Tag Archives: sexual

Victim and Survivor Shaming Must Stop

Victim and survivor shaming must stop. It’s imperative to the health and welfare of all victims past and current of any type of abuse, domestic, emotional, spiritual and sexual, for the shaming to stop immediately. We must be allowed to tell our stories. We must be allowed to tell them accurately and as honestly as possible. We must be allowed to tell them as often as we feel called to. We must be allowed to tell them in public, online, in books, in stories, in private and to friends and family. We must be allowed to be heard, whether our abuser is a celebrity, family member, friend or stranger. We must not be continually questioned as to the validity of our statements. Even when something is remembered only partway, there is a valid reason for that – the event was traumatic and as a result, the formations in our brains were changed dramatically. Our brains may not want to retain the information, so it attempts to lock it away in a deep dark corner, like stuffing something revolting into the bottom of the trash in order to dispose of it entirely. There is no way to completely dispose of trauma, except to heal from it and move forward. Otherwise, we are stuck in a never-ending cycle of running from it only to find we’re actually running in circles, gaining no actual ground. There is no road behind us except that which is well worn by our own souls – the same sights, smells, tastes, memories on repeat.

When we’re allowed to tell our stories, we take the power away from the event little by little. We effectively state that we are no longer stuck in the past but are actively moving towards a brighter future. We build in our community, hope. For each survivor that speaks out, another victim is listening, gaining strength to someday break free from their own hell and begin to tell their own story. The path to healing is paved by the bravery of the freed survivors – those who were not silenced by hatred and shaming but spoke up anyway. I will be one of those that help pave the road for the next generation. I will be one of the brave and you who hate what I have to say will not stop me. My God gives me strength and in Christ, all things are possible. I will speak up for those who are too weak to speak for themselves. I will inspire the next generation to stand up and tell their story. I will no longer sit in shame, but will look you in the eyes and tell you my story. I am no longer a victim, but a survivor. You cannot take that from me.

Over the years, I have been told that I should not give pearls to swine and that by telling my story openly, I am giving pearls to swine. I respectfully disagree. By keeping my story secret and protecting the identity of my abuser, I am giving pearls to swine. I choose to take my pearls back. My abuser was not only my step-father, but several of his friends as well. Most of the abuse occurred while my mother was out of the home, tending to work or to my severely handicapped sister, Melissa. My step-father was very manipulative and found many avenues for gaining control over me. It seems that one of his favorites was to nurture me. Often times he’d turn children’s shows on the television – shows like Disney on Ice that were meant to fascinate me and hold my attention. He’d then call me onto his lap and proceed to molest me, his hands between my legs and my hands often between his, at his insistence. If I rejected him, I’d often be punished severely. I remember being cornered in a narrow hallway on a few occasions, his leather belt in hand. I’d refused him. He didn’t care for that too much. I learned my lesson. The next time I focused on the television show and did not resist him. I pretended I was somewhere else and that it was not me who has touching him, but someone else. This is how I coped. This is also how the abuse was allowed to go on for so long. My memories were deeply repressed and this abusive behavior became a way of life for me, like waking up and eating breakfast before going off to school. It was habit and I was overpowered, my choices removed from me before I even realized I had a choice to make. I’d also refer to this as brain washing.

It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. Luke 17:2 (NIV)

I fully believe my step-father will answer to God for all of his sins against me. The Bible makes it clear that my step-father not only sinned against me, but against God Himself as well. That is a strong statement with lasting repercussions, and it’s one I believe whole-heartedly. If he doesn’t repent fully, I believe my step-father will burn in hell. I see him suffering now in his personal life with work, health, his continued marriage to my Mother, and his fractured relationships with family (his only son, my younger brother) and with friendships. There is a large part of me that finds satisfaction in his suffering, though I am aware that Christ is not pleased with my satisfaction. I pray daily for His Light to overcome the darkness in my heart. If Christ can forgive those who crucified Him, I too can forgive my abuser. I’m finding it’s a daily, if not hourly process. Each time I think I’ve fully forgiven him, my heart finds more bitterness and I lash out. It’s my intent to forgive but never forget.

