So here’s the truth, healing is both sweet and sour, not necessarily at the same time, but it does have its good moments and its bad moments.
When God started me on this healing journey, He worked me through some of my pain so that I could forgive those who hurt me and so that I could learn more about Christ. There were some tears along the way, but they were mostly tears of joy and gladness. I have literally experienced more peace since sharing my testimony than I have ever experienced in my entire life.
So why then did I go to sleep last night with tears of pain in my eyes?
As I share boldly and often, I am a rape survivor. From ages 6-8, my brother raped me and subjected me to the worst level of pain and betrayal that I have ever experienced in my entire life. As a result of the rape, I still suffer from PTSD, causing me to have (among other things) a mental block of the first eight years of my life. I remember very little from those years. In fact, all that I remember is the rape.
I do not remember how it all started, but I remember many of the different occasions that he violated my mind, body, and spirit. I remember when I finally found the courage to seek help and tell my mother. I remember when we were in court and he received the short sentence of three years in juvenile detention. Those things I remember, but the good moments of my youth, I do not remember.
Another result of the rape exhibited itself in my teen years when it came to dating. I have always been a plus-sized beauty but when I was younger, my size made me look much older than my mind could process. For some reason, I gravitated towards those boys and men who were older than me. While I was attracted to the boys who were my age, they were often not interested in me because of my weight. I used to think the boys my age were just immature and could not appreciate my beauty because older men loved my shape… turns out the older men were just taking advantage of my ignorance and youth.
There I was, a broken 15 and 16 yr old girl, accepting the advances of men who were well in their 20s. I thought I was cool. I thought I was desired. And it was last night that I realized that was actually another form of assault and abuse.
Did you know that your frontal lobe (in your brain) is not fully developed until you are 26 years old? That means that we are not fully mentally developed until we are almost three decades old- wow!
In my youth, I legitimately thought that it was OK for me to date and engage with men who were twice my age. (I have a sister who is 16 years older than me so I would say that her age was my dating limit.) Furthermore, I thought that it was OK for men of that age to physically engage with me. Some of these men had children who were almost my age… in hindsight, that was NOT OK. In hindsight, that was a form of pedophilia.
And then last night as I was in the mirror, just joking and laughing with God, He told me that my healing was not finished yet. He told me that my healing was like peeling an onion, removing each layer, one at a time. He told me that what was yet to come would be the hardest part of my journey. He told me that He allowed the healing to proceed in this order because I would need to rely on the things that He taught me in the past in order to heal this time. Come on, God, there’s more?
Then it happened; during the course of last week I realized that I was still suffering from my rape.
- This may seem small but it’s significant: I do not make eye contact with older, black men. The person who raped me was an older, black man and when I see men who fit that vague description, a part of me feels that they could hurt me. DISCLAIMER: only one person raped me, but unfortunately, all men pay the consequence for that rape. I realized that even with my dad, pastors, and other harmless men in my life, I cannot look at them in the eyes. Eye contact is powerful and respectful, yet when I see older black men, I cannot look them in the eyes, fearing that they might exert their “power” over me and violate me the way my brother did. Intellectually, I know these men would never and will never hurt me, but on a much deeper level than I can access, I still feel like that vulnerable six year old girl. I subconsciously hold all older black men accountable for the actions of one…. that’s a consequence of rape.
- Last night as I was talking to Christ, I joking said that I need a husband who can accept my total naturalness. In that jest, I instantly realized why I am afraid of marriage (also, I realized that I was afraid of marriage)… I’m afraid of performing the physical/bedroom aspects of marriage. What happened to me as a child has caused me to despise all forms of sex. How can I possibly engage in acts with my husband that were stolen from me by my own brother? I knew he had stolen so much from me but it was not until that moment that I realized that he had also stolen my future joy and happiness with my husband. I dream of marriage and a family…. but my dreams are tainted by the pain that one man (who was actually a boy) caused me…. and that’s a consequence of rape.
I honestly do not know how to feel at this point. I know God is able to heal me from this because He has healed me before. However, I will be even more honest, THIS IS HARD! Even as I wrote the beginning of this post in service this morning (Pastors Henry and Harris- please forgive me… but I have to write when God sends it!), I felt God changing me.
After the sermon today, we were given some sad news and Pastor Henry told us to grab the hand of someone we did not know and walk with them to the altar for prayer. I began walking and one of the deacons at the church grabbed my hand… and of course, he is an older, black man. He didn’t know that I am intimidated by black men. He did not know that a small part of me fears that an older, black man will violate my trust the way my brother did. He didn’t know that I was secretly battling being able to be around black men. He didn’t know and I didn’t know either, but God was already working. I stood at the altar crying- both over the sad news that was shared and because I knew God was healing me.
Pulling from the bible study on Tuesday (watch it here), I did not ask to be broken or damaged, but Christ is taking that pain, healing me, and using me for a greater purpose. Healing ain’t easy…
Normally I end my blogs with something deep or reflective… something for readers to meditate on… but not today. Today, I need your help. I am earnestly and desperately asking for your prayers. Healing requires Christ and lots of prayer. While I may need your prayers, I am not the only person who needs prayer- other rape survivors need your prayers, as well.
On average, 321,500 people (ages 12-34) are sexually assaulted each year (read more statistics here). That’s a lot of people… but that’s just the number for people in that age range! There are victims who are older and than 34… and sadly, victims who are younger than 12. THEY NEED OUR PRAYERS. They need our prayers, our support, and our protection.
The purpose of this ministry has always been to help others heal and that will never change. However, the other purpose is to prevent another person from experiencing not even one day of the pain that I have lived with for 23 years.
So on the surface, I ask that you would pray for me. Please pray that I may be able to heal from the pain, visions, and thoughts of my past that consume me. However, on a much deeper level, I ask that you would please pray for those who have suffered like me.
I thank you in advance.