“I am a person whose life has been about overcoming trauma in many shapes and forms – from being a child that was abused physically, verbally and sexually – and then growing up and looking to transform all that pain into something that is a healthy and happy life.”Kimberly Coleman
Today we are going back to a story we first published in 2018 about a woman who had just returned to modelling 20 years after walking away from a successful modelling career.
Kimberly Coleman had a rough start to life. By the time she was five she was being physically abused by her parents; by age seven, her father had begun abusing her sexually; and when she was nine, she was sodomized by three older children. The physical and emotional pain of her reality weighed heavily on her and her escape was through music and dance. Her father continued to abuse her until she was 18. Kimberly’s mother was aware of the sexual abuse but didn’t stop it.
The hardest people to forgive
Experiencing abuse from a trusted guardian is unimaginable. We can often direct our anger towards the person who hurt us, but what do we do about the anger we feel towards the people who stood by and enabled that behaviour?When I asked Kimberly about her mother’s role, Kimberly said something that really stuck with me:
“My mother chose not to address it. I think it was just too difficult. For a long time, I didn’t understand why she didn’t address it, but as an adult, as a mother, I do understand that her mind was probably on the verge of splintering and fracturing at the thought that her husband was violating her child in such a horrendous manner. I don’t agree with her decision, but I give her grace and forgive her for that decision.”Kimberly Coleman
One of the many advantages of growing older is that we begin to see some of the realities our parents lived through as they raised us. We realize that they had their own emotional burdens they were caring that impacted how they parented us. This is not an attempt to justify atrocious behavior. My point is that when we can accept the fact that the adults tasked with raise us may have been broken people themselves, we are able to realize that it never had anything to do with us. Their misdeeds are things that they will have to answer for one day, and sometimes healing for us means that we choose to extend grace to them even though they were dead wrong.
It’s also important to remember that you can hold people accountable and still choose to forgive them at the same time. The two can coexist.
Think about the person who hurt you and while the offence can never be justified, you have a decision to make. You didn’t get to choose what life threw at you but you have the opportunity to choose what you do with it.
Do what you need to do to facilitate your healing
Following a near-death experience many years later, Kimberly confronted both her parents about their role in the trauma she endured for so many years under their roof. She needed to speak up for the little girl who was unable to so many years earlier. She needed an apology.
“I WASN’T TALKING TO EITHER OF MY PARENTS AT THAT POINT, BUT I CALLED MY DAD, CONFRONTED HIM ABOUT WHAT HE HAD DONE TO ME, AND DEMANDED AN APOLOGY. HE WAS RESISTANT AT FIRST, BUT I DEMANDED IT, WHICH IS SOMETHING I NEVER WOULD HAVE DONE BEFORE WITH MY PARENTS. I HAD TO SPEAK UP FOR THAT CHILD WHO DIDN’T HAVE A PROTECTOR OR A VOICE AT THAT TIME. HE EVENTUALLY APOLOGIZED, AND THEN I WENT ON AND SPOKE TO MY MOTHER. SHE PASSED AWAY A COUPLE MONTHS LATER.” – Kimberly Coleman
Do what you need to do to facilitate your healing. If that means confronting the person responsible for your pain, then do that. If that means sharing your story for the benefit of someone else, then do that. Healing is personal; it’s not a one-size-fits-all. Confronting her parents and releasing the pain and resentment over the years helped Kimberly work through her healing. And she got to a place where she could say…
“Now I can look back at all the abuse I went through and see that it shaped me to be a person of empathy; it shaped me to be a person of compassion.”Kimberly Coleman
Releasing the pain allowed her to redirect her energy and make room for the blessings God had for her. She went on to receive a Faith Award in 2018, completed a Rugged Maniac 5k and became a bestselling co-author of an anthology book entitled “Women of Faith: Their Untold Stories Revealed.”
Kimberley also returned to modelling on her own terms 20 years after she had sabotaged her own success. It’s never too late to return to your first love.
There is so much more to Kimberly’s story. Find it below:
Vimbai E. is a writer, journalist, ghostwriter and the founder of The Weight She Carries. With hundreds of articles publishing online, in print and for broadcast, her love of language and storytelling shines through every piece of writing that bears her name.