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NEW YORK (PIX11) — Born and raised in Peru, Silvia Vasquez-Lavado is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse that haunted her for much of her adult life. She came to the United States on a student visa to outrun her painful past. But that was she started down a path of self-destruction.

“Drinking was a way to numb my past, a way of numbing the emotions,” she said. “Unfortunately, we cannot get rid of shame. It’s more about how we face it, live with it, and overcome it. But I wasn’t equipped at the time.”

When Vasquez-Lavado’s youngest brother found her passed out in the lobby of her apartment building, she realized that she needed help. She went back to Peru and attended a meditation retreat. She thought she would confront the external forces that were ruining her life. Instead, she reconnected with the younger version of herself.

“I saw my little girl taking me to a mountain, taking me walking around mountains.”

This inspired Vasquez-Lavado to journey through the Himalayas and reach the base of Mount Everest. She then became the first Peruvian woman to scale Everest, as well as the first openly gay woman to ascend the Seven Summits, the highest mountains on each continent. But she wasn’t just making history. She was taking back her own life, one step at a time.

“If I need to bring this humungous pain with me, let me bring it to the tallest mountains in the world.”

Vasquez-Lavado’s memoir, “In The Shadow Of The Mountain”, is on sale now. It’s also being adapted into a biopic starring Selena Gomez. She is also the founder of a non-profit group called “Courageous Girls”, and its mission is to heal, honor, and empower survivors of sexual abuse.

Vasquez-Lavado hopes that sharing her story, helps others realize that they have the power to heal too.

“I know readers are going to feel inspired and hopeful to tackle their own emotional mountains, whatever they are. Because what they will be able to see in the book, is that we heal the most when we heal together.”