I’ve struggled to write this for quite a while. Not because it’s too personal, I’ve often written personal things for the whole world to read without a second thought. Normally my rationale is that if it helps someone who may have experienced something similar to find peace, understanding, perspective, or to grow closer to Jesus in some way, then it’s totally worth any discomfort I may have in sharing the details. Normally I’m an open book to say the least.
The reason I’ve struggled so much to write this post is because I still can’t quite believe what I am writing. It happened to me, it’s a part of me forever, it changed me for sure, but it’s still so cutting and painful and ripe that at times I can’t believe it’s real. My heart starts racing and I want to cry even thinking about it. But here goes:
I was 11 years old when I was sexually abused on the school bus by an older boy.
Wow. I said it. Okay…deep breath.
I was abused repeatedly by this boy. He touched me over and over in places no 11 year old girl should be touched. And he got away with it. I never told anyone. Why? Why didn’t I tell anyone? Why didn’t I scream? Why didn’t I move my seat?
To be honest, I don’t know the answer to most of those questions. I was 11, my mother had just died, my father was often not around, the bus driver seemed uninterested in what was happening, my big sister was in high school riding the high school bus with her older friends, and I didn’t think anyone would believe me. So I never said anything.
Fast forward 12 years. I was sitting on the couch with my husband watching a DVD we had borrowed from the church about porn addiction. Yes, I know what you’re thinking, and no neither of us are addicted to porn. Anymore.
You see, I used to read books with steamy romance scenes in them. Explicit, off the wall, inappropriate, steamy sex scenes. Like Fifty Shades of Grey. Yup, I read that too. It was terrible. I was ashamed. Mortified by myself. Afraid to tell anyone. Unable to understand why I was so drawn to this crap. Excuse my language. Until we watched these DVDs and I began to pray fervent prayers for understanding. You see I hadn’t read anything like the above mentioned material in 2 years, but every single day I was tempted. I was exasperated with myself. I didn’t understand. Why did this have to be my shortcoming? WHy did I have to struggle with this?
Enter in the DVD, the prayers and a conversation with my husband- who btw deserves a plaque of some sort for being the most understanding, forgiving, and gracious husband in the world- and finally I had an answer. This memory of being touched and fondled every day for 3 months came flooding back from wherever it had been hiding in my memory for 12 years. My heart broke all over again. For my 11 year old self too scared and young to defend herself, for my teenage self relentlessly seeking attention from boys and misunderstanding that being taken advantage of wasn’t the same as affection, and then for my adult married self who had struggled under the weight of shame and temptation for years and never knew why.
I cried for days, literally. I yelled. A lot. I was so angry. Sometimes I still am.
Angry at all the adults for not knowing and not caring enough to do anything. Angry at the boy for ruining me. Angry at my father for not being around to see what was going on and protecting me. Angry at myself for letting it happen and then letting it affect me for years afterward. Angry at God most of all. For not stopping it. For not protecting me. For not sparing me from the pain and shame I would carry around much of my adolescent life. I was so angry at God.
And then? God began speaking to me. He began whispering in my ear and my heart deep words of love, grace, healing, and forgiveness. The pain began to reside a little at a time, day by day. The more I prayed and cried out to him, the tighter he would wrap his arms around me and squeeze all the pain and anger out of my soul. I kept telling him I didn’t understand and he kept whispering to me that it was okay. He just shouldered the weight for me. He carried it all.
Until there was no room left in my heart for anger. The pain was still there. Tiny pieces of it lingering in corners of my mind. But the white hot anger at him, and myself, and my earthly father was all gone.
You see God didn’t stop what happened to me. And he didn’t stop me from making terrible choices because of it in my teenage and early adult years. But he did stop it from controlling me. From ruining me and my marriage. From dictating my life.
I’ve truly begun to grasp the meaning of that word. It’s not easy. Not one little bit. And it doesn’t come over night. There are times when the anger bubbles back to the surface and threatens to fill my heart, but Jesus’ forgiveness of my sins has enabled me to forgive myself and others. It’s a work in progress. Believe me. But so am I. And God has shown me that that’s okay. That this experience doesn’t have to define me or control me. That my failings, and the failings of the people in my life, are not reflections of who were are destined to be. They are merely reflections of how much we need Jesus. Which is okay. In fact, it’s more than okay, it’s beautiful.
Thank you for sharing this with me. For being another step towards healing for me. I hope that if there’s someone out there who has ever experienced something like this and been subjected to the immense pain and shame that comes with such an experience, that they will read this and know what I know now. It’s not your fault. It’s not something to be ashamed of. It doesn’t define you. And you don’t have to carry the burden alone. God is more than willing to shoulder the weight if you let him. And if you let him, he will begin an unbelievable process of healing in your heart and life.
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