothes off, and I was saying, like, I don't really want to. And this was the first memory that I have of ever pushing back, and it became a bargaining deal with him. So the thing was that he wanted to perform oral sex on me, and I was like, no, this isn't okay. And he's like, just going back and forth, back and forth. And so finally, I'm like, bargaining, okay, you can have two licks.
 I'm seven saying this to him. And of course, once he got me to say that, that was enough for him to start and not stop. And from then on, I knew that it was danger at this point. And so I remember telling my mom, I don't ever want to go back to Grandpa's house again. And she didn't question me.
 It was kind of like, okay, she tells me now as an adult, that when that happened, she went to her counselor and was like, hey, Taylor said this. This doesn't feel right. And her counselor told her, well, don't push it. There's definitely something there, so don't push it, but don't forget it, and do not make her go there. I would still end up seeing him, and things would happen because I was still, like, had to my dad had 50 50 custody of me.
 So without me, like, outright saying something, that was really where the abuse slowed down. But there were still a few times where it happened up until everything came out. I know once you hit that start, especially, like, age ten, and your body starts to change, and then we get a little bit older and you start your period, that is such an awkward, hard time for a little girl. And what was that like for you, having endured the abuse, and then was the abuse still going on as you were going through those changes in your life as well? So it was really interesting for me because being a child, growing up, being sexually abused, I knew everything about sex.
 Like, everything. So I'm sitting in fourth grade in my first little class where they're teaching you about your period and whatever, and I'd already known about all this because my grandpa was telling me how exciting it was going to be, that my body was going to change and this was going to happen. I always tell parents, now, if you're not going to teach them someone else's, and it's not going to be the way you want them to learn it, whether it's the school or their friends or someone abusing them. That's a great point. Yeah.
 So for me it was always weird because I felt like I had to act like I didn't know any of it when I knew all of it. And so when I started my period, I remember my mom coming in to have the sex talk with me and it was not good at all. And again, I had just had to play like I did not know what she was talking about or anything. And the abuse wasn't still happening to the degree that it was when I was younger. But he was still attempting.
 The last attempt from him was the back to back to back hurricanes we had, what was it, 2004? He was at my dad's house by myself with my grandpa and he ran his hand up my leg and I turned to him and I said, I will fucking kill you and do not touch me. And I got up and walked away and I was convinced that if he followed me that my dad was going to come home to his dad being dead in the house. I was very serious. So that was the last time that he ever attempted anything.
 So luckily, going through puberty, he wasn't still actively doing anything, but it caused much harder issues because that's when everything came out, is when I was twelve. And then at 13. Going through the court cases and puberty and I dived headfirst into substance abuse and self harm and suicide attempts and mental health hospital trips and dating and being interested in boys that were 1617 years old when I was twelve or 13. And having sex and just doing everything I could to make it worse when I thought I was just trying to make it numb. But it just added layers upon layers of healing and devastation.
 So I suffered in that way as a teenage girl. And it's so important that you said that because there are a lot of girls that at that age are doing the same things and maybe they understand why they are, maybe they don't understand why they are. But what did you learn looking back now, knowing those behaviors? I mean, we can be hard on ourselves, especially when you're younger and you become sexually active like that right. Like you said, dating older boys.
 How now are you gentle on yourself? To be honest, it's something I still work on to this day. It actually was like an epiphany within the last year that the boys I was having sex with at 13 years old were also predators. That was a hard pill to swallow. And just thinking of like how I would have never thought that back then.
 I mean, I had people tell me that back then and I was just like, what? He loves me, and all of the things and I remember even one of my older brothers who was like, 17 at the time, was like, this is disgusting, Taylor. He's my age. Like, this is gross. And I'm like, I'm just so mature.
