“Sexual abuse places an emotional time-bomb in you. When and where it goes off is usually unpredictable. Time, circumstances and honesty will pull that trigger.” -Unknown
Saturday evening, April 19, 2008. Joe was performing a wedding ceremony for a young couple that we had journeyed with through pre-marriage counseling. Joe had used Genesis 2:24-25 as the foundation for the weeks of counseling. “This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame.” Joe summed up the verses in these 4 statements: Leave-Cleave-Become One-You Are Not Ashamed. The last statement, “You are not ashamed” is that of moving towards transparency in your marriage. The two were naked, transparent, towards one another, and yet they felt no shame in being truly open and honest with each other.
As he shared and encouraged that young couple in the last statement during the ceremony, that is when my “emotional time-bomb” went off. That evening, everything changed in our marriage. For that instant in time, I was a scared little girl, afraid of what may become of my life. Fear or what I did to cause this pain and trouble. Fear that Joe would not understand. Fear to share. Fear.
I will not go into details of my sexual abuse. That is not where I live any longer. I am still on this journey of healing. My scars have all but healed. My memories of those years as a young child are still vivid and clear. However, as I stated last week, I chose not to dwell on the past. I am no longer a victim. I am beyond a survivor. I am a New Creation in Christ. That is where I stand. That is where I live. In Him.
That evening in 2008 I spoke through tears to my husband. I shared with him what had happened in my life as a child. I remember watching his face. The wave of emotions pouring through his eyes as he listened. He will share with you this week what he felt. How he responded. However, I was now more scared than ever because of the rage he displayed towards the one who abused me. Yes, I knew my abuser. Joe even met him once, without knowing my background. You see, almost all sexual abuse victims know their abuser. They are friends, family, neighbors. They are “trusted” and they continually groom their victims into shame and guilt.
As I stated, this began a journey for Joe and me. We both immediately sought counsel. We were very selective in who we shared this information with. The shame and guilt still loomed heavy and large over our lives. The next few years were a cacophony of emotions and communication with each other. Again, remember, this is necessary for healing. We move from Victim, to Survivor, but then to Christ. But that path is still enveloped with pain.
Let me bring some clarity to the years that followed that April evening. I realized that during those years of abuse, God was there. Listen closely before you get all worked up. He was there weeping and hurting alongside of me. He never left me. In fact, I know He gave me “Spiritual Amnesia” so I could move forward in life. He placed Joe in my life. He blessed us with two beautiful daughters. He gave us time to grow as husband and wife. He also knew the time and place that the truth would be revealed. He was there then. He has always been with me. That’s when I realized that He loved me so much that He died on the cross for me.
I am no longer a victim. No I choose not to wallow in the past. I will not allow the abuser to control my life through fear and guilt. I became a survivor. In the initial years after sharing with Joe and a selected few, I chose not to wallow but to move forward. I chose to forgive my abuser. Yes, you heard me correctly. I spent countless hours praying and seeking God’s comfort and peace during this time. I spent hours praying for my husbands heart to be healed as well. During that time with God, He made it clear that His Son died for my abuser as well. That I should allow Christ to take on that burden and I should forgive him for the past. Let me be honest and fair, that was one of the most difficult times in my walk with Christ; however, it was so liberating! This is when I moved from survivor to New Creation. I now knew what that verse meant in 2 Corinthians. I owned it and I began to live it out and still do to this day. “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
This is my prayer for those who still hold onto the title of “Victim.” Sexual abuse is rampant in our society today. It was not and is not your fault! It is also not ok! The latest data shows that 3 of 5 women have been sexually abused by the age of 25. Those are the ones reported. Some reports place that closer to 85%. Seek strong counsel today. You MUST move from victim to survivor. The world teaches us that being a victim is ok. That you are entitled to your darkness. Listen to me please, no you are not. Let go of the past. Disarm your abuser and move forward. Yes, you will have “scars” but they need to be healed. I will go into greater detail next week.
Finally, also know this. I could not have traveled this journey without Jesus Christ. When I surrendered my life to Him, He took on my pain and suffering for me. He held me close and has never let me go. I no longer dwell in the past, even as a survivor. I am a New Creation in Christ. That’s where I stand. You can too. It’s never too late.
“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”” Matthew 11:28-30