I used to feel weird when I’d curl up and hide

From the fear of the past, the horror inside.

To find a dark corner where no one could see

Where no one could find me and I could just be.


I never knew when they’d come along.

Would I be eating, talking or listening to a song?

Memories’d flash up in waves, that horrific past

Seconds to hours, I never knew how long they’d last.


It’s been three years since I’ve been swept away

Seeing the rot of humanity, smelling the stench of decay.

The memories are there, I can see them still

But their power has lessened, they only maim, not kill.


But courage and bravery,  and strength are no match

For the doubt, guilt and shame whose weight have attached

To the stigma of abuse and those who survive

Those women and children who make it out alive.


Because years later I still question God’s grace.

Am I good enough or do I have to earn my place?

But slowly I’m learning my worth is inside

Where good and bad have learned to live side by side.











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They told her leaving him would show the world what she was–

a quitter






a woman ruled by cowardice.

What they couldn’t understand was that walking away can be the bravest act of all. 

©Sara Ackerman, 2016


It’s spring break and if you’re from the cold wasteland that comprises the Midwest, there’s not much to do besides watch the snow melt and binge watch shows on Netflix!

This week I binged my way through Unbreakable: Kimmy Schmidt and as an unintended consequence of said binge watching, I now have the Unbreakable: Kimmy Schmidt theme song stuck in my head. (For those of you who have yet to discover this quirky comedy from the writing genius of Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, you’re missing out. It follows the  reintegration of Kimmy Schmidt, a 30 year old woman who was kidnapped at age 15 and taken to live in an underground cult, into a new life in New York City. It sounds serious, but come on! It’s Tina Fey!)

The theme song is pretty catchy and has been running in and out of my head all week. For the most part, I can mute my inner dialogue if need be, but one line refuses to be silenced. “But females are strong as hell. Dammit.” I figured those words remained when the rest had faded to the background because I needed a little boost of confidence. Never above the self-love, I accepted that I was strong as hell and went about my week.

Then today on my home page in Facebook was a call to action for survivors of gender based violence to submit their survivor stories for the #pixelproject, an organization raising global awareness for violence against women (VAW). Normally, I would have passed this post by and continued reading others, but there was that persistent line from Unbreakable that would not leave me alone–Females are strong as hell. Dammit.

And so I submitted my story.

There’s no need to get into the gory details of my past. That part of my life is over, and I am in a good, healthy place. Yet the message from the song lingers. Females are strong as hell. (Yes, gents. Males are strong as hell, too, but since my story has to do with VAW, guys you are just going to have to take a back seat while I talk about some girl empowerment).

In the years following my own trauma, I have had the privilege of meeting and speaking with women who are survivors like me. They are courageous women who have experienced the horrors of life and have come out stronger for it. They are mothers, sisters, aunts, friends, wives, and daughters picking up the pieces of their lives and persevering. Every day they make a choice to get up and face the world in spite of what has happened to them. They go to work and school. They take care of families. They learn to love themselves again and to take charge of their own lives. Their actions and bravery are helping to ensure that the vicious cycle of VAW is one step closer to being eliminated.

Above all, these women have helped me see that we are not victims. We are survivors. And like Kimmy Schmidt, we are Unbreakable, dammit.

Please consider donating to the Pixel Project: http://goo.gl/Bz4Sfp or donating to your own town’s local abuse shelter to help women help themselves.

If you are a survivor of VAW, consider sharing your story with the #pixelproject at http://goo.gl/RAbx2V