 Like all of the things when really I was just the screaming, hurt teenager. But really, to be gentle with myself now I still have to catch myself to be gentle. I have a very harsh inner monologue with myself that I really have learned that I have to slow down and just breathe because I am my own worst enemy. And so there's all these tools that I've built up over the years of meditation and yoga and breathing and listening to a podcast are really like, I have to truly slow down and get a hold of reality sometimes. Like, okay, you are worthy of love.
 You are worthy of self care. Like, let's go take a bath. Let's go read a book. So those are the ways that I have learned. And really, as far as the abuse goes, is just not owning it.
 I think the hardest part for me was feeling the guilt that I didn't say anything sooner, and it ended up happening to other people because I thought I was the only one. And so I carried that guilt for a long time. But really just not owning their actions and understanding that you were the victim throughout all of this and that it was calculated every step of the way against you. Like, if you were playing chess, they knew your moves before you could make them and set you up, you weren't going to win. It was very heavily calculated.
 And so I think even though it's kind of a heavy thought, it kind of brings me peace of like, okay, I was a child, and the cards were stacked against me, and he was the adult, and it was his actions that caused this. I did nothing wrong. Even if others suffered before me or after me or at the same time as me, none of that is a result of my actions. You did nothing wrong. You were simply a child who left her grandpa because he showed you what you thought love was supposed to be.
 Who was the first person you told and what did you say? I was actually in school, and my mom and my biological dad showed up to check me out of school together. They had been divorced, and I knew this was not like they were not healthy. Coparents. Something was wrong.
 So next thing I know, we pull in to the police department, and I'm freaking out. No idea what's going on. Detective comes and gets me and brings me into this room. And it's literally just like you would see on a TV show. The whole thing behind me was this dark, can't see through glass wall that they told me there was a video camera on the other side.
 I'm like, okay. They sit me down in this chair. I remember it was like a cold metal chair. There was this table. It was like one or two lights.
 It was not very bright. The whole thing was eerie. And how old were you? Twelve. So this was right near the end of the year, when I was twelve.
 My birthday is in February. And so they brought me in for the first time to the police department and asked me if I knew why I was there. No, whatever. So then they asked me if my grandpa had been touching me inappropriately. No, absolutely not.
 Where would you get that? Just emphatically deny anything. And so when we left that day, the detectives told my parents, which I found this out when I was an adult. Don't let it go. She's lying.
 But we can't do anything without her confessing, there's nothing that we can do, even though she has all the signs of being full of it. So we left. And I didn't really go around my grandpa much after that. And then one day I was going with my dad to visit some other family. I'll leave them out of the story, but basically my dad told me that the reason this was a few months later, this was close to my birthday, that the reason I had gone to the police department was because another female family member of mine had come forward and said that he had tried to touch her.
 This was a family member that I cared about very deeply. And I became enraged. Like, I just started spilling my guts to my dad. And he was like, don't say another word. We're turning around.
 And he turned the car around and drove me to the police department. I met with the same detective and she took my deposition. And I actually still have it sitting right here next to me. It's like 60 pages long. They gave me a copy to keep that's long.
 Yeah. And it does not have all of the details from there. It was crazy because they had to figure out how to arrest him. My grandpa became like hyper vigilant of kind of what was going on. He definitely knew something wasn't right.
 And at one point when we showed up at my dad's house well, it was my grandpa's house, but we went into my dad's room and there were pillows lined up on the bed, kind of like stacked, and a pair of girls underwear on the floor that were too big to be mine, but just the right size to be my best friend who lived down the street. I lost my mind. And that was the first time I said anything about the abuse in front of another family member to my grandpa and told him that I knew whose underwear those were and that he was abusing her. He yelled, Taylor, you're lying through your fucking teeth. And the next thing I know, my dad was rushing me and my brother to go get in his truck because my grandpa was running for his pistol.
 I mean, he was, like 83 at the time with a titanium hip, so running is relative. But, I mean, he was headed to go get his pistol, and he had shot up his house before I was born. He had done that. So by the time we got in the truck and we were backing out of the driveway, he was at his door with his pistol, and from there, he started sleeping with his pistol under his bed. And my dad coordinated with the cops to actually have him arrested at publix because he knew he was the only one that knew his schedule.
