Sasha’s SHINE Story: The view from the mountaintop

I believe that a person doesn’t have to know how they are going to climb their “mountain,” they just need to know that they are committed to climbing it. With one foot in front of the other, and with each step taken, more of the path is revealed. Each step is something to build on. There is nothing easy about facing severe trauma, but the reclamation of one’s life in the face of adversity makes reaching the summit of that personal mountain that much more meaningful and empowering.

The view of the world from within the thick timber is very different than the view from the top of that mountain. Through the steps we take, we earn that shift in perspective: to see the scale of our lives independent of the trauma we experienced. I can recognize and accept that the mountain I climbed, while massive on its own, is just one piece of an expansive world. I can recognize that the trauma I experienced is just one piece of an expansive, multifaceted life.

I did not choose my trauma, nor have I chosen to be defined by it.

I did not choose my trauma, nor have I chosen to be defined by it. But I did choose how I responded to it: how it would contribute to the shaping of who I am today. Through embracing my fear and confronting what scared me the most, I rediscovered my beauty and learned to harness my power. I built a loving and respectful relationship with myself and reclaimed ownership of my life… and it feels absolutely amazing!

Sasha Joseph Neulinger is a public speaker, filmmaker, and founder of Voice For The Kids. Sasha’s experience of multi-generational child sexual abuse is the subject of the autobiographical documentary, REWIND, which was nominated for the 2020 Best First Documentary Feature by the Critics’ Choice Awards. His experience of abuse helped inspire the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) model of response in Pennsylvania, where Sasha grew up.


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