Rachel Thompson author, activist, sex abuse chat

Social media maven Rachel Thompson is well known in the Twitterverse and beyond, as a tireless blogger (she created the hashtag #MondayBlogs, a weekly phenomenon on social media) and activist. With more than 100,000 followers on social media, Thompson leads classes and offers support to authors and other creatives through her Bad Redhead Media company. And she has made no secret that she was sexually abused as a child. 

As a preteen, Thompson was abused by her next-door neighbor and, bravely, spoke up about it; the case went to trial twice and she had to testify both times. The experience both broke her and made her stronger, a thing that you know is possible if you spend any time chatting with her. Her energy seems endless; besides running a small empire of book marketing and publishing, she is also a single mother with two kids and two cats. But it took some time to speak openly as an adult about her early trauma.

Thompson, who worked as a pharmaceutical sales rep for many years, is the author of several books; she started by writing snarky humor. “That was my first foray into writing books. I wasn’t ready to share my big secret with the world yet…As I started more therapy, [dealing with] PTSD, this whole world opened up.” 

Thompson turned to her poetic self to reveal her secret life as a victim of childhood sexual abuse. She published two award-winning poetry collections about her experiences, Broken Pieces and Broken Places, with Broken People slated for publication soon. “I felt like I needed to explore the side of myself that is being a survivor,” she says. If you follow Thompson on social media, you’ll see she’s also very funny. “I still have that snarkiness,” she admits.

Thompson has, over the years, thought of herself as a survivor more than a victim. “I think I’ve always had that within me [being a survivor]. I literally had to find a way to cope constantly, because I had to.” Every day, every time she went out the door, she had to navigate her neighborhood with the predator in it. He remained her next-door neighbor for years.

Follow #sexabusechat on TWITTER every Tuesday, 6 p.m. Pacific time. Follow the hashtag and chime in (use the hashtag in your tweets). Follow Rachel Thompson on Twitter as @RachelintheOC or @speakourstories with Shruti Kapoor.

Life was harder because Thompson did not know about PTSD as a teen. “People didn’t go to therapy,” she remembers. In the 1980s, PTSD was something that “only soldiers get,” she remembers. Ignorance compounded her situation. Instead, Thompson got migraines, panic attacks, and other physical symptoms. “But my folks didn’t understand,” Thompson recalls. 

As a teen, Thompson, like many survivors, was a perfectionist—an A student and an elite gymnast, pushing herself hard while also battling the undiagnosed PTSD. In her off-hours, she kept busy reading and writing.

However, “as an adult there was a moment when I had my daughter at age 35 and I freaked out about how I was going to keep her safe, protect her.” Thompson battled post-partum depression with a prescription for Prozac. But that moment of realization “was a turning point, recognizing that I hadn’t really dealt with it at all” and had been living in “a state of hypervigilance.”

About six years ago Thompson started a weekly Twitter chat called #sexabusechat. Every Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. Pacific time, she and her sister hosts welcome anyone and everyone who has experienced sexual abuse, no matter their gender, age, or how long ago it took place, to speak up and share their questions and stories. Each week has a theme and Thompson leads with cohosts and occasional guest hosts. “We have nothing to be ashamed about,” Thompson says, and reaffirms this with Twitter folks often. 

She doesn’t hesitate to say, “I’m not a shrink. I can only share my experience.” But her warmth and compassion come through her tweets. Thompson often posts advice like, “Research is our friend,” encouraging followers to read mental health books or follow advocates on social media. 

Recent tweets and discussion topics have included the link between abuse and chronic pain; finding a place to process your trauma; discussing the abuse stories of popular culture/music or sports stars; finding the best mental health apps and podcasts; self-care; the crisis of abuse in colleges, the arts, and in sports, and many more topics.

Sexual abuse in other cultures besides America is just as horrific. Thompson partnered with advocate Shruti Kapoor to talk about sex abuse in India and in Indian communities around the world. Together, they tweet as @speakourstories to highlight this cultural aspect of sex abuse. Both of Thompson’s accounts support and echo each other in their boundless support for those who have been abused.

Find Rachel Thompson on Twitter, Facebook, and her own website at www.rachelintheOC.com. You can buy her poetry books through her website or Amazon.



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Julia Park Tracey (she/her) is a writer and survivor working in the low Sierras, California. Her poetry has appeared most recently in Soul-Lit, Not Very Quiet, Autumn House Review, Coffee People, and Daphne. Honors include Poet Laureate of Alameda, Calif., California, Frederick C. Fallon Award for poetry, and a San Francisco Foundation Award grant. Her essays have appeared in Huffington Post, Salon, Narratively, Redbook, Paste and more. She is the author of six books.


  1. What a lovely piece, Julia. So humbled to be featured here! Thank you, Survivor Lit for spending time with me and sharing my story with the world. ❤️

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