 He grocery shopped on the same day at the same place, and so they actually were able to arrest him. The trial where he got arrested, it wasn't my trial. It was the other family member who brought it forward. It was their trial, but because of my testimony, they were able to prosecute at the degree that they were able to, and he ended up dying in prison, unfortunately, before they got to my trial. So I never had my personal trial, but it was my testimony that they were able to convict him under.
 So that was big for me. That was awesome. That's great. I'm glad you got out safely. Now, looking back, what is it like for your parents?
 Well, I don't have a relationship with my biological dad. I do wish that I could say that what he did was good, but he was not a part of my healing process. He did not attend the court hearings. He actually went and visited my grandpa in prison on three different accounts. So we don't have a relationship.
 For my parents, my mom and my stepdad, who I claim as my dad, they are incredible. I can, with all honesty, say they saved my life. They went through counseling with me. They went through a family program as family of a survivor to learn all of the skills that they needed to learn when they realized how bad I had gotten. Because I was basically living this double life from 13 to 15 years old.
 My mom thought that I would be at my friend's house. But I'd really be out with this guy that was like four years older than me. Riding on motorcycles and doing drugs and having sex and all the things. And once they uncovered my other reality, they quite literally saved my life. They put me on lockdown, just complete lockdown for like, three or four months while I turned 16.
 And that actually propelled me into graduating high school a year early and took 14 classes in one semester. I graduated high school a year early. And really, for us, I think it's just I know that my mom has been such an advocate for so many people. There's been other women that reached out and was like, how did you get through this as a mother? And she's been able to speak into that and speak on where she went wrong and what she did right and all of the reflecting.
 And it's really, I think, as a family, or at least between me and my parents, like, we have very healthy boundaries with each other. I'm a mom to four daughters. Three of them are biologically mine, just being understanding of certain triggers. Like my dad, my stepdad, he has never changed one of my girl's diapers. Not because I ever think he would do something like that.
 He's literally just the epitome of goodness. I love him so much, but that's a boundary for me. My mom and me and their female teachers and their dads have changed their diapers. That's it. I have some very set boundaries, and they have been very respectful of that.
 And boundaries are good. Sometimes setting boundaries is really hard for people to do, and you never have to apologize for the boundaries you set, absolutely. Especially when it comes to your kids. And it doesn't matter if it's with your family or their teachers or whatever it is. I mean, there's some boundaries that makes people uncomfortable.
 Like, all of my kids know the proper medical terminology for their anatomy and boys anatomy, and some people don't like that. I don't care. It's an important thing. I will say it's interesting that we've also struggled, though, as a family, me and my parents, because you're much more hypersensitive to things. Like, one of my daughters had I don't know if it was I think it was a UTI or something, which she had been on antibiotics.
 It's normal, it happens. But she was around, and she had said she had some irritation down there. And I was like, oh, my gosh, like, instant, your head just races. And so I think me and my parents have both dealt with emotions like that of this hyper vigilance of is this normal? Is this okay?
 Is she okay? Type of feelings, because we just don't want it to happen again. And so that can be rough, but we've navigated it very well, and it's really cool that we can all lean on each other. It's really helped me, honestly, as an adult, because abuse, just because you heal from it once doesn't mean you're not going to have to heal from it again. And I think that's something I learned really early on in our family program that we went through.
 They were like, you're going to feel really good by the end of this, but this is going to follow you. One of my first counselors, he sat me down and he was like, this is going to be a part of your life the rest of your life. That doesn't mean that you're going to want to kill yourself the rest of your life. That doesn't mean you're going to be a drug addict. The.
 Rest of your life. But what it means is that you need to learn these tools and keep them with you because there's things that are going to happen that are going to trigger this down the road. And so I've gone years without having any issues. And then when I was 19 and I found out I was pregnant with a little girl, I wanted a little boy because I was terrified of having a girl. And when I found out I was pregnant with the girl, I had to go to counseling.
