I came across a doozy of a story this evening while I was surfing the web. I hadn't heard about it before; it's pretty new.
Ever hear of Ashley Billasano? She was a high school student in Texas. Very, very pretty girl in the few pictures associated with the story. Looking at her smiling face you would hardly believe that anything is wrong whatsoever.
Well, we will never see that smile in person again.
I never knew her. Never knew about the situation. Texas is quite far away from my own meager state. But what blows me away about the situation is that she sent 144 twitter messages to her 500+ followers in the six hours before her death. They all described her life; her abuse, her suffering, and her journey to those who abused her put away. Apparently nobody really thought anything serious of it, because she killed herself. Even after saying that her first attempt failed.
I can say I have been in her shoes. I have had similar abuse and a similar journey. I too have that 'pretty smile' and most people would never guess the type of past I've had to struggle with. Most people would classify me as happy-go-lucky, bubbly, and friendly. Only a handful of people know the real truth. I was broken, too; suicidal at one point. I know God was always close in those moments of deep despair, as for some reason I could never actually go forward with the end. Something inside kept me moving forward, allowing me to recognize the finality of death and the good things I would ultimately miss. The people I would hurt... even when it felt like everybody stood miles away.
Sexual abuse is a big deal. It takes a great deal of courage to get help; to call the police and get them involved. To track down the abuser and see if they can develop a case against them. I've been told not once, not twice, but three times in my life... from the age of 5 through 21... that they could not gather enough evidence to present a case against a jury. It was amazing how little they offered for me; resources to find counseling, support groups, absolutely nothing. I felt fortunate that something led me to go to therapy. I've had other rough difficulties in my life and I didn't want to hurt. I didn't want to die. Through God, hard work, and a wonderful therapist I can fully say that part is behind me. I know things won't be perfect, but ultimately I will be ok.
It hurts to know Ashley didn't have that. That she hurt. That she cried out... and apparently nobody came to give her solace; a way to help her grieve properly and overcome her trials.
This is what I want to advocate against. I know sexual abuse runs rampant throughout the world. Many cases never even reach a judge and many abusers are allowed freedom to continue to hurt others. The sex offenders that continue to offend in our own communities are offered third, fourth, fifth chances... something I find absolutely disgusting and horrid. I'm all for allowing second chances and having the benefit of the doubt, but when I see news articles describing 'high-risk' offenders being placed back miles from my own residence... that scares me. Not just for me, but for people who may be hurt because of it. I know many people are too afraid to even discuss their abuse as they are afraid they will be punished or ignored...
I can't stand for that! I have to find a way to help people like Ashley. If justice cannot be given, then we need to find ways to reach out and help heal. Nobody deserves to feeling like nothing; like nobody cares. Nobody deserves death when they are hurt. Please... if you see somebody hurting... do something. Don't allow them to create their end.
1-800-273-8255 is a United States suicide hotline. If you know of anybody wanting to end their life because of abuse, this hotline can provide you significant information to help.