When I started my blog it was initially as an assignment for school - A year and a half later I'm not only running my own blog but able to share my content on a larger platform here at mytrendingstories.com. 

However when I began I could have written about sports, music or fashion... but my teacher said, “Write about something you feel passionate about. Something that comes from the heart.”

There was only one thing that came to mind - I wanted to write about being a survivor.

But I’m a journalism student so we are required to use our real names.

And that scared me. 

I had told people I’d been abused and raped, but I certainly hadn’t made it public information. As the years have gone by I had said it to more people, and each time I was getting more comfortable. I was getting more comfortable because each time I felt less and less shame.

It took me a long time to understand why until one of my past professors spelt it out for me. She said, “Rape and assault are the shame of the perpetrator. Not the shame of the victim. The victim shouldn’t feel any shame.”

At the time they were just words, but her words have changed my way of thinking.

It wasn’t my fault.

For all my fellow survivors reading this – it isn’t your fault.

Hearing that is one thing. Believing it changes everything.

When I started writing this blog with my name I wasn’t sure how people would react. I was nervous. Hitting the “Publish” button on my screen had me feeling more anxious than I have in years. But I did, and it was the greatest thing I’ve ever done.

I think it made my family a little anxious too, because they want to protect me. Yet each time I post a new blog, or have a conversation with them about it, I know that they’re becoming more and more understanding.

I can’t change things without using my name. I can’t tell you not to hide if I’m hiding. I can’t tell you not to speak if you don’t even know who I am. I can’t expect you to feel shameless if I can’t tell you who I am with pride.

I am Natalia Camarena.

I am a survivor. But I am so much more than that.

I’m a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, a girlfriend, a niece, a student, an athlete, a friend, a woman, a Canadian, a biracial adult, a writer, an artist, and I am a human.

My pain is very much a part of me but it doesn’t define me. I won’t let it control me and I for damn sure won’t let it limit me.

If you’re a survivor as well, you don’t have to use your name. This isn’t a call to action. This is just what I’m doing. This is how I want to change things. This is my big step, it doesn’t have to be yours and that doesn’t make you any weaker.

I’m doing things the only way I know how. Holding my head high, sharing my love with all those I can and opening my arms to all those who wish to join me on my journey to change.

This is why I don’t use a pseudonym.

Together, we’ll change the world.

Published by Natalia Camarena