 I was terrified. I wanted to learn everything I could about having a daughter and how to keep her safe and how to talk to her and all of the things. And so there's several moments in my life where my mom has had to sit me down and she's like, okay, honey, remember Dr. Robinson told you this was going to happen. What tools do we have?
 And so having people like that in your corner is so important. Can you share a tool or what you find is like the one go to tool that you go to. What I've been dealing with lately is actually like repressed memories. So, like I said, a lot of my abuse has been blocked out and it is now resurfacing. I've been doing a lot of inner child work and healing work, and with that comes a lot of dark work.
 So I have a lot of intrusive thoughts and dark memories and something that my husband really helped keep at the front of my mind as far as tools go, is when an intrusive thought or memory comes into your mind, it's very easy to allow it to consume you. I have found myself in fetal position on the floor shaking hysterical from some of these things. And I've learned now that as soon as I have the thought, I remove myself from it, not in an unhealthy disassociating way, but I try to observe it as a third party, like, oh, that was an interesting thought. How does that affect me right now? How did that make me feel?
 I tried to analyze it, just slow it down and digest it slowly instead of allowing it to take me over. And that has been huge for me lately just because of the rate at which I'm remembering things. And it's just as easy for all of your bad habits and bad things to come back and take over as it is for you to slow down and grab your tools if you can just it's like a split second decision. And so training your brain to be able to do that and make that right choice to observe instead of become. Yes, I did hypnotherapy.
 And it sounds kind of similar where you don't go back into the memory, but you observe it as an adult and you look in it from adult eyes, and then the focus is, let's talk about what positive came of that experience. And I know there were times where I just laughed at her. I was like, oh, nothing positive came of this. And she would break it down. And then I was like, wow.
 So actually I did like some really beautiful things came out of that really nasty experience. Absolutely. And even that's something else that I love to think about is even if the memory itself in the incident I'm remembering, there was nothing good in that moment of it happening. I still try to do the same things of like, okay, well, I wouldn't be able to speak into sexual abuse and into childhood trauma and help women and do the things that I do at the level and capacity that I do them had this not happened. And so even though it was a very bumpy road that almost cost me my life several times, I'm forever grateful because I truly feel that going through all of this and healing the way that I had to has led me to be destined for something really great down the road and very impactful.
 It's good. Absolutely. Sometimes with triggers we never know because it just happens, right. And then we uncover triggers we didn't even know we're there. And that's why, like you said, having that toolbox is so important.
 Absolutely. I think that's something that people don't understand about triggers either. It can happen anywhere. So having those tools is so important. I remember I was dating someone a few years back before I met my husband.
 And I was at his apartment and we were getting ready to go out for an evening and he had just gotten out of the shower and I was going to go in the bathroom and freshen up. And I opened the bathroom door and he used the same shampoo that my grandpa had used. And the whole bathroom was filled with this smoke hot smell of my grandpa. And I just like, dropped. I was not ready.
 And I was like, I got to get out of here. This is not okay. It was terrifying because I hadn't smelled that smell since I was a child in the shower with him. Like, I had actively avoided that part of no one in my family bought that. I just was not prepared.
 Same thing I was in 8th grade and I walked into math class and there was a substitute teacher there. And when I looked up from my book, he looked just like my grandpa. And I just lost it. There's so many things even more recently. But again, healing isn't linear.
 It's all over the place. And you never know when it's going to strike. Like two or three weeks ago, my husband was playing with our three year old and tickling her. And then she was like and laid down across his lap for him to start rubbing her back. And I just went there in my mind and I was like, okay.
 He's like, what's wrong? And I was like, I don't want to tell you what the trigger was because I don't want you to feel weird or bad about it. I need to take some breaths. And then he helped me through the tools, like, okay, well, let's observe. Relax.