Out of the pain of the past, it’s become difficult to trust others. In my own personal life, there are precious few who are allowed intimate glances into my daily life, and fewer still who are allowed to remain in my life for long periods of time. The time of abuse from my step-father and his friends has taught me to trust no one, and to keep no one around for long periods of time. Habits form when people are allowed to be near you. It gives people time to manipulate and brain wash you, therefore, relationships must be considered disposable in order to remain safe. This has been the most difficult thought process to overcome. I understand intellectually that it’s flawed and needs to be revised in order to live a full life, but it is one of the hardest for me to address on a consistent, daily basis. It is simply too painful. I will continue praying for Christ’s Light to overcome this darkness in my heart. Could you, reader, pray for me as well? This is a hard battle, and I’m not the only survivor walking it. This battle has threatened my marriage multiple times. I will not allow it to overtake me or my marriage, but I can’t do it alone. Neither can you. I continue seeking help.

Seeking help is another area I want to address in regards to victim and survivor shaming. Over the years, I’ve sought help from many different avenues. Some of them have been entirely appropriate – talk therapy, behavior modification counseling, psychiatry, Christian Bible-based counseling, support groups and prayer. Other avenues haven’t been nearly as successful, especially within friend groups, but they did often lead to other, more helpful solutions. I also gained a better understanding of who my true friends are, and who I am in Christ. The most painful avenues I took were speaking to close and personal friends, entrusting them with information, and then being told that I was too broken to formulate a lasting relationship with. I understand their point of view to an extent; however, the delivery was painful. We are all a broken people in one way or another. This is why we must live in community. We complete the beautiful picture that Christ has painted.

I’ve written many times on the struggles that I’ve overcome – homosexual tendencies, adultery, depression, suicide, addiction…these are nothing new within the sexual abuse survivor community. These are prevalent themes. They’re sins and they need to be addressed as such, but they’re also causes for deep concern. Why are these things happening to our youth? Why are so many survivors turning to harmful avenues as a way of healing from the pain of the past? I have a theory, but you probably won’t like it.
We’re being silenced, shamed, told to keep it quiet and move on, but we can’t. Our stories are banging on the walls, begging to be let out. We can’t move on until we can heal. We can’t do that until we can talk about it, explore the depths of what happened to us and be allowed to move on in our own time. I’ve been told by several professionals that for every year of trauma a survivor has endured, it takes an equal amount of years to heal from that. We can’t even begin to heal until we’ve been effectively heard.

In the news, we’re reading about celebrities abusing youth and we turn our heads and scoff at the victims and the abusers. We make jokes about it and quote famous lines from movies, TV and commercials. It becomes funny to us, but it’s deeply harmful to the victims. I’ve been on both sides of this, and it’s disgusting no matter where you stand.

Satan has twisted scripture for so long and has whispered lies into so many ears. He’s using sexual sins, among others, to rampantly overtake the world. He’s started with the innocent children, molding them into confused, scared little people who grow up to pray on the children they’re entrusted to protect. It’s a rabid hamster running around in the same wheel, in the same putrid cage, breeding and killing it’s own off-spring. We have to treat that rabid hamster, no matter how disgusting he really is on the inside. We have to do it without killing the off-spring and without silencing their cries for help. Each person needs their own space to heal, their own space to tell their stories and their own space to carve out a life for themselves. We cannot continue to group survivors in with the abusers, nor can we continue to ignore either’s cry for help. I know, this is a controversial statement, but it’s one that needs to be made. Perhaps if my step-father had received the help he desperately needed, he would not have abused me, my handicapped sister and my younger brother. Perhaps if we have been removed from the home, we could’ve healed sooner and more effectively. Perhaps if more victims and survivors’ voices were heard, there would be less abuse and more action towards ending it.

I do not propose that simply hearing our stories will end all abuses, but I do propose that it will end for us, the cycle of abuse and begin the path to effective healing. We need more success stories and more survivors to find their voices and call out for action. We need more bravery and less cowardice. Join me now in sharing your stories. Stop protecting your abuser. Speak out and speak up!

My simple prayer for you: May God bless you in your endeavors to tell your story and heal from the horrors of your past. In Christ’s Name. Amen.

Sexual Assault Awareness

Be Bold {Unashamed}

Several years ago, I decided that I would not be someone who added to the stigma that survivors of sexual abuse and childhood rape should feel ashamed for what happened to them. I chose to begin speaking boldly about my experiences and to openly share some of them with anyone who asked. When we place what is dark and evil into the Light, suddenly we see two things – one, we are not alone and two, the darkness loses its’ power to consume us.

