In the night she cried out “No. No.” She was pushing something away from her. With her hands, she tried to be freed. I listened and watched her struggle, afraid to wake her for fear of her not coming back to me.
These are just some of the things a person who has been sexually assaulted goes through, whether they are a child or an adult. Nightmares, PTSD, depression, low self-esteem, constantly wondering if you are worthy to be loved, constantly wondering what you did wrong to cause this “thing” to happen to you, knowing deep down inside what has been done to you was a true act of violence and not of your doing, but the question always remains, “Why? What if?”
In my search for significance to be a woman who was loosed from the darkness that surrounded me, I had to allow God to take me on the journey of recovery—a very long, painful and humiliating journey of recovery. I had to allow him to take me back through the memories of every act of molestation and sexual abuse. Very painful. But despite my best efforts, I found it was the only way I was going to be free. So, I allowed him to do it. What I learned was this time, I was able to control the end result.
I was raised in a good home with loving parents who always told me to “Shoot for the stars. You can do anything you set your mind to do.” That is what I was taught from a very young age. That is something that still holds true for me today. Today, I am no longer afraid. But despite my upbringing, it would take years before I really understood why I always felt “different” from other girls my age. I always felt older, set apart, just different and never understood why.
It would take going through recovery from my abusive marriage for me to understand how life travesties can take a toll on a person’s life and set them up for defeat long before they ever arrive at the chance to try. There is a truth about those who are sexually assaulted. The outcome either way is devastating. There are those who become sexually promiscuous—they take the attitude of “What does it matter anymore?” There are those who completely withdrawal. Then, there are those who remain angry and bitter. At each pass, every relationship this person has at some point becomes directly affected because of the insane injustice levied against them. Each outcome holds its own set of mountains and valleys, twists and turns and one never really knows what the outcome will be, but one always hopes for full recovery. Only time and a really great, loving support system can one overcome the devastating effects of being sexually assaulted. You have two choices, either give up or move on.
For me, I never really knew what happened. I was so young, I couldn’t have understood what took place. In my innocence, I managed to “tell.” Without a doubt, my mother understood what took place and she did everything within her power to see to it that never happened again. At any rate, it opened the door to much worse. There would be four attacks against me of this nature before I would be married. Here’s where a history of deception and confusion has come into play. If your husband wants sex and you do not, and he insists on doing it anyway, is it assault? Or, is she just refusing to submit to her wifely duty?? I am here to set the record straight. No means No. Period. Whether you are married or not. Period. You have no idea the power of the destructive nature of taking what has not been offered to you can be and how it can take a toll on a person’s mind, heart and soul. If you put a gun to someone’s head and said, “Give me all your money or I’ll kill you,” don’t you think that would shake you up? The same is true when a woman says No and her request is not respected.
How can a man who says he loves his wife roll her over and take what she does not want to give on that particular occasion? Love does not demand its own way. For the record, that’s not love. So, why does a woman stay? Peculiar question to which there is no firm answer to. She is his wife. To have and to hold, to love, honor and cherish. Maybe he wasn’t really trying to hurt her? Maybe she misinterpreted it? Maybe not. But she’s his wife. She has made a commitment to their marriage. The methodical way of an abuser slowly tears down her defenses of resistance. At the same time, she knows this is not right, but somehow she knows she just can’t leave—that would make things worse. Instead, she builds a wall of defense and protection to what is in her that is still hers—her dignity, her honor, her soul. Leaving is sometimes not an option. I tried to leave when my daughter was eight months old. He took her out of my arms and I was told I could leave, but if I did, I would never see my child again. Whether this would have truly been the outcome or not, I believed him. For many months after that, I had to ask permission to take her to see my mother who lived out of town. Perhaps unbelievable, but it was reality for us.
I was always told, “You’re my wife. You’re supposed to do what I tell you to do.” Well, well, well. Hmph. There is a scripture in Ephesians 5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. That’s a two-way street. It goes for men as well as women. Another in 1 Peter 3:7 In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered. All too often, the woman is expected to submit to her husband. And yes, she should, unto Christ. Unto Salvation. Unto Righteousness. Not unto selfishness that is destructive—especially from your husband. I was raised, God hates divorce. You should simply not divorce—work it out. This is not always possible. This is not always healthy. This is not always safe. Hear my heart—I am not an advocate for divorce. But, I believe God loves us and expects us to do things in order—all of us. When disorder and chaos abound, he does give you forgiveness for leaving. We need to understand God does not expect us to stay and be a whipping post for someone who does not love him or care for us.
What took me years to understand is how I could have married someone like this—especially, having been raised in a well-adjusted home with loving parents and a great extended family. As I continued in recovery, I learned that the stage for this was set long ago. It started in that first act of sexual abuse when I was three years old. It set me up for insecurities that would lie dormant until such a time the enemy would come in like the snake that he is to destroy who I was so I would become crippled in my ability to be who God says I am and to accomplish God’s plan and purpose in my life.