 So your husband is in your toolbox too? Yes, absolutely. He's a big part of that. That's great. We talked and you mentioned how support is so important for any trauma survivor, and with this type of situation, and like we said in the beginning, we're dealing with family.
 How have you dealt with family members that did not believe you, have not supported you? Like your biological father who was not there for you for court? How have you coped with that? Well, it's interesting. Me and my biological father do not have a relationship.
 I tried for several years to make that work, and it's actually more of a new decision. It's been about a year now, but I've just kind of learned that you can't allow those people to be a part of your journey, and that's kind of a double edged sword. I want to say that that's a happy thing, and eventually it will be, but sometimes it's really hard. Luckily, I was not faced with anybody who outright looked at me and was like, you're a liar, other than my grandpa. Because obviously but it did cause a huge rift in my family.
 There's a good bit of my family that I haven't seen since it happened. They have all chose to basically say, that wasn't my dad. That wasn't my grandpa, that was Bob. We don't talk about it, it's in the past, let it die in the past type of attitude, which is, fine, everyone is entitled to heal or not heal however they choose. That is completely up to the person.
 But for me, I can't do that. I have to talk about it. And that was something that was so crazy when it happened. I couldn't shut up about my story. I started telling everybody, like, everyone at my school, my teachers, my guidance counselor, my counselors, anyone that would listen.
 And I think it's because I was silenced for so long. It actually got to the point that my dean called home and was like, taylor will not stop telling people about this. It's getting a little crazy. And I told my mom, oh, well, because I'm going to keep talking about it, and I'm still talking about it. At almost 30 years old, why is.
 It important that that story not die? Why should your story not die? Because there's still millions of children being sexually abused every day, every single day. I mean, the amount of children that were abused just during this recording is insane. To know the statistics and to know the numbers and to know that there are so many people out there that still need help, and there's so many people out there that never found their voice.
 There's so many survivors that still don't have their voice. I can't even tell you the number of women that have come up to me and they're like or inbox me on social media to tell me their story and I'm the first person they've ever told and it happened when they were a kid or it was currently happening or different things. So just to know that my story isn't just my story, it's a representation of millions of women and men's stories around the globe, I think that's why I'm so passionate about talking about it. Absolutely. So for somebody listening that has not been able to find all of the courage that you had that it truly takes to come forward, what are some words of encouragement that you would share with them?
 I think for me is one you don't owe anybody your story. And I think that so many people, even though I am courageous by telling my story or I have this platform where I inspire all of these women that's not every survivor's journey and just being a survivor within itself is something that you should be so unbelievably proud of. You don't owe the world your story. You don't owe, like if your abuser never went to jail because you weren't able to tell your story or you weren't able to come forward, I want you to also know that that's okay because it's really hard and it's really scary. And I know that as an advocate for sexual abuse victims, it's something that we are trained.
 It's a terrible, terrible thing to be a victim of abuse and be told, well, if you don't say something is going to happen to someone else, it's like the same thing as victim blaming. So if you're feeling those feelings, please don't feel those feelings. You owe nobody your story. The only thing that I do encourage you to do is that you owe yourself healing from your story, whatever that looks like. So whether it's journaling or counseling or meditation or if you need to scream at the top of your lungs or write out your entire story and then burn it or write a letter to your abuser, you deserve healing and you deserve your story to be your story, not a story that they put on you.
 So you are in control from here on out of how that story affects you and what control you have over it. They are not in control of that. You are. That is an amazing message and you are using your platform to also share that message, amongst other things. So can we talk about that?
 Your platform? Yes, absolutely. My platform is for women. I do love the men out there for those listening, but my platform is for women. And really I just share my day to day life of being a mom, being a wife, being an abuse survivor.
 You'll catch me doing silly dance trends or other things, but a lot of it is about mental health and overcoming and just inspiring women to be their best selves, really. Like women is something I'm so passionate about. Which is why it's been really difficult for me to niche down my social media channels because there are some women. We do so many things. We do so many things.