As a teenager, I was very fearful about what others would think about me and I often hid in my own little shell. Around that time, blogs and journals on the internet began popping up, as it was the mid-90’s and the internet was just getting into full swing. Some of those blogs and online journals I read empowered me to open up about what was going on in my life. Suddenly, it dawned on me that I wasn’t alone and that healing was possible. A life beyond being a victim is something I could achieve.

 

People sitting out their lives in the dark
    saw a huge light;
Sitting in that dark, dark country of death,
    they watched the sun come up.

Matthew 4:16 (the Message)

 

The more I speak out, the more people tell me that they too have been abused. Some have reported, some are unable to, as the statute of limitations is now past . I’ve even had a couple of people tell me about a child they know who is exhibiting some strange behaviors and ask if I thought the child might be caught in the claws of abuse*. Sadly, I’ve been right every time when I’ve said that “yes, it’s very likely.” Those children are now in safe homes, away from their abusers. Sexual abuse is so common. It breaks my heart! In the United States, one out of every four women and one out of every 6 men has been sexually abused in some way. In poorer countries, like India, the percentage is even higher, at 47-51% of the population being sexually abused. 60% of sexual assaults in the USA are never reported and 97% of rapists never see a day in jail. Satan is sure running rampant in the world, isn’t he?

We have to be bold and stand strong together. Each of us can find our voice and be bold, speaking unashamed about what happened to us because it is not our fault. We are not to blame. 

It is not the survivors who should be ashamed, but the abusers. 

You, reading this who is holding something deep inside yourself – you are beautiful. It’s not your fault and you’re going to be okay. Get up and tell someone about that “thing” that is hurting you right now. Report the abuse. You’re not doing the pervert any good keeping it to yourself.

You, reading this, who thinks you’re alone in your shame from what happened to you – you are beautiful, too! I’ve been there. I spent a lot of years feeling ashamed, eating my weight in chocolate and french fries and whatever else came my way. I decided to get fat so no one would touch me again. Then it hit me one day that I don’t have to do that. I can choose healing. You can, too. It’s not your fault. Nothing about the abuse or what happened to anyone around you is your fault. Walk away from anyone who tells you otherwise, even “family”.

You reading this, thinking I’m completely nuts for speaking out – I forgive you for all the mean things you’ve ever said to me or people like me. I know you’re hurting inside and you need help, too. You’re beautiful and I wish you could embrace that.

To those that assist sexual abuse victims in their recovery and provide a safe haven for children, thank you! What you do is hard work and you’re under-appreciated by a majority of the population. Please don’t stop what you’re doing. The kids need you. I still need you. People like me who speak out about their abuse still need you. We need to know that people still care and are willing to fix what the idiots have broken. You are doing God’s work and that is always a tough task when you’re fighting evil.

Share this post, please. Share your experiences. Share your feelings, get them out. If you’re being abused or know someone who is, please, please, please tell someone! You can report suspected child abuse as well and ask for welfare checks on your neighbors if you have reason to suspect someone is in danger. It’s not just kids that are being abused. It’s teens, adults, elderly and yes, even animals. Report, report, report. Be bold! Be unashamed!

Be safe, Sisters and Brothers. If one person doesn’t listen to you or believe you, keep talking to people until you find someone who does! 

The following is a list of people you can talk to and  places you can call or visit online for help.

If you need help knowing what or how to report, check this link out: Victims of Crime.org – Reporting on Child Sexual Abuse

or this one: Crisis Connection Inc.

  • Start with your local police station or county Sheriff’s station. Call 9-1-1 or walk in and make a report. If you do not do this, there is “no crime” in the eyes of the law. You have to report abuse to the authorities for it to be prosecuted. 
  • A counselor or therapist, if you’re already involved in therapy and repressed memories begin to come out
  • School guidance counselor, teacher, coach or any adult who works in the school that you trust
  • Your boss. If you’re being sexually abused at work, tell them.
  • Your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles – any adult in your family, or a close family friend
  • Clergy at your house of prayer or worship
  • Your friends’ parents
  • Your doctor (chances are, they’re going to discover it anyway)
  • Your chain of command – the military is changing rapidly so that sexual abuse victims are getting the help and the justice they need!
  • A neighbor

*I am NOT a professional, merely someone who has “been there” so please do not replace my advice and blog for real, professional help. I’m willing to help YOU build a bridge, but I’m not able to BE the bridge to healing.