Getting to the root of any issue is absolutely key in getting rid of strongholds, hang-ups, incorrect thinking and behavior patterns. It was devastating to me to learn the “rest of the story” regarding our situation. My act of disobedience of marrying this man who I knew was not equally yoked to me, opened the door for my daughter to suffer at the hands of her father. Was I responsible for her demise? No. He was in fact the sole beneficiary of occupancy of the acts of injustice against her. However, I received a real education about how my lack of being whole before I married allowed open doors for evil to all too readily come against her—and me.
There is a scripture in Exodus 20:5-6 that says, “I am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” What exactly does this mean?
In short, it means whatever the sins of the parents are, whether sins of commission or omission, lay the groundwork for the children to follow in suit. Sources say, if a parent is an alcoholic, the chances of the kids becoming alcoholics are three to four times greater than their peers. The same is true for kids who have had abusive parents. Without proper intervention and healing, they are at a greater risk of becoming abusive themselves or marrying someone who is abusive towards them. They can say they will not let it happen to them, but when they are in the midst of it, they find it is really not that simple. This was indeed the case for my daughter.
Before I divorced, I asked God specifically what was wrong with my family. God is very much interested in every part of your life and most assuredly wants to be an active part of making you whole. So, he told me. He showed me how the line of dysfunction went about four generations deep, as far as I could calculate. I vowed right then and there the generation curse and cycle of abuse would end with my daughter. What I did not understand and was powerless to change for us until much later was understanding just what God means when he says he will “show love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” This is key. Love God with all your heart. Keep his commandments. One of his commandments is love they neighbor as thyself. Be kind. Love one another. Get this—love does not beat you down by someone who says they you love, whether physically, mentally, emotionally or verbally or even financially. That is not love. For those who love God, God will move heaven and earth to show you his love. But, we must be willing to let him love us. He will not force himself on us. He is the perfect gentleman.
The other key factor in recovering into wholeness is understanding how powerful our words are and how God’s spoken word is taken by God’s angels and immediately knocks down the attacks of the enemy who is the constant menace of our minds which is directly related to our behaviors and our emotions. There are so many people who struggle and some outright refuse to believe this, but just as we all have a guardian angel who is assigned to watch over and protect us, there are also demons who are assigned to our destruction. Where they can be stopped is through prayer and words of affirmation—not words of destruction.
When I was divorced, I was so broken I didn’t know who I was anymore. I stood in front of a mirror so my eyes could see my mouth say the words my ears heard so it could get into my heart so I could be made whole. I would say, “You’re not worthless. You’re not a pacifist. You’re not ugly. You’re not a waste of time. You’re not stupid. God loves you. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are the apple of God’s eye. You are the center of God’s heart. You are God’s beloved and his heartbeat.” I did this for months so I could finally hear something good about myself instead of the continuous onslaught of insults that were so often hurled at me. The incredible thing is—it worked. It was after this, I was finally able to trust God just enough to allow him to start loving me. And yes, his love is like a banner that will completely cover you and saturate you into wholeness.
I’ve fought many battles deep into the night—for myself and for others. It has become a part of who I am as an intercessory prayer warrior. Here’s where we must come together and bring awareness to how powerful loving others and building each other up with our words and prayer really is. What so many people do not understand is who we are in Christ. We have been given the authority that Christ had on this earth. We have the authority to call things that are not as though they are. We have the authority with our prayers to pull down the lies told about us and others. It’s amazing to see those devils scatter when God’s word is invoked against them. At the risk of sounding ridiculous, they are indeed real. But God is greater and his power and love is so much stronger.
Is there life after divorce? Absolutely. Through Christ into wholeness. Is there life after abuse? Yes. Absolutely. Through Christ’s love making us whole. So, what about the little girl who never had a chance to be a little girl who was thrust into one destructive relationship into another? How does she become whole again? Only when she allows a loving father, ABBA father, to lavish her with pure love will she once again have her hopes and dreams restored. The truth is, most people are very well aware something is wrong. Most people are simply at a loss as to how to be relieved from it. Some recover swiftly. Others do not. There is no discernable time table. However, there will not be full recovery unless we understand, accept and receive who God says we are and allow him to love us. That’s where it must start. Then, allow God to finish the work he started in us.
About every two minutes an American is sexually assaulted. Every eight minutes, that victim is a child. On average, there are 321,500 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the United States.
If you are someone who has been a victim of sexual abuse, do not allow this to identify who you are. Identitfy yourself with the beautifully adorned princess God says you are. Many years ago, my aunt told me to never leave the house without looking like a million bucks. I understood it. It works. I pass this great advice on to you.
The pain is real. The devastation is real. The devil is a liar. God is greater. This is why I say, never assume you know what someone has gone through, especially if you won’t take the time to talk to them to find out. But even so, we can all be prepared to help in a person’s recovery by being armed and ready to fight—through prayer and speaking positive words of encouragement. Love one another. Be kind. That’s my message. I hope this helps someone along the way know there are those out there who understands how precious you are to God and how sexual abuse is not your fault. And no, God didn’t allow this to happen to punish you for something you did or didn’t do. It is an act of evil. Period.
Live. Love. Laugh. Never give up. God has a plan for you, for good and not harm for a future with a hope. Remember, God uses ordinary people, just like me and you. Love Always.