 We wear so many different hats and it's so easy for us to get caught up and the expectations of what we should be doing and what this person thinks we should be doing and what our role is supposed to be. And I love to just help women tear those layers back of what society is placed on them or their husband or their spouse or kids or whatever, and who they are in the essence of their life and their journey and what they want this one precious life to be for them. So, yeah, I'm really excited about that. I have a mental health project I'm working on that I'm hoping to release around my 30th birthday in February. It's good.
 I've been building this channel for like three years now and it's been a lot of fun. And I'll put your social media information in the show notes. What does living your best life look like for Taylor?
 I am not the nine to five grind girl. My entire family is entrepreneurs, basically throughout the board. So for me, I just want to love on my babies and love on my husband and inspire women and travel the world. I mean, really, that's it. I'm a lifelong learner, so anything that I can get my hands on that I can learn about mental health or abuse or parenting, helping other people, that's my journey.
 I want to see beautiful places and meet beautiful people and inspire beautiful thoughts. What is your favorite place you've been to thus far and what is on your bucket list? That's hard. So I love Colorado. My best friend of 18 years lives out there, so that is one reason.
 But Colorado really if I just want like a home away from home feeling, but with the mountains instead of the beach, that is my go to place. But probably the most beautiful place I've been is I went on a cruise when I was 13 and I went to the Grand Cayman Islands and it was so beautiful and I got this from mistake raised, that was kind of crazy. But as far as the bucket list, me and husband got our passports this year. So I really want to go to Norway, Iceland, Ireland, just all over there, all of the places. So you like the cold?
 I actually hate the cold, but I love the mountains. I hate the cold. As long as it's only for a vacation. I could do the snow for like a week, maybe two tops, because I love it, it's so pretty, but just not for extended periods of time. That's me, too.
 I was born and raised in Michigan, so I had plenty of snow to last a lifetime. And my husband and I were watching this show last night and there was snow outside in the background and I was like, oh, that's kind of pretty. He was like, yeah, if you don't have to go out in it. And I was like, yes, you are so right. I can look at that for like a week and then I'm ready to go home.
 So I completely understand you.
 Thank you so much for being here with me today. I want to give you a chance to leave one last message because, again, this podcast was giving you an opportunity to share your story so others know they're not alone. But also, you really are focused on inspiring and showing women how to live their best lives. So I want to end this podcast with you giving one final message to the women out there. But I also want to make mention that boys are also victims of sexual abuse, too.
 So we don't want to leave that fact out as well, but take it. Away just to kind of add on that. Man, I love you. I am so proud of all of you and we need you. I don't want to ever feel like I'm leaving you guys out, but I am specialized in women.
 I love our women. And for my ladies out there that are listening, whether you are a survivor or not, I am so proud of you. Just keep rocking it in your life. If you are struggling, please get whatever help it is that you need. Whether it's listening to podcasts, it's journaling, it's going to counseling, take a hot girl walk, turn on some good music.
 It's all going to be okay and you're in control and life is going to be what you make it. I know that sounds so cliche, but someone that struggled with anxiety and depression my whole life, life is going to be what you make it. You got to wake up and make the decision every day to make it your best day and do something that makes you smile or somebody else smile. That's a great way to make your life better. But, yeah.
 I'm honored to be here today and to share my story and I hope that somebody out there got something from it. Thank you so much. You are so welcome. And it's important to remember it's going to be okay, just like Taylor said. Thank you, Taylor, for being my guest on the I Need Blue podcast.
 This is Jen Lee with the I Need Blue podcast. To listen to additional stories, visit www. Iadblue. Net. And remember, you are stronger than you think.

Memories of child abuse
Did he abuse other children?
Your first memories of abuse
Going through puberty and abuse
Tools for dealing with traumatic memories
Support for trauma survivors
Words of encouragement for survivors
Taylor's platform
What does living your best life look like
One last message