On being brave and sharing your story

I still remember being eleven years old, hiding in a ball on the bathroom floor after I was sexually abused by one of my older relatives. I didn’t have the vocabulary for it at the time, but I felt exposed and ashamed and unprotected. I felt used and angry and chaotic. For almost a decade, I felt immense distrust towards the Church, my family, and God because of what happened. Even when I fell in love with Jesus, I continued to wrestle with the idea that God could’ve stopped it and He didn’t. I tried to wrap my brain around the theology of it all—why did God let His daughter’s innocence get stripped away, over and over again? Why didn’t He stop it?

Rape and sexual abuse and molestation are horrific crimes. Even after years of therapy and healing I feel the echoes of that person’s actions in my life. I sometimes have flashbacks when my husband and I are cuddling on the couch. There are moments I feel twinges of shame when Todd compliments the way I look, because the eleven-year old in me associates my physical body with abuse. At one point when we were dating, I thought Todd’s desire to have sex with me was the same desire my abuser had for me. The enemy continues to attempt to use my past to drive the way I see my husband and sex and relationships. There is no way to undo that kind of experience, just like there’s no way to undo any traumatizing experience you’ve had, whether it’s abuse or divorce or violence.

But, because of Jesus, sexual abuse does not drive my story any more. My therapist explains it like this: abuse (or any traumatic experience) will always be a passenger in your car. It will always be a part of your story. You can’t ignore it or erase it from the script. But it does not have to be the driver. It does not have to dictate where you will go or what you will do or how your future will pan out, because the healing Jesus offers can spread further and deeper than the wounds of abuse.

Maybe even more radically baffling, Jesus extends His healing to every person involved in those situations, from the victim, to the abuser, to people who make light of a victim’s story, to those who curse the abuser, to those who protect the abuser, to the media that uses a story of rape for their own monetary gain.

If you have been abused, now is a perfect time take a step forward and tell someone. What happened to you is wrong and it matters. God doesn’t brush off abuse or make light of violence against His sons and daughters. He wants to wash over your life with healing, resurrecting beauty from the ruins. His love is strong. I have experienced it first-hand. Please share your story with someone and watch as Jesus uses it for the good of your life and the glory of